They do speak, sir, although not with words.
The unicorn sent her thoughts right into my head.
I understood her meaning.
L. E. Engler, The Forgotten Isle (2004)
Having been born into a Muslim family, I grew up without Christmas and Santa. Even though the birth place of St Nicholas is in my mother country, I didn't know about him until – well – until I came to my own; but then I was too old to expect him to ride his reindeer-pulled sleigh, slide down the chimneys, and leave presents for all the good girls and boys of the world. Even then, my virtues as a child would have been questionable to merit a visit by the jolly Père Noël.
Instead, my sisters and I grew up with a consummate, unshaken, invincible, unquestionable belief in The Bird – well past the age, when most kids turn into cynical rebels after finding out that Santa isn't real!
My parents, in their bottomless wisdom, had selected a better substitute who served year-round with its invisible omnipresence and spied on us to report back to them. We knew that we could do nothing the bird wouldn't know, although we never saw this bird nor felt it write our deeds on our foreheads with its invisible plume.
Thus our parents could leave me and my sisters, go out without a worry whether one of us (usually the same one) would attempt to sneak out, or bring over friends and turn the house upside down; injure ourselves, or cause a raucous in the neighbourhood. The bird also told them if we ever fibbed. Our words flashed like a neon sign- on and off- on our forehead only for Annecim to see and read.
Yet, our Bird was a benevolent bird. Its mission was not only to spy and tell; it was also to reward and encourage. It was the Bird that left a little Nestlé bar under the pillow when I woke up from a very unwanted nap during the eternal days of my early childhood. It was the Bird who inspired my middle sister to self-righteousness and inscribe our younger sister's misdemeanour on her forehead with a sharpened HB pencil, to make it easier for Mother to see. That only got her a punishment for trying to emulate the Bird, and taught us all a lesson that the Bird was inimitable and singular. Oh, and that only parents could see and knew what children did not.
I spent much time and effort to catch this elusive Bird and eventually gave up in favor of more worthwhile endeavours. When I became a mother, I summoned his wisdom in raising my son and daughter. My children, however, grew up not only with a Bird, but also with Santa.
Today, both are adults who understand fully well the importance of their growing up companions in their lives. We look back at those years with nostalgia and laughter and remember the tales we spun. Such tales bond our closeness and validate our unconditional love for each other.
My son and daughter have no children of their own yet. If and when they do, I have a feeling that, as thick as the guilt trips they've laid upon me for toying with their young minds, each will create the legend of The Bird, or their own version of something or other with exquisite powers. Those creatures will carry on a personal tradition and will not only teach priceless values, but also fire posterity's imagination, bond them to their ancestors, and color their world with magical, mystical tales, in which cultures greet each other and mankind celebrates its being.
Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2011