Monday, January 4, 2010

A hundred thousand swifts

Outside a disused shophouse, Aerial is intrigued by swooping swifts.


Aerial: Is it a swallow?
 Azmera: It’s a swift. Every morning at 6 they fly out, and every evening at 6 they return. A hundred thousand of them.
Aerial: A hundred thousand. They go in and out where?
Azmera: See that window? A hundred thousand of them squeeze through that twice a day.
Aerial: Don’t they bump each other?
Azmera: They have radar. Like bats.
Aerial: Why do you keep them?
Azmera: I harvest their nests. The nests are made of swift saliva. Sell them to Hong Kong for bird’s nest soup.
Aerial: Don’t the swifts mind you taking their nests?
Azmera: I take the disused nests. They only live for a year.
Aerial: They die in their nests?
Azmera: Never seen a dead swift. Nobody knows where swifts die.

Like the cleaning of a swift nest to prepare for sale, Aerial reveals the surprises of swifts asking a what, a where, a how, a why and then a moral probe followed by Azmera’s justification. 


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