The store’s front door was wide open. Although it had windows, they were taped with black dustbin bags and no one along the market could see what was inside. It was a very dark corner of the market so the passers-by were few and far between. I walked in cautiously.
It was a pet store. I have never seen a pet store in Nigeria before but there, in this danky part of the market was an assortment of birds in cages. They sung sweetly from their bays and I followed their sweet sonorous sounds to euphoria.
One particular bird shone bright in the corner of the store. There was a hole in the zinc roofing and the rust particles dropped dust through a thin beam of sunlight. I walked up to the hummingbird to see it up close. It whistled and hopped. It was such a frail, little thing. I couldn’t help but admire it.
The owner of the store emerged. Her name was Feyikemi. I remember her name so vividly because of the way she introduced herself to me. She bowed with her hips very low as though to courtesy and reached for my hand and kissed it. Her accent was a beige wall of eccentricities.
“Why is your beautiful store so dark? Do these wonderful birds not deserve to taste the sun and see the light?” I asked. She smiled. From under her torn wrapper, she handed me birdseed and asked me to join her to feed the chirping beauties. The whole time, my attention was focused on the tweeting hummingbird in the corner.
She looked at me a second time and handed me the key to the front door. “Here you go. It’s yours”, she said. “I have fed these birds my whole life and now it is time for me to chase my real passion. I am going to the light for which my creator has called me and I shall be with you in spirit.”
“Why me?” I asked but she had no reply. As she walked out of the store, she tore off the bin bags and opened up all of the cages. She smiled deeply, her heart was full of joy.
“I have opened up the cages but you dear boy, must give these birds their freedom.” What a cryptic message, I thought but all my fear was out the window with the bin bags. She left the store.
The birds chirped and chirped away but no matter how much I took them out of the cage, they would still fly back in. What a conundrum! How was I to free these beautiful creatures and let them spread their wings in the noon day air? How was I to show them that the world was their oyster? Was I to become a bird myself?
I sat down on the floor and I began to pray. The lesson here was freedom and its dividends were the hate of fear and then all that remained was ascension. Do you have the courage and boldness to slay your fears? Let’s get these beautiful mocking jays, hummingbirds and falcons out into the air.
Written by John Noble