Brave beings

There is an animal that comes to mind whenever the word Brave appears. It is the magpie.

I remember in Uni, when there would be posters everywhere reminding us “Magpies are swooping” with safety precautions of what to be watchful of. It was always a scary risky time, and I would carry an umbrella to ward them off (i.e. FIGHT!), sometimes even tempted to wear a helmet as I walk around campus or anywhere else (think: sillybilly scaredycat asian girl).

It happened to be the time we had to go for site visits. PLUS, I had to cross a huge park from the train station to get to my workplace. From the P.o.V. of urban planning, it was a tiny park, a small pocket of green breathing space. But from the P.o.V. of an innocent bypasser vulnerably treading across the homeground of a breeding magpie family, it has helluva humongous ocean to cross. I was always undecided whether to dash across (which might be provoking to them?) or to tread daintily and pretend to be invisible (which obviously does not work). I would always give myself an invisible pat on the back for bravely surviving the distance, and likely, attacks too.

One day, we had a studio visit to a site in the suburbs, and a classmate was attacked by Mother Magpie. She was holding a camera and taking pics, and caught it on film! The blurry wings of an attacker, not sure if it was clumsy or swift, or who was clumsy who was swift. She presented this photo, titled Brave. We congratulated her on her survival and her bravery. Then a tutor quipped, “have you considered that the brave one is in fact the mother magpie defending her children?”

Dang. Were we young or were we self-centred? It did not occur to me at all until his rhetorical question. Mother Magpie had to take on the whole bunch of us humans way bigger than her size! I could adamantly insist that it was her own insecurity about the safety of her children, not like we would even bother with them if we need not bother about her attacks. But then again, this does not negate her maternal instinct of self-sacrifice in protecting the safety of her offsprings.

Do you know that a group of magpies is called Parliament? We learn something new everyday!

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