ONCE UPON a time, there was a bird.
It flew and flew for a long time, over great distances, over lakes, mountains and forests, over deserts, countries and valleys, over vast oceans and across mighty fields of thought.
One day, as it was flying over such a field of thought, it looked down and saw a little girl playing in the red-brown soil of Owerri, a small town in south-eastern Nigeria. Dressed in a short, tie-dyed west African boubou and skipping merrily on bare feet behind her father’s house, the little girl threw thoughts up into the air, bright blue and yellow thoughts, the way other children throw up ribbons and balls. And when the thoughts went into the air, they would take wing and fly high into the sky, so high up that not even the bird could see the height into which they soared.
One by one they would then, after a long while, reappear in the visible firmament as they began their downward flight to the girl. Upon their descent the thoughts were bigger, brighter, more beautiful, and they all bore a crown on their heads. This the bird could see.
By the time the thoughts returned to the girl, her father’s house had washed away and she had grown into a woman, a young and beautiful woman with a silent sorrow on her face, a deep question in her eyes, a lovely, innocent yet knowing smile upon her lips. For in the period in which her thoughts had flown to heaven, many men and women had loved and left her. Some had loved her too little and some had loved her too much. But none had loved her enough. Now she stood there with the universal question in her heart; the search for her destiny.
A song. Beautiful was the song that came out of the bird, descended along with the woman’s returning thoughts. One by one, her thoughts alighted on her breast, folded their wings around her like in an embrace and dissolved into her. As each thought disappeaed back into her, her eyes became brighter, the sadness upon her ebony features faded away, little by little, the question gradually disappeared, and she gradually grew up… until the last thought had reunited itself with her, and she stood there, tall, pretty, mature, clear.
Then did she hear the song… the song of the bird… it pierced her heart like a bird’s beak penetrating into the heart of a wild honey flower and told her wild and gentle stories of things forgotten and remembered. Like the sunflower her heart exploded open and she looked up…
And she saw the sun!
And while she revelled in the sight of the sun, for since attaining adulthood she had not noticed the sun anymore, the bird flapped it’s wings again and flew on, flew away. By the time the woman, filled with the sun, looked around in the sky for the source of the lovely song that made her look up in the first place and awakened her to the sun…, the bird was long gone.
Once upon a time, there was a bird… on and on it flew, over fields of thought and gentle growth. Simple is her song:
Remember the sun, look up –
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
From my book of inspirational short stories and anecdotes:
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE