February 21, 2015
“Kiwi Bunny! The birds within They who do not Grieve”
In Sia Figiel’s Book 2, Alofa-Tausi makes the link between grief, the mind, and metaphorical birds. “For that is what the moa is. It is universe of its own lives within us. A universe of colorful birds that die only when we neglect them. That is, when we don’t feed them the food they are used to” (Figiel 136). According to the protagonist, Moa or Mau means a universe inside of an individual. Considering Mau was official name associated with the movement for Samoan independence from colonial rule during the early 1900s, this understanding of a petite universe with independence and agency within another universe is logical. In Samoan, Mau denotes 'firm strength'. For this universe to exist, it must have stability to endure but also the flexibility to adapt within the self. (Para http://www.nzhistory.net.) The bird imagery points to this physical manifestation of Moa. The “universe of birds” seems to point out that each individual bird hold essential components of a whole being within them and needs to be in emotional solidarity as a flock not in extreme solitude or they will die.
Each color of the birds seems to be associated with an emotion meaning the red birds that haunt the protagonist are grief manifested; while as, black birds appear to be despair or hope regained manifested. “Rivers of despair that spiraled endlessly towards the birthplace of joy and sorrow- the moa. Drowning joy so that I would hear nothing but the black birds’ winds flapping, screeching through the endless insomniac nights” (Figiel 160). The bird’s universe is that of the emotional human mind, which is essential to the human protagonist as a whole. The protagonist shows great maturity in recognizing the birds are a natural part of her opposed to demons that haunt and torment her. I did not have maturity to make peace with my birds. In particular I wanted to rip my bird from my mind once and for all. This bird with a kiwi body and bunny ears that made me wail and drained to the core. My bird that stood screeching within me as I stood in funeral lines shaking hands with strangers and refusing to cry. There were 5 relatives in one month perished, 2 to cancer, 1 to pancreas exploding, and 3 to texting and driving. From dust to dust, I breathed it in daily suffocating what on the therapist telling me, “People die all the time?”, the counselors telling me, “Maybe you have an eating disorder…. join grief group”, and my roommates telling me, “I liked you before you became retarded”. There were 17 days without sleep; 31 days without food, and eventually too many days to walk vertically anymore. On November 8th, my body went horizontal and succumbed to the birds. A looming bird, wailing the kiwi bunny, the flightless bird was now skeleton of all my futile attempts of getting through grief without utilizing it. My bird of fear both once my enemy. In my bed in December under medical cares, I realized Kiwi Bunny was and always was my ally.
Alofa-Tausi speaks of, “A universe of colorful birds that die only when we neglect them. That is, when we don’t feed them the food they are used to” (Figiel136). Through therapy, rest, and conversations with myself, I feed the starved bird love, acceptance, and a voice to listen and hear its cries. By not listening to it, I let it starve and as an extension of myself. I starved as a warning of my soul’s decaying if I did not grieve properly. The bird was looking after me even at the cost of itself own life. Kiwi Bunny is my anxiety, which is a part of who I am. My bird is a natural reaction to unnatural chaos of loss and grief, which does not run on the timeline of deadlines, midterms, or job expectancy. It was always there and appears during short periods. I did everything in my power through self-improvement, body language, rationalizing, and ousting spiritually what I thought was unnatural threat to my life as normal person. If I had kept rejecting my bird, then it would be like me cutting off my lung. My emotions and birds are not cancer meant to be cut from me. They are my body and mind’s way of defending itself. Through patience and collaboration, the Kiwi Bunny and I became a team. The bird of fear gave me caution through insomnia, rumination, and sometimes fits of paranoia of being abandoned. I politely answer back and thank it for the warnings but I tell it I can rationally walk through the situation with you by my side. Then the bird calms down, sleep comes eventually, the thoughts stop racing, and the abandoned bird is reminded we never shall be parted because we are two universes in one. When the Kiwi Bunny does not let me eat or sleep, it is because it is trying to tell me something essential. Instead of fighting myself and blaming it, I listen even late at 3:00 AM. It screeches, then sings then whispers and cries itself to sleep alongside me. Acceptance of my emotion of fear, rush of cortisol hormone, and the feigned stages of death is what makes my universes overlap not collide. “Drowning joy so that I would hear nothing but the black birds’ winds flapping, screeching through the endless insomniac nights” (160). Acceptance is a song of pain and joy at a intense pitch, but like Alofa-Tausi if you listen the sounds of the birds’ universe, then the tiny wings can guide you to transform their universe as well as your own.
Figiel, Sia. They Who Do Not Grieve. New York: Kaya, 2003. Print.
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/politics/samoa/rise-of-mau. Accessed 21 February 2015. Web.