I gently placed the cage on top of the box. The bird flitted off its perch, only to reappeared a moment later. There were two perches, shaped from blackened apricot wood and aligned in parallel at just the proper distance. I looked at the bird's feet, resting lightly on the perch, and was struck by their exquisite form. Pearl-like claws, at the end of slender, light-crimson limbs, nimbly found their nearest grip. As I looked, the scene suddenly shifted. The bunchō had flipped its orientation on the perch. It tilted its head left and right. Then the head suddenly righted itself and extended forward. The white wings beat for another fleeting moment, and the bird's feet were now at rest on the middle of the opposite perch. It cried "chi, chi" and peered at my face from a distance.
I proceeded to the washroom and washed my face. I came back through the kitchen, stopping to open the cupboard and take out the bag of millet that Miekichi had brought the evening prior. Putting the feed in one bowl and filling the other with water, I made my way back to the veranda off my study.
Miekichi is a meticulous fellow. He'd given me careful instruction on what to do at feeding time. One must take care, he had said, in opening the cage. Otherwise the bird might escape. While opening the door with the right hand, the left hand should follow underneath to block the exit and preclude flight. The same procedure must be followed when removing the food bowl. He'd demonstrated the hand movements as he'd explained. I'd neglected to ask how one handles the bowl with both hands thus occupied.
There was nothing to do but grasp the bowl and slide the door up with the back of my hand. At the same time, I used my left to block the opening. Turning to face me, the bird cried "chi, chi." My left hand didn't know where to go next. The bird showed no sign, whatsoever, of scheming its escape. I felt some shame in my own behavior - Miekichi had done us both a disservice.