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LIANA BADR

Nevertheless, there was no alternative. So I ran after him when he flew at a low altitude, immediately afterwards falling near a smooth rock, and I picked him up again so as to put him back on the tree branch. He restrained himself a little this time but it was not long before he lost his balance and fell once more.

There was no possibility of giving up, and time was running out. I had to return with my friend before it became dangerously late. He showed a little improvement at keeping his balance, trying to fly again each time. I could not take him back with me, and he had to hurry up and fly before he was finished off by the cats in the neighbouring residential district.

The seventh time he flew several metres horizontally then fell. And the eighth . . . and after more than ten attempts, he flew. He flew. Not high enough, but enough to take him away from that place and towards another.

He flew! And he disappeared! And I have not seen him again since that moment. Not long after his departure, at the end of that spring, I was again walking in that area when I noticed something that I had always seen before but that had not entered my field of vision. One of the birds of prey was circling high above like a helicopter. Staring, searching for prey, that might be a small bird like Robin. After that I began to realise that that bird was spending his days constantly circling there above the high mountain, directly above that small tree.

A high mountain, under a blue sky looking down on hills and ancient olive trees, and mountains overlooking a captivating sea, invaded by colonising settlements advancing from the histories of ancient wars. Vines still encircle the ruins of the farmers’ stone huts of long ago, and beside the sea nestle cities, whose inhabitants have left and others have taken over, after wars that have continued for decades.

All that under one sky! Is that why Robin flew far away and I have not seen him again since that moment?

Translated from the author’s collection Sama’a Waahida (One Sky),

published by Saqi Books, 2007

BANIPAL 57 – AUTUMN/WINTER 2016 15

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