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The legend of the amphibious bird

A young bird takes flight for the first time over the waters of the sea. Upon seeing the fish beneath the surface, an immense curiosity draws it towards these sublime creatures, so different. As it dives to join them, a flock of birds, its tribe, immediately interferes and warns it: "Never go with these creatures. They are not of our world, and we are not of theirs. You will perish if you venture there, just as they will perish if they decide to come with us. Our world will dispatch them, and their world will dispatch you... We are not meant to cross paths."

As the years pass, a profound melancholy takes hold of the bird, who watches these silver-scaled fish without being able to approach them. One day, as it approaches the sea to admire them, a strange vertigo overwhelms it: "I cannot abide living like this all my days, devoid of what stirs my soul. I would rather meet my end before enduring such a life." And it plunges! But its fondness for what is different is so profound that as it submerges, gills sprout from its neck, allowing it to breathe. And breathe it does! Amidst the fish, it proclaims: "It is I, the amphibious bird, here among you. I am one of your kind! I am one of your kind!"

The Persian legend of the amphibious bird filled me with wonder when it was recounted to me as a child. This tale of transformation now unsettles me for what it reveals about our era, our world, and our rapport with the other; with the adversary, one might say.

Wajdi Mouawad

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