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What the giraffe saw
from "Les Fables de Saab"

by Carl Saab | October 28, 2005


Dear Gray Bird,

At the same time of every year, I usually migrate south and intrude upon you as a welcome guest on your hospitable land. I write to you hastily this year to express my sincere regrets for not being able to visit you like I did for the past decade. As an arid summer has past and a stormy winter approaches, I must at least share with you my deepest concern over recent events that shook the land in the most remote of lands. As I flew south I saw smoke from Babylon and drought from Syria. Most urgently, I was advised that I must fly over your land and never look below. I share with you rumors you must already know or have experienced yourself.

Rumor has it that hyenas have ambushed the tiger in your land. That tiger was well known to be the greatest predator, always hunting big animals in the food chain but leaving carcasses for the rest of us to feed on. Now I'm aware that you're not a meet lover, but one has to admit that, with bigger animals busy with the tiger's leftovers, you're more likely to be spared their grunt.

Hyenas are known for their sneaky and despicable ways; but the worst part of the story is yet to come... Allegedly, a giraffe witnessed the hyenas getting their orders from the ultimate predator of them all! The story told is that the master of the jungle, the lion himself, is behind the plot to sideline the great tiger. With its long neck and camouflaged skin, the giraffe went about telling her story to everyone.

With your eerie and refined sense of justice, this perhaps may not come to you as a surprise my dear common gray bird; you who were born and survived in the jungle, must have seen it all. After all, how many innocent animals had the tiger himself massacred? And how many other beasts and less beastly animals had been ripped to pieces by hyenas? All this and more must have happened under a clear blue sky when rabbits and gerbils peacefully spread across the land, hidden from the watchful eyes of their predator by long hale and hearty crops, where bees and ants rush to meet the sun, while you anxiously pick every little branch to build and reinforce your nest ahead of winter. Isn't that how life in the jungle is like after all? Indeed, why should you be surprised?

Anyway, I write to you at the risk of sounding naïve, not to deride why we were the chosen ones at the bottom of the food chain, or ask why higher predators don't shed a tear before they open their wide jaws to devour a helpless prey in awe. I simply write to you in admiration for your wisdom and great pride in your land. Whereas I unhesitatingly migrate when temperature drops few degrees and head south, leave my land for distant warmth in a distant land I call virtual home, you stay put, bear the weight of all the evil in the jungle, and stick it in the face of the big predators.

I see you everywhere my little common gray bird, yet everywhere I see you, you are resilient, fighter in your own way, hardworking and just. A cold winter lies ahead, and though I know you won't accept my invitation to travel south with me, I only wish you keep this story in mind, for no one in this jungle pretends to be an angel: "There is a lion in every jungle. But to kill one tiger or to pick on ripe apples or little insects is just as bad".

And so every one of us in this harsh jungle must do away with hunting as a natural phenomenon. But wait till I tell you stories about acts of greed and revenge that happened in a jungle not so far from where you are, of things unheard off in the animal kingdom, acts of terror only known to be committed by the ultimate beast of all: Man! Perhaps for now my dear friend I'll spare you this ugliness till next year when you've already through with this eventful winter and over your grudge against tigers, hyenas and lions; till then, rest in your little nest and beware of God-made disasters like hurricanes and earth-quakes...


Migratory Bird.

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