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27 Jan 2012 00:00
I am not entirely convinced this story is worth telling to an audience. Perhaps I should tell it only to a select few for fear of being judged by the wrong kind of listener.
The incident left me with a feeling of self-rejection, which on the one hand was unpleasant, yet on the other provided me with the material for my next column.
It was an overcast but hot day. Unlike most people in the Rosebank Mall, I was walking at a high speed, talking on the phone like somebody who needs to prove that she is busy. My pace was broken by the sight of a small bird lying on its side, struggling to emit a sound from its half-open beak. One foot was still and the other moved back and forth. It was creating a sort of one-winged sand angel. My heart stopped. I put down the bags I was carrying and scooped the bird on to the edge of a concrete flowerbed.
I looked around for help and noticed a few people watching me, two security guards in particular.
I didn’t know what to do. I was angry that the people who had walked that path before me had walked over and around the bird without helping it. But my anger also stemmed from the fact that I had now inflicted this responsibility upon myself.
About a minute passed before the security guards came to see what I was going to do next. I kept asking them something, I’m not sure what, but they looked at me blank-faced, the woman retorting in Venda. I looked for a person who might know what to do with a wounded bird, but saw only dumbfounded onlookers.
I turned to Twitter, asking the virtual world for the nearest vet in Rosebank, knowing that I did not have the time to wait for the response. I called an animal-loving friend in Cape Town and asked her what to do. I was hot with frustration. She told me to get a box and that her personal assistant would send me numbers of the bird sanctuary and vets near Rosebank.
By the time I had put the bird in a small box I had demanded from PostNet, my friend had sent me the numbers and Twitter had responded with contacts in Rosebank. I was shaking as I power-walked through the mall to my car, trying not to move the box that contained the bird. I felt stupid that I was crying as I drove out, but I focused on the loss of life. By the time I got to the robots near Oxford and Bolton, I noticed that the bird’s leg had stopped moving. It was dead.
I drove home, reflecting on life’s contradictions.
My housemate didn’t know what to say when she arrived home and found me on the balcony in tears. As I buried the bird in our complex’s garden, I apologised to it and to myself. I said out loud: “Mili, I think you have officially become a white person.”
The following day, my housemate said to me: “I think we are ready to get a cat.’’
“Yes,’’ I said, smiling. ‘‘It has to be a ginger boy.’‘
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