I don’t know how to begin telling this story. It’s a strange and mysterious tale, almost like a ghost story. But then again I wonder if there is such a thing as ghosts of birds and animals, or of humans, for that matter. I mean, one can’t be too sure about such things. But I do know that it’s just the kind of stuff people might like to put inside autobiographical books.
But let’s begin at the beginning. This incident happened a few months before I came away from Muscat.
I don’t know where it came from; it seemed to have materialized out of thin air. All I know is that one moment it wasn’t there and then in the next instant there it was, perched in a rather curious and unsure sort of way on the parapet wall of my penthouse apartment in Al Khuwair. It was close to sundown and twilight colours streaked across a November sky. Nowadays it’s possible to book online and later pick your new pet in person. But this kind of a ghostly bird! No, no, I don’t think so.
In the fading light, I thought the poor creature was a crow because of its dark colour. As I got closer, it was easy to see that it was a parrot because of its typical beak, its wide, google-eyed look and its shuffling, shifting, wobbly gait. Could this be an African Grey Parrot, I thought to myself, as I kept moving towards it, keen to get a closer look in the approaching darkness. It made no attempt at all to retreat or step back. I thought I noticed a strange, baleful look in its eyes; it could’ve been my imagination or the half light. I’m not sure now. I quickly stepped inside my bedroom and slid the French windows shut. I suppose reading books can give one a hyper imagination. But this really did happen.
The bird came forward and pressed its beak against the glass window, as though it wanted to say something. For some reason I couldn’t make myself open the window, so it shuffled away got onto the parapet wall, looked at me for half a minute and then just disappeared.