A Day in the Life of a Bird
The sun’s rays spills across the earth and warms the patched roofs of working-class families. Soon, the chirping of the Eurasian tree sparrows can be heard. A typhoon has ravaged the area a month ago. Most families have returned to their houses but they are disheartened. The flood brought important belongings with it and left only muck. The people are getting by, an admirable cultural quality. Nevertheless, around them, the warm heat of desperation is palpable. Some children cry for food. A Eurasian tree sparrow starts its day, hoping to find morsels of food and survive.
Flitting rapidly from one mango branch to the next, a tree sparrow looks for insects. Normally, it prefers insects but now it cannot be choosy and even discarded, rotting soft food would do. All mangoes were wiped out either by winds or consumed by fellow animals. Insects are likewise scarce. Weakened by hunger, the sparrow stops at the tallest branch. Its head actively searches for food. Other sparrows are nearby, scavenging as well. The sun warms the feathers of the sparrow quickly. It feels hungrier now as it searches for food in every nook and cranny of trees and grasses, bushes and garbage cans. It finds some rice grains but a pack of swallows beat it to it and somehow beat the former up as well. Hunger makes them violent. The sparrow leaves and finds some grains at a big house where the caretaker feeds birds. But the grains are few as doves already ate them all.
The swallow should be satisfied as it already had some grains from another house but it keeps on rummaging around for food, unaware of a group of five scrawny boys preparing their slingshots. Before it manages to fly away, a small rough stone hurtles towards its head. The swallow falls down, dizzy and confused. The pack of boys runs to it, surrounding it with homemade slingshots in their hands. One of the smallest of them says, “I got it! One shot only!” The other ones pat his shoulders, “Well done! Not too bad for a first-timer!” The small boy responds, “Can we eat it?” The tallest responds, “Nah, it’s all bones, no meat, unless we deep fry it. But we don’t have oil, so what should we do with it?” The smallest boy pokes the bird with its slingshot, “It’s still alive. Can it still fly? Maybe…Maybe I should take it home and nurse it back, you know, I want to be a doctor someday.” The others laugh at him. One says, “These birds die quickly in a cage. If you leave it out here, a cat, dog, or rat may eat it. Also, there are ants.” As they discuss what to do with the bird, it breathes heavily, thinking of its nest.
The swallow has seven healthy chicks waiting for it. She is looking for more food to bring to them. As the humans talk about her fate, she longs for her babies. Thinking sadly, it may have been better that she has not left them because at least, they can die hungry together. Now, if she dies, her babies die alone, crying for both their mother and food. She remembers the smallest of them, begging for her to stay and not leave them behind. She is a mother and will never let her babies die too easily. Fighting for survival is both a responsibility and an instinct. She feels horribly alone. The father of the chicks has died during the typhoon, looking for food in the dark. Something may have hit it or eaten it as the father never returned.
Ribs hurting, the sparrow may have broken them during the nasty fall down the unpaved road. Her breathing weakens every second and falls asleep. The sun is already setting when she opens her eyes and finds herself in the palm of the smallest boy. Apparently, he won the debate on what to do with her. The trees look familiar here. The boy sheds a tear and places her near the bushes, “Goodbye, bird, I’m sorry. I think we killed you for nothing.” The swallow breathes heavily. She may just be okay. She has to be okay for she can hear her chicks wailing nearby. Flapping her wings, she flies to be with her babies. At the nest, she cries with them all.