June 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

My favourite birds are sparrows. I’m no exception with that I suppose, for many of us grew up with their high-pitched, off-key voices around us. They live in the countryside as well as in the city, and they are a pain in the ass as they cannot live alone but build colonies all year round. If they choose your roof to do that, their droppings can drive a house owner mad enough to go out shooting in the air with a World War II pistol a couple of times a day. That was what our old neighbour back in my old country used to do, and after he died, his widow continued  this Sisyphean task by going out  and clapping her hands, in a way that must have been quite painful, several times a day, too. The sparrows would set off like a cloud of tiny brown dots, fly a few circles over the house, and finally settle down again, exactly where they had been sitting before, chirping, pooping, and waiting for the widow’s reaction. She would look at them, not particularly sad, as I found, and then disappear again inside her house to come out for the next round one or two hours later. It has been one of the little choreographies of my childhood. And I think now, this ritual was more her way of paying tribute to her late husband, with whom – as everybody said in the village – she had been madly in love since she had been sixteen, than a real act of antipathy towards the sparrows. For they were probably for her the most living memory of him, and they only disappeared when she was gone too.


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