Freedom took off from the ground, and spread his luxurious wings that carried him up and over the air shafts. He soared over the city with its many crowded arteries of cars that moved like ants between hills. Through his eagle eye he saw the stark divisions between the luxurious homes with swimming pools and the shanty towns, but chose not to concern himself with these. He was up here, above it all, in the lofty skies where none of it mattered. Just as he thought these things, one of his large feathers loosened, and sailed away from him through the air. It irritated him to watch it drift with the self-will of peace, despite its apparent helplessness. He turned his attentions away, and reassured himself by rustling his ample plumage.
As Freedom flew over the open landscape, divided by colonies of trees huddled together between the encroaching farmlands, he noticed a farmer taking his produce to market in a cart. "Simpleton!" scoffed Freedom as he flew over the heavily laden cart on creaky wheels driven by a wizened farmer. Freedom turned a summersault in the air, just because he could, and the old man could not; and as he did, another of his largest feathers loosened, and sailed away from him on the air shafts. The farmer gave him a cursory look and then shook his head. "No matter," thought Freedom as he straightened himself out. "I can still do as I wish, in contrast to all of you below."
A flock of smaller birds desperately flapped their spartan wings as they flew past. They were not sufficiently endowed to enjoy flying, he thought, and then cawed: "Get out of the skies, losers! Maybe you should try swimming instead!" He guffawed, and taunted them by swooping over and under them, just because he could. In that very moment, several feathers loosened and sailed away from him like devious maidens on the air shafts. Quickly, he tried to level himself out, and felt the imbalance. So many feathers had loosened and fallen out, he could no longer fly straight.
He soared lower over a lake to avoid turbulence, and caught sight of his reflection in the water. It bothered him. His plumage looked decidedly scruffy and anaemic. All that he knew to do now was to caw more loudly: "I can do whatever I want. I am Freedom!" Without any feathers to hold him up, Freedom drowned in the lake, cawing those words.
In a tiny creek that flowed from the lake into the great river, the fine feathers drifted on the surface of the water from rock to rock. They were so light and silent that the water couldn't drown them. And even if it did, they wouldn't mind at all because they were free.
I saw you there on the bus, and felt an immediate affinity with you. Your head, wrapped in a black shroud that kept your hair hidden from me and emphasized your strong face, was slightly bowed. It was as though, if you lifted your sights you might be struck down. You adjusted the blanket over your child that was invisible to me in its pram. It slept peacefully because, like all mothers, you strive to be a good one despite your troubles.
The black cloth covered every limb, down to your shoes that continued the train of black. It hugged your hips, that, like mine, are over-sized for child-bearing. There I stood in my knee-length skirt with my ankles revealed and my hair blow-dried to show it off at its best, and yet we were the same by our hips that hugged the fabric.
I marched for you last weekend. Or was it you I marched for? I think it was for both of us. In fact, it was for myself. When the kings that govern tell me that you and I are just there for groping, I march. When they tell me that your hips and bold face are not the same as mine, I march. When they tell us that our wills and our souls mean nothing, I march.
I didn't expect to feel this way about you on the bus. My preconditioned mind sends the warning signals of a society brainwashed by killers. But neither you nor I are killers. It sends the signal that you have allowed yourself to be subjected to the will of men by accepting that shroud, and thereby have let me down. But that too is a myth. You struggle as I do to shake off the burden of centuries of exclusion and accusation - all because our bodies have the frightening power to perpetuate the human race. Kings have always feared the power of the womb.
I have seen you on the bus before with many different faces wrapped in a black shroud. Not until today did the connection between us touch me on the inside. Now you are there to stay.