Once Niko thought that Vano was a bird, and he himself was a hunter…
Vano worried and thought: ‘What shall I do? I’m not a bird, I’m Vano.’ But Niko didn’t believe him. He bought a double-barreled gun and started staring at the sky. He was on the lookout, so that he could kill Vano when he flew up. But the sky was empty.
Vano was afraid of actually turning into a bird and flying up. He stuffed his pockets full of stones so he wouldn’t fly up; he avoided looking at the swallow so he wouldn’t learn to fly; he didn’t stare at the sky so he wouldn’t want to fly up.
‘Niko,’ Vano said to Niko, ‘throw away that gun and stop staring at the sky. I’m not a bird, I’m Vano…’
‘You’re a bird and that’s it! You’ll fly up and I’ll shoot you. I’m a hunter!’
‘Niko,’ Vano said to Niko, ‘how can I be a bird when I am Vano?’
‘Stop arguing,’ Niko got angry. ‘Stop annoying me, or I’ll shoot you even if you’re on the ground, as if you’ve just landed.’
Vano fell silent and walked away.
When he got home, Vano ate a big meal, attached a few more pockets to his clothes, stuffed them full of stones, and thought, ‘Perhaps Niko doesn’t know what a bird is; otherwise he wouldn’t make a bird out of me. I’ll go and explain everything to him and then I won’t need to eat as much or have as many pockets.’
Vano went over to Niko to explain what a bird was.
‘Niko,’ Vano began, ‘you don’t know what a bird is.’
‘Of course I do!’ Niko interrupted, ‘A bird has legs. You have legs!’
‘I have legs too…’ Vano was worried.
‘A bird has a body. You have a body too!’
‘I have a body too…’
‘A bird has eyes. You have eyes too!’
‘I have eyes too…’
‘So you’re a bird, then!’ Niko said triumphantly.
‘Yes, but I have no wings, have I?’
Niko started to think. Niko started to think and then shouted at Vano angrily, ‘Quiet! You’ll grow wings and will fly too…and if you won’t grow any wings, be certain that I will kill you on the ground like a wingless bird…’
Vano went home feeling worried. He was taking the stones out of his pockets and spreading them on the road like tears. And the tears were heavy as stones.
‘What shall I do?’ Vano thought while walking, spreading our the stones and crying. ‘What shall I do if I’m not a bird and can’t fly? What shall I do if Niko is a hunter and wants to kill me? What shall I do if it makes no difference whether I fly up or not…’
The sun was setting…
Vano looked up in the sky. Vano didn’t have stones in his pockets anymore and felt much lighter. Vano looked at the swallow and learned to fly. Vano looked up to the sky and wanted to fly…
‘If I’m a bird, it’s better to die up in the sky,’ he said and flew up.
The sky filled up. Niko aimed and shot. He shot and hit. He hit and dropped Vano.
‘Weren’t you saying you were not a bird?’ Niko cried.
The sky turned empty again.
The Man Who Lost His Self & Other Stories
The Story of a Man Who Handed His Will Over to the Wind
There was once a man who handed his will over to the wind.
The wind snatched it up like a feather and showed the ground to the will.
The wind made the will, being in a state of pleasure, heavy like hail, and smashed it against the ground.
At the bottom the will met a stone.
Sometimes the wind forges the will in fire; sometimes he gave it to the water. Sometimes he led it across a narrow bridge, and sometimes he put obstacles in front of it on a wide road.
Sometimes he delighted it with an encounter; sometimes he saddened it with a separation.
He mixed it in the rubbish that had been left by everyone.
He made it taste the sourness of injustice; he filled it with the sweetness of justice.
He frightened it with fear; he calmed it with calmness.
He indebted it with dreams, he made it settle its debts through daily labor.
He led it to sin, then calmed its soul with tears of regret and showed it purity.
He made it loath greed through wealth; he made it love generosity through poverty.
He dressed the desperately frozen will with hope and warmed it.
He cured with love its blisters of evil temptations.
Fallen through faithlessness, he revived it with faith.
In the end, during a drought, he turned it into a cloud and made it rain.
The Story of a Man Who Everyone Thought Didn’t Exist
There was a man who was to himself; and everyone thought he wasn’t there…
There was the sky and earth, there was brightness and darkness, there was the sun and the moon, there were stars…
And there was a man who was to himself…There was dusk and dawn, there was north and south, there was east and west, there was the second and the century, there was the near and far, there was right and left…
And there was a man who everyone thought didn’t exist, since he was to himself…
There was love and hate, there was loyalty and betrayal, there was hope and despair, there was sourness and sweetness, there was peace and anxiety…
And there was a man who was to himself, and everyone thought he didn’t exist…
There was justice and injustice, there was ruthlessness and mercy, there was the murdererd and the murderer, there was fullness and also emptiness … And all of us were right here…
And there was a man who was to himself and everything and each thing went through him, and his due place was held by the murdered and murderer, offended and offender, north and east, brightness and darkness, far and near, law and lawlessness, the sun, the moon, and the stars…
They would come in and find each other, debate and reconcile…And would calm down…
And, finally, death entered him and he obtained his due place…It was his alone…