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A Boy Is Not a Bird

“When countries are fighting,” my mother says, “there can be a lot of confusion. You can’t predict from one day to the next what will happen. Imagine a flock of birds sitting together quietly on a haystack, enjoying the fine weather. A dog runs up to them and begins to bark, and with a big squawk and a tangle of wings they all disperse, up, up in the sky, in different directions. The war is the barking dog. But the birds will eventually come together again, and everything will resume as before.”

My father nods. “Yes, exactly. And war is when you get a chance to be a hero. Because every day that you get through it, you’ve done something heroic.”


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