When you think that things cannot get worse, a beautiful bird of the canal comes dying in front of your kitchen window, just on time for lunch. Throughout the preparation of my vegetable soup, I stared at my little dead friend, and cried. Those thin bent legs, as if it tried to take one last step but couldn’t and died in that uncomfortable position. Why. Did it eat too much plastic? Was it old age? A stroke? Did I kill it? The Sunday parade of people taking a stroll on the canal showcased all of your typical range of human responses to death. From the horrified look, with wide eyes and open lips, to the sad-eyes-bent-head, to the indifferent gaze. Some stopped to check if the creature was still alive, poking it with a piece of cardboard. A young girl with pink trousers used the said piece of cardboard to caress the dead beast for a whole, long minute. I had my lunch in silence, and when I finished I went to the window to check if the dead bird was still there. The dead bird was still there, unmoved. So I put my bag of shit inside a black bin bag and went outside. I grabbed the dead bird with the piece of cardboard, gently squeezing its soft belly of plumes, put it inside the black bin bag with my shit and threw them both in a bin on the main road. Amen.
Shit and death are two things which many people in the West don’t like to talk about. They may find them a bit scary and a bit disgusting. Yet we all experience them at some point, sometimes simultaneously. Since I was a child I have been taken around to see dead relatives lying in coffins or on their own beds, waiting to be buried, so I don’t find it strange nor disgusting. Dead people never really resemble their alive selves anyway. I don’t know if birds do. I didn’t know this bird before its death, so it’s hard to tell. It was incredibly sad nevertheless.
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the bird has died outside my window today, which was the first day when the reality of the end of love started to sink in. Just in case I was going to have any other second thoughts, dead bird swept them all away.
Death is always present in love, for each relationship bears the seed of its end within. And maybe that’s why many of us find every way to avoid loving and being loved.