Sunday, September 19, 2021

Tabada: Little bird


“‘Sesame Street” was brought to you today by the letter ‘M’ and the number ‘7’...”

I watched the “Sesame Street,” a show intended for preschoolers, long after I thought of myself as a child.

I knew intimately the “people in the neighborhood” of Sesame Street long before I knew the first names of a few people on the street where I actually lived for some 25 years.

When Papang caught me watching another rerun and suggested switching off the TV set to save power, I heard his voice in a tiny echo from a long way down inside the trash can where my favorite, Oscar, nurses his grouches.

Of course, Oscar likes to seem nasty. Deep inside, though, he waits, like me, for someone with whom to pass the time.

I love Bob, Maria and Mr. Hooper. The human adults though never became as simpatico as Ernie and Bert, as free and easy as Cookie Monster and as mesmerizing as the Count.

And Big Bird. The yellow bird towering above a nest behind a wall that was a crazy quilt of discarded doors once left me ambivalent. I found his simple nature frequently annoying but often felt guilty for dismissing this oversized young bird as a “bird-brained” simpleton.

It has been a long time since I went back to the ‘hood. A world governed by acceptance and harmony, by the exploration of letters and numbers, is light years away from my universe of acrimony wrapped up by news reports and pandemic updates.

Strangely, it is a character I half-despised that brings me reassurance. Recently, I found myself almost in tears after disposing the carcass of a bird that the cats turned into a toy.

After an excursion into the streets, Kitkat came with a gift for her kittens. Its neck broken, the bird was not eviscerated, which made a bit of improvement over the headless, wingless, legless roaches later cleaned up by the ants.

The small dun bird looked at peace, its head tucked under a wing. Then Wiggy, the young cat, claimed the carcass, tossing this then catching it in mid-air, and rolling with it. The hunt, perhaps, is a timeless story mothers tell their children in the feline version of show-don’t-tell.

Caught up with chasing a deadline, I later found the cats and kittens covered in a drift of feathers. The body was quickly scooped and buried but the feathers, slight and light and multitudinous, defied the broom.

The slightest sweeping motion tossed each feather into the air. Each feather settled back. The cycle began again.

Beyond its brief life, the bird left reminders that being is more than mass. Death does not put out the lights. In the endless exhalation is release to the vast and infinite.


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