The Swallow and the Wind


Short Story by Fouad Kandil
Translated by Abdel-Moneim Habib



- 1 -

Flying, the swallow was flying; swift-flying and beautiful.
The swallow was trying to recover some straw from the gusty wind. Whenever it collected a straw, the wind would snatch it and push it away. It chased the straw, fluttering hard in vain. It fluttered and collected more but the wind was there to deprive the swallow of the straws. The struggle took some time, yet the wind didn’t stop either. Signs of exhaustion started to take its toll; the bird’s breath heavily withered bit by bit. Its movement began to diminish, and eventually, the swallow fell from the sky; tiny and beautiful it was.

- 2 –

I longed for a cup of tea whilst I was drawn to a Beethoven Sonata. The tunes were rapidly dancing, fluttering like a shivering persona. The melody flowed in harmony. I longed for a hot cup of tea. I was about to get up, but the cold hindered me, so I stayed in bed. I wrapped myself up, but with the tunes I forgot the cold was there. The music seeped into my body like warm breeze, like confidence and love. I waded through, I ceased to exist, and became one with the music.
On the wall, I saw the shadow of the struggling swallow. Tiny and beautiful it was. The melodic line drew a part of the bird’s features with every beat, its nervous wings, active beak, swirl of wind. I woke up at my brother calling:
- Don’t you hear? Would you like a cup of tea?
I pointed with my forefinger to indicate my refusal.
Why did the bird lie prostrate and shattered? It longed for a tiny pretty nest; as it was itself tiny and beautiful.

- 3 –

Fading beats filtered from afar, from behind the intervening space. From the meta-human capacity it indicates the bird’s breaths and heart beats. Hurray! It is alive. I waited for it to move, but it didn’t, and nothing it did. Ah! It hadn’t moved, but it is not dead.
The breaths remained in the in-between state. It whispered admitting impotence, yet holding on to the marvelous mundane thread.
I tensely watched its condition.
The tunes became louder and louder. I listened with my eyes, as the bird raised its front fluffy down on the wall. I saw it with my ears. It got up; the tunes carry it up as it stood steady on its feet. It proudly pondered the surrounding universe. The tunes rose in a rapid frenetic pecking. All of a sudden, the bird swooned on the straw, filling its beak and collecting all of it with the wings, feet and every possible means.
The wind was rejuvenated. It howled and roared. From the grip of the wind, the bird flew high into the space. The swallow put the straw in the corner where its old nest was atop a sycamore tree. The storm had blown everything away a few days ago.
The melodic lines were voraciously and cleverly drawing the picture. The bird returned. The tune became calmer. The wind surrounded the bird and the tune got jittery. The bird flew higher and clung to a branch to watch the frenzied wind.
The swallow got potential force and went on to gather more straw anew. With every straw the tune got more tense and furious, and the attacks increased, the pecking got louder and the determination stronger. It attacked and assaulted, gathered and collected. The wind swirled faltering around the bird.
When the bird filled its beak with the straw, it fluttered into the space and darted confidently to its nest. It tenderly and slowly started to build its nest on the wall. It tried to smooth the nest with its downy fluff and measure it with the wings. It stood and lied down, then craned its neck as far as it could stretch it. Is there a pending danger? What sort of danger and where could it come from? It stood up. It covered the branches and the open space with its looks, high and low. Everything is fine. The bird perched and slept. Only then, did Beethoven’s fingers stop on the keys.