When Birds are No Longer Birds: An Allegory

Palestinian PLC members from both the Hamas and Fatah factions gathering to deliver a message about the unity between both factions in the West Bank city of Hebron January 8, 2007. (MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz)

“Bird Nicer was killed by unknown birds in the central countryside, while preaching that killing is prohibited in the Birds’ Shari’a (Law)”.

In an imagined (but somehow very real) countryside there live various kinds of birds, living in peace and enjoying their life among trees, waterfalls and gardens.

Once, the birds had an idea that they should elect a chair-bird with a board, all the birds responded positively to the idea, so they set a date for such an election process. They day they set was a winter day, while they are all hibernating.

All the birds were involved actively in the electoral process, although the rains were falling heavily overhead, but they appeared very happy for such a remarkable day, unlike any they had ever experienced before.

Prior to the Election Day, the birds were sharing everything in the countryside equally; food, drink, flowers and waterfalls. They all used to live happily without any quarrels, although there was a group of blackbirds who used to maintain some kind of control over the white doves, simply because they were stronger and able to do so.

On the Election Day, the doves attempted to take hold of this newly-born democracy, in order to try to use a power that they had been deprived of throughout their life. Therefore, they mobilized a great deal of support from the other colorful, beautiful, weaker and smaller birds.

Surprisingly, the white birds, the doves, because of their lovely color, which means peace and serenity, won the elections overwhelmingly on that day.

Right after the elections on that winter day, the white birds appeared cheerful and victorious, flying everywhere in the countryside and in neighboring villages, announcing their victory.

In the meantime, the black crows, which used to enjoy some hegemony over the other birds, seemed frustrated and did not drink or eat that day.

On the second day, the white birds started to use their new power by first preventing the black birds from reaching some of the richest sources of water, making them drink from further places. They also prevented them from landing on fruit trees, allowing them only to pick green leaves.

The white birds did not only act that way, but they also formed a set of white birds and some other colorful ones to act as guards for the flowers, fruitful trees and water falls.

With the installation of that set of birds, the black birds got very angry, then quarrels and disputes started to prevail between the two sides of the birds; the black and the white.

To protect their basic resources from the black birds, the guarding birds had to fight, a thing which was unprecedented in their peaceful countryside. The black birds also had to fight back, then all the birds in this quiet place engaged in severe fighting that led to the deaths of many birds of all colors, white, black, colorful and even helpless small birds while sleeping in their nests.

News of this fighting was heard by other neighbor birds, who rushed quickly to help their neighbors quell the fighting and restore things to normal.

Such goodwill efforts by neighboring birds did manage to put a damper on the fighting and a sort of calm was restored for a while. However, the fighting has resumed again, claiming lives of many birds from both sides. It seems that the birds are not fighting for control of the water, fruits and flowers, because since the Election Day, the countryside has been and is still going through a famine.

It seems that both are just fighting for control, a control that the blackbirds used to enjoy before the white birds took over power. And the latest example of this is the killing of Nicer, a non-biased respectable bird, when he was preaching in the central countryside, telling other helpless birds that killing is totally prohibited in the birds Shar’ia (Law).

So it seems that even birds, irrespective of their colors, have turned out to no longer be just birds.

Rami Almeghari is a freelance journalist and translator in the Gaza Strip. He may be reached at rami_almeghari@hotmail.com.