And the Birds Laughed

Nils Blondon is an old friend and contributer to TRAVIS. Here is passes on some prose in his typical, undeniable style. Enjoy.

Isolation is pervasive in the city. It’s well incubated. Kept afloat in microcosmic neighbourhoods.

An abstract photo of Nils Blondon.

Eye contact is dangrous. Saying hello to a stranger could mean a stab wound. It’s an interesting place to live.
It sprouted incrementally.

From soil paved over hundreds of years ago by labourers who worked for a place in an alien society. The wages were too negligible to be considered pay. The recompense, if any, was a sense of belonging. That too would fade. But as a result of that longing to live free from the xenophobe’s gavel, the city blossomed. Although as it blossomed the sun set, the rain turned acid, allowing sterility to take hold.

Families migrated across borders yet demarcated. Animals found homes in dumpsters where there once stood trees. Cultural identity was obscured and forgotten, usurped by popular media influence. People reproduced. Some did so licentiously – in bathrooms at bars or motels that rented rooms by the hour.

And as the people spread like a spilt drink on a white rug, they became aloof. The demarcations where placed on maps by elitists. Cultural boundaries became more rigid. Technology destroyed the craft of conversation. They enmeshed themselves in phones that sent messages through imperceptible beams in the air that no one comprehends. Books grew trite. Research diluted. Auspicious housing developments deteriorated, crumbling to rubble heaps as itinerant criminals stood paces away on the corners. Family cohesion was vitiated by unfair office hours to finance over priced rentals. People threw pennies in paper cups held aloft by a homeless hand, yet never looked at their recipients face.

And it happened with such rapidity. So fast, furtive, one day someone woke up and took notice. Lecturers spoke of it in university classes.  People spat into sinks and vociferated madly.  Cursing society, reviling the intellects, reflecting upon the charms of togetherness.

And the ideas were pushed from mind, to voice box, to lung, to throat and then to a tired ear. But by that time they were inaudible. Rendered so by the other sounds, by the shrillness of a bike breaking before a red light to avoid being side swiped by a drunk driver; or an exhausted cabbie speeding back to his bachelor apartment to peer out the slits in the drapes and wish he were one of them, one of us.

And the smoke the drunks exhaled in ringlets went into the air where birds looked down upon the tempest and laughed.


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