low aspalathus. We search for various types of small lilies, with rippling, rose-like sheen, our tense gazes like closed petals, bursting towards their ripeness, as if we are redrawing the freedom of release from the closed borders imposed upon us. We complete our tour, and the small bird with the closed eye is wrapped in the shawl against my chest, and we took him along with us.
At home, I named him Robin, based on the assurances of our birdloving neighbour. When I expressed my doubt about the name due to the incomplete red ruff on his neck feathers, he told me: “This is a young bird. The full red has not yet appeared on his feathers.”
At home, I put him under a sieve made of metal wire and left him some water and seeds. The first day passed and he was rigid and motionless. He stood frozen, as if he had been glued in place. He could not be seen clearly between the thin metal wires, as his dark colouring blended with the metal. He was unmoving and did not budge. I recalled the day a canary froze in my house, when his cage accidentally fell from the window ledge while I was out. The shock had caused it to stand frozen in place for two days without eating or drinking. Thus, I assessed that Robin would get better after a day or two.
It seemed to me then that however small birds are they have expressions and we can understand how they feel from their appearance. Movement is a sign of happiness. I put down some seeds and water for him and at night I felt pleased because he was in a safe place. He did not move the next day either, but a few seeds were missing from the handful that I had put in the dish.
I had to wait, listening to the Israeli loudspeakers circulating with the Jeeps for three more days until they announced the lifting of the curfew. During that time Robin did not move and he did not make a sound. There was nothing to indicate that he was getting better except his closed eye, which began to open little by little, although it remained smaller than his main, healthy eye.
I asked our neighbour, the bird breeder, whether I should keep him or release him. He assured me that Robin was a wild bird and could not endure captivity if he lived in a cage inside the house and that the best thing was definitely to return him to the wild as soon as possible before he became depressed and stopped eating and drinking.
I tossed and turned for a long time in bed, lying, as I did every
BANIPAL 57 – AUTUMN/WINTER 2016 13