rosewater

Singapore

alex :)
constantly nervous about everything
likes music, books, chem and soft toys
always up for an adventure (despite much trepidation)

Message to Readers

Not sure if the ending is interesting enough but oh well
Day 3! this has been the longest stretch of non-fiction writing I've ever had :|

Writing Streak Week 12 Day 3

June 17, 2020

FREE WRITING

1
By the time I found it, it was long gone. The once vibrant colours of the bird’s plumage were now muted with mold and rot and it lay splayed out on the concrete, its legs contorted and twisted. At best it had hobbled out into the garden at a ripe old age for its last breath, at worst the students who frequented the basketball court right beside the garden had made a fatal mis-shot. As I sat amongst the bushels of forget-me-not surrounding the corpse, I desperately hoped it was the former.

At the time I was accompanied by three other friends on our pilgrimage here for another solemn event: a frisbee had given our class cactus a deep gash in its side and it had slowly wilted from leaf-green to a sickly brownish-yellow colour. We were going to bury it amongst the small sunflowers in the garden.

At first glance I yelped and turned away, being one repulsed by dead things which was made obvious by my squeamish attitude at every dissection in Biology lesson. The other three, being far more levelheaded than I was, gave not much of a reaction. Yet somehow when the shock factor had worn out tears I didn't understand began to well up in my eyes. It was just a bird, and the others were completely fine about it. Why wasn't I?

It was then one sat down beside me and began to talk, while the other two remained silent but close. She told me how as a Jain her and fellow believers believed in reincarnation, and how all beings go through different lives until they achieve liberation. She told me the bird was now alive somewhere else, flying through some distant sky. As someone who did not subscribe to a similarly reincarnation-based religion, I couldn't say I believed her. But I understood she was taking something that meant the world to her and more and using it to help me, so I appreciated the effort nonetheless. Eventually I dried my tears and we returned back to class, after saying our goodbyes to both the bird and our cactus.

The next day was a rainy Saturday morning, which meant I was up and ready for an orchestra rehearsal. As I hefted my violin case over my shoulder, I opened the door only to see a tiny bird, perched right outside our doorstep. Even as I approached it remained motionless, its eyes fixated on the rain pounding outside. Only when I ran back inside to get a grain of rice to feed it did it fly away.

Later I messaged one of the friends present who had been silent throughout my breakdown about the bird and the strange coincidence of it all. Hesitantly, I typed, "Do you think it could be the bird that passed away?"

The reply pinged onto my phone almost instantly. "Sure," it read. "Why not?"

If this were some bestseller young adult fantasy novel the bird would have been the reincarnated soul of the corpse we had seen, perhaps some mythical spirit in disguise. It would bestow me, the plain yet secretly extraordinary protagonist, supposedly deeply flawed and awkward yet perfect in every way during the narrative, with mystical powers unlike ever seen before. Unfortunately, this story will never make it to the top shelves- I have yet to uncover my potential as the next Spiderman. I haven't even encountered a single vampire yet. Most likely the tiny bird I saw on the doorstep was completely unrelated, just a little friend taking shelter from the pouring rain.

But after we observe a minute of silence to mourn the narrative potential the practicalities of real life murdered in this story, I will admit that the experience did give me some insights into mortality and life in general. In only a month the corpse had completely decomposed and everyone was none the wiser, and in this manner we too one day will disappear from the Earth. However, regardless of whether one believes in reincarnation, one cannot deny that we will leave traces of ourselves behind. Be it our actual soul, or descendants, or fond memories of us in others' hearts. To this day I don't know who that bird at my doorstep really was, but I do know the sunflowers, enriched by the nutrients given by the bird and our cactus, still bloom in the garden as brightly as ever.

This thought is one I hold close to my chest through the ups and downs of life. It's not easy and it's not much, frankly, but I try to remember this going through everyday motions, giving meaning to the door I held open for someone, meaning to the smile I offered someone, meaning to scattered pile of worksheets I gathered for someone. In hopes that one day I leave behind something just as beautiful as those sunflowers.
Jain- A follower of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion

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