A little sparrow is trapped inside a corner in a large human-purposed shopping mall. It flies around looking for a way out, but to no avail.
My senses connect with the bird in its distress and anxiety, I feel a tingling in my scalp, shortness of breath and tightness in muscles around ribcage. Nausea creeps in before I know it. The taste of my orange juice at the back of my throat has turned into a vile, sickly yet sharp dry metallic-sour taste, like acid burning the sensitive mucosa around my throat. Dryness is setting in and I must remind myself to swallow and breathe deeply.
The poor bird. My mind is working out ways to capture the bird and take it outside. But I do not have a shawl or towel with me, and it is flying too frantically anyway.
The room is tossing and turning in concentric circles around me, and the soundscape of human voices and piped pseudo-jazz music is slowly distorting in my brain into a muffled, slow-motion eerie kaleidoscope of dark purple colours and rancid vomitus.
And the hapless bird continues to fly, round and round, across, up and down.
The humans inhabiting the space, dotted around the room at small square tables, are all too engrossed in either their mobile phones or social chatter. Not a single person averse their gaze to look at the sparrow, not a single expression of concern. They share no empathic resonance with this sorry, desperate creature.
Soon, it will become too exhausted and maybe even crushed by the impact of smashing against windows, and will just fall to the ground and die. A slow, anxious, fear-filled death.
Just a sparrow? Not to me.
A small entity exuding overwhelming pain, confusion and wretchedly forlorn fear. Screaming fear, even. Fluttering. Flapping. Smashing. Falling. Rising. Da capo. Until there is strength no more. Not a twitter. No time and mental space to cry out. Just white hot futile determination. And then, there is silence and life is spent.
My heart feels squeezed tightly like a wrinkled old orange.
Heavy with sadness.
Overwhelmed by elemental empathy.
(Shop staff have become aware of the sparrow. Let’s hope something can be done to help the poor creature.)