𝑩𝒚 𝑨𝒍𝒂𝒔𝒂𝒏 𝑪𝒆𝒆𝒔𝒂𝒚
In the tranquil and enchanting evening at Kiang, a picturesque region along The Gambia’s lower river, I immersed myself in the delights of a Christmas holiday at the charming Kangtong Kunda village. As the sun gracefully descended below the horizon, casting a warm golden glow over the landscape, I embarked on a leisurely stroll along the idyllic riverbank, affectionately known to locals as Jayfèrè kunku.
To my sheer astonishment, I stumbled upon a mesmerising congregation of birds perched by the riverside in an area known as Bàntàng-kûnû. Astonishingly, these avian creatures appeared to be shedding tears,their eyes filled with an undeniable empathy as they observed the nearby humans. Though taken aback by this extraordinary sight, I continued my gentle saunter, traversing the enchanting narrow pathways of Jàngmàrr Fàro and meandering through Suu-fara, before finally arriving home at 19:02 GMT.
As I entered the village, the mellifluous voice of Ba-Sitafa of Kungkàli Kunda resonated through the air, heralding the Magrib prayers. My esteemed elder cousin, Koto Sutay, who has dutifully shouldered my family’s entitled responsibility of serving as the village’s imam for generations, prepared to lead the congregation at the village mosque. With the vivid memory of those empathetic birds etched deeply in my mind, I felt a sense of wonder and an eager desire to unravel the enigmatic mystery behind their tearful gaze.
On yet another splendid day, I embarked on a journey deep into the heart of the forest, following the slender trails that intricately wound between the trees, all leading to Bàñg-tańg Kunû. Once again, the woodland resonated with the soul-stirring melodies of countless birds, observing humanity from a distance with their tender and empathetic gazes.
Overwhelmed by surprise and a tremor coursing through my veins, I chanced upon a tranquil haven where I could regain my composure, finding solace in the comforting presence of these empathetic feathered creatures. Gathering my thoughts, I ran homeward, following the Jayfère Kunkû trail that meandered through the labyrinthine Sîtàjang-ding pathways.
As spring unfolded and weariness set in, my bewilderment at the birds’ lament seemed to deepen. It was time to pause, to catch my breath. I sought respite upon a flat-topped termite mound, locally known as “Baba Tûñgo.” Clasping a long tree branch in my left hand, I gently traced patterns in the dusty sand beneath me. As I cradled the branch, sweeping it through the sand, my thoughts drifted back to a poignant ostrich bird song that my dear mother, Rahmatullah, affectionately known as Mba’ara, used to sing as a tender lullaby, coaxing me into sleep while I cradled on her back. The heartfelt lyrics were as follows:
Jali Kunôo Kunu Ba Mansoo
Kunôo Kûng-bôota Kàng-dîmaa…
Suruntukunoo, Kunû Kaŋ-jang Baa,
Aliŋ A Taamu Taaku Fèa.
Translated into English:
Respect the bird, the majestic and noble King,
The bird that sings with a harmonious sound,
The ostrich bird, with its elegant, elongated neck,
Let us walk together,
This was the melody that graced my childhood, the melody that seemed to soothe the echoes of the birds cries in the forest around me. The echo of my mother’s lullaby, a balm to my weary heart.
As the days unfolded, I sought solace in the courtyard of my family’s compound, Tangba Kunda. Evenings would find me blissfully unwinding on top of a distinctive structure we called bengtengo. It was a sturdy, rustic wooden canopy, charmingly uneven, crafted from branches of locally sourced bung-kungô trees. This hearty sanctuary could accommodate up to ten adults and children, offering solace to those weary from the day’s labour in the fields. Here, they would gather, soothing their aching bodies while sharing tales of the day’s trials, triumphs, and the village gossip. Once again, as I gazed skyward, I noticed another flock of birds watching over the humans below. Their sorrow was palpable, tears streaming from their eyes in sadness for mankind.
Compelled to understand their sympathy and anguish, I asked the birds as to why they felt such pity for us. The leader of the flock responded, questioning why humans couldn’t appreciate the beauty, serenity, happiness, and joy that arise from treating each other with kindness, compassion, and love. They expressed bewilderment at humanity’s inability to grasp the immense happiness that emanates from being loving, caring, and supportive, instead opting for conflict, cruelty, and harm.
The wise bird went on to explain the straightforward concept: when we inflict harm upon others, the same misfortune will befall us, and vice versa. A world brimming with joyous moments can be created simply by treating one another with love and care.
The story of the empathetic birds serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of kindness and compassion in our daily lives. It underscores the need for mindfulness in our actions and the importance of treating others with respect and empathy. The world becomes a better place when we unite in love and harmony, drawing wisdom from animals like the birds in this tale.
As we navigate the complexities of life, it becomes imperative to remember the value of treating others with kindness, love, respect, and compassion. The empathetic birds symbolise our better selves, showcasing the potential we all possess to make a positive impact on the world around us. It is through our connections with others that we comprehend our shared humanity. By acknowledging this truth and acting with empathy, we can foster unity and dismantle the barriers that often divide us. As we strive to emulate these birds in our own lives, we can forge a more harmonious and nurturing world for all.
Furthermore, by treating others with love and compassion, we not only enhance their lives but enrich our own. This powerful cycle of positivity has the potential to uplift entire communities, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond our immediate circles. In a world that can at times appear cold and unkind, it becomes our responsibility to counterbalance this negativity with the warmth of our hearts and the depth of our empathy.
In conclusion, the teachings of the empathetic birds serve as a profound and timeless reminder of the power within each of us to create a better world. By embracing kindness, love, respect, and compassion, we can construct bridges of understanding and foster a sense of unity among all individuals. Let us draw inspiration from these wise creatures and strive to embody their lessons in our own lives, for the betterment of ourselves, our communities, and the wider world.
𝑨𝒍𝒂𝒔𝒂𝒏 𝑪𝒆𝒆𝒔𝒂𝒚, 𝒂 𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒅𝒖𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒖𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒂𝒕 𝑪𝒂𝒎𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒈𝒆 𝑼𝒏𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝑹𝒂𝒉𝒎𝒂 𝑭𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑮𝒂𝒎𝒃𝒊𝒂 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑹𝒂𝒉𝒎𝒂𝑻𝒆𝒄𝒉 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑼𝑲, 𝒆𝒍𝒐𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒍𝒚 𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒉𝒖𝒎𝒂𝒏 𝒊𝒈𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝒘𝒊𝒔𝒅𝒐𝒎. 𝑻𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒆𝒗𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒗𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒔 𝒖𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒇𝒍𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒖𝒑𝒐𝒏 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒆𝒎𝒃𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒔𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏.