“Negative. You are where you are supposed to be. Stay calm, man,” he comforts him, while his clear, ruby eyes stare still.
At a first glance, to Ivan he is no different from all other sparrows: his wings and crown are tawdry brown feathered, with black spots irregularly and occasionally elsewhere on his body, as though he has been miserably fallen into a dark, muddy marsh, and after which these smirches are permanently left, however hard he has tried to wash them away. His beak appears to be so exceptionally short that he must, Ivan believes, be an impotent predator of worms, and must have starved had he not found someone benevolent enough to dole some seeds to him.
“Is a talking sparrow so bizarre to you? It’s you human being who look strange to us. Why can you accept a talking parrot but not a talking sparrow? Why gaze at me compassionately?” the Sparrow burst into a chain of questions.
Ivan struggles, to his best, not to think, for he fears his thoughts will be thoroughly decoded, deciphered and deduced. Yet, the more he suppresses his feelings – his overflow of powerful feelings, the more pictographs, and images overwhelm his mind, wave after wave:
A hunchbacked around-mid-seventy-old woman, whom he believed to have met some time in his college years, was strenuously hauling an almost-worn-out trolley loaded heavily with wet, disused carton papers; one train station, where he used to take trains to his high school, was congested with crowd, mostly the grey-haired. Ivan, still in his seventeen and still with full inquisitiveness, attempted to find the reason for their waiting and soon found they were after the free newspapers. Not far a skinny, crippled, little old woman, he saw, who had already collected a ten-inch-thick journals, and was about to put them onto a trolley, was going to sell them to a local recycling company for money; a large batch of demonstrators, raising high their signs written either “against hegemony of property market” or “against collusion between business and the government”, was facing off an orderly group of riot police.
His spirit remains at some exhibition of photography. He has been indeed to numberless exhibition or art galleries, but none as impacting as this one. Hot tears begin to run down Ivan’s cheeks; he stretches out his right hand to contain these redundant droplets – these droplets too transparent to be real, and too real to be dreamy. At times he thinks they are just crocodile tears, as he once swore to be indifferent to everything, and to be in jest at this city – such a deficient city that she is not even comparable to Vancouver –, and enjoys the fear, when he is old, and grey and full of sleep, that forever sleep alone in an aged home he will.
“No, Ivan, to be indifferent is to be a coward,” the Sparrow blinks his clear, ruby eyes once, and says as if a father does to his son.
Perhaps to solace him, or to promise him a better soul, in soft the Sparrow croons:
dream instead of fear,
and fear that dream goes true
my dear, who bears
fifty scars in shades of red,
begin anew, renew
and stride across the old dead!
[End of Part I]
[Featured image taken by James on 18th July, 2006 at Sendai, Japan]