Ahmed Soulaïman, a Siberian Tartar, told the Story of the Sparrow to Vasily Michailovitch Tolmatchoff who spent twenty years in a Siberian Gulag, Tolmatchoff told the story to Tiberiù Péskuy of Romania who spent seven years in jail where he met Mircea Cãrtãrescu who also spent seven years in jail for having written subversive poetry, and while in jail Tiberiù told Mircea the Story of the Sparrow, in turn Mircea after he got out of jail told that story to Gezim Hadaj of Albania who after having been tortured and condemned to death for refusing to kiss the feet of the President of Albania managed to escape to Romania and there met Mircea who told him the Story of the Sparrow in a Bucharest café where they met and exchanged stories, eventually after wandering for eight years Gezim ended up in Czecoslovakia where one of his cousins had also escaped, and there in Prague Gezim told his cousin Péter the Story of the Sparrow who then told it to his best friend Ivo Hlavizna, a young dissident who had almost been killed by a Russian tank when the Russian tanks rolled into Prague, Ivo met Maciej Swierkocki from Lód on a train traveling from Prague to Warsaw where both of them were going to attend a conference on Ways to Improve Your Life in the Socialist World, and Ivo told Maciej the Story of the Sparrow, and during the conference Maciej then told the story to Jerzy Patkowski, a friend he had not seen in years because Jerzy had been in jail for twelve years for reasons unknown to him, and when Jerzy, whom everybody called Jurek, got back home to Krakov he told the story to Andreij Slominski who during World War Two helped Jews escape from the death camps, and Andreij told the story to Namredef X, a survivor of Auschwitz, who many years later told me the Story of the Sparrow, and now Dear Reader, I will tell you that story, and perhaps after you've heard it you too may want to tell it to a friend, or even to an enemy.


On a beautiful winter day in Siberia, encouraged by the warm rays of the sun in a clear blue sky, a little sparrow left the security of his nest to fly and frolic in the air, but the 40o below zero temperature quickly overcame the imprudent bird who fell to the ground, frozen, and found himself buried in the snow where he would certainly have died in an instant. But by chance a cow trotted by at that moment, and at the very spot where the sparrow was struggling for his last breath, she dropped a large soft cow-dung on top of the bird. The warmth of this dung-bath resuscitated the moribund sparrow. He was so happy, he raised his head out of the cow-shit and started to twitter joyfully, which drew the attention of a wandering homeless cat who delicately pulled the sparrow out of the shit and devoured him.

The moral of this story: Your enemy is not necessarily the one who shits on your head. Your friend, however, is not necessarily the one who pulls you out of the shit. And besides, one should never twitter when one is buried in shit.


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