home! Sanyal exclaimed. What is
the matter? Do you think that show off Afghanistani falcon you are
looking at came here doing those fancy gyrations? He beamed. You
will learn, too and better. He put his wing on Ajay's
shoulder. Come along now. Cheer up! You
need to eat something.
From the first, it
seemed quite natural to Ajay that Sanyal could read his thoughts.
There was an immediate empathy and trust between them. Without
further argument, he flew behind the novice master to a tree at the
border of the forest, where a number of young birds were roosting.
He was introduced all around, and he could tell by the diffident
manner of his new classmates that they were in the same predicament
as himself. He was perhaps no better skilled than they, but he was
surely not worse. After eating, he felt immeasurably better. He
determined not only to stay on but to learn whatever he was taught.
He could do it. He knew he could do it. He caught Sanyal's eye, and
the young instructor threw back his head and laughed. Ajay laughed
too, ruffling his neck and head feathers.
Sanyal turned out
to be a hard taskmaster, and the discipline at the College was
rigorous. From dawn - after ablutions, preening, and prayers until
noon it was one class after another; then a good lunch and a brief
rest, and then practice, practice, practice, until the sun set.
After a light supper the students, too tired for merriment, flew
back to their hostelries, and once settled, each in his assigned
spot, fell instantly to sleep.