The Masters Review Blog

Jun 5

New Voices: “Pigeons in Every Universe” by Kiran Kaur Saini

Our first New Voices story comes to us from Kiran Kaur Saini! In this moving flash fiction, our young bedridden neighbor finds a penpal using messenger pigeons, under the guidance of her grandfather. Despite the obstacles that arise, as the end nears, her grandfather assures her: “a pigeon always finds its way home.” Read “Pigeons in Every Universe” in full at the link below!

Every morning I can’t wait to hear from Grapa if a message has returned. My penpal lives on an island, the wall of her city holding back the sea. She describes the cathedrals, the grottos tucked into the walls by the waves. I tell her how tired Ma is after her double shifts, how pigeons high in the air can look like miniature airplanes, and how Grapa gives me drills to keep me a strong soldier even in bed.

Ma is banging pots in the kitchen, and this is how I know Grapa is on the roof feeding the pigeons. The HOA had a meeting about him and Ma is worried about eviction.

Grapa and I have a coop hidden up there. On days I feel well enough to climb the stairs, he shows me how to gently cup their bodies, support their legs between my fingers, how to clean their loft and secure the landing board when it droops under a hundred touchdowns. Most importantly, he shows me how to clip the small message capsules to their legs. Got to keep your skills up, he says. Stay sharp. Be ready. Grapa doesn’t talk much, and never about the war, about the battles, his buddies, or why he limps. But he tells me a pigeon will carry my message whether it’s shot at, loses an eye or a foot, or gets punctured through the wing. A pigeon will always remember your kindness, he says, and will deliver a message you couldn’t send any other way.

Our pigeons return with only my own note. I am 12. I like physics and adventure stories. What do you like?

No one uses pigeons anymore, Ma says. They’re pests now.

Did you know the pigeon is actually a dove? Grapa says. A symbol of peace and faith.

The first reply comes after I get too sick to climb to the roof anymore. I’ve stopped going to school but still do homework from my bed. The days have become long and tedious, each the same. Grapa brings the first message like a Christmas present. I tremble to unscrew the capsule and retrieve the scroll. I haven’t studied physics, but I love stories about pirates and watching the sea.

The sea! Could this person live by the sea? I ask Grapa, Could a pigeon travel so far?

A pigeon can fly home a thousand miles, he says. In just a day or two. They’ll find their way through any obstacle.

I grab a pencil and scribble in miniature. I wish I could see the sea. But for now I can only see the sky. What grade are you in?

You have a penpal, Grapa says. Had one myself as a boy.

To continue reading “Pigeons in Every Universe” click here.

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