I live in a cage, and I have lived in it for a long time. How long? I don’t know. My memory is, as you know, not much to boast about. But that doesn’t mean that I am an idiot. I understand more than you think.
But it is obvious that you like to laugh at me when you make me repeat all those ridiculous words and phrases that you say to me. And when you have finished laughing, you claim that I am stupid because you are convinced that I can’t think up anything of my own.
But all the same, I have always liked it in my cage. I have been given food, and one ought to be grateful for that. But there are also other things that I have appreciated. And in the first instance I mean the pleasure I have had of being able to hear all the conversations that have been carried out around the fancy
dining table.And they weren’t just any old conversations. Because I live in the home of a learned person, somebody who knows a lot.
As I have said, there are a lot of conversations that are carried on here in the house. And there have been many people who have come to visit. They have sat for hours and talked and argued about all manner of things. And that is good. Isn’t it? Just think how much I have been able to learn. I ought to be a happy
parrot. Surely I ought to be?
I readily admit that it has been a delight to listen to the conversations that have been carried out. A true delight. But no longer. You see, over time I have become all the more disturbed by these conversations. Indeed, in the end they became really intolerable.
Perhaps you are wondering: What do you mean by that, parrot?
There are three differences between me and you. The first is that I am sitting in a cage, and you are not. I will never be able to fly outside my cage. But you, on the other hand, can go where you want, because there is no fence that shuts you in.
The second difference is that I know that I am sitting in a cage. There is no doubt about that. But you, on the other hand, remain unaware of the cage that you yourselves are sitting in, the cage inside your heads. When you read this, you will certainly give a start as if you had been insulted. Yes, insulted in the same way that
you insult me every time you laugh at me when I repeat all your little witticisms.
The third difference is that I can refrain from repeating everything you say. Instead, inside my cage, when I want to, I can think new thoughts, thoughts that wouldn’t always please you if you got to hear them. But you, you can’t think any new
thoughts. Because all day long you simply repeat what you hear and read. Even the man in whose house I live, and who knows a tremendous amount, repeats everything he reads. Yes he does, without being aware of it. He repeats and repeats, so that he almost turns blue in the face.
Now you understand why I can’t stick this. All of you just repeat yourselves. And why do you do that? I’ll tell you, it is because you can’t do anything else, when you sit there in your cage.
MELKER GARAY (born in Tocopilla, Chile), is a Swedish author. Born to a Swedish father and Chilean mother, the family moved from Chile to Sweden in 1970, just prior to the Chilean Revolution in 1973. His writing revolves around theological, existential and philosophical topics. Garay debuted in 2008 with his novel The Verger (published by Norlén & Slottner). The Verger has been translated into several languages. In 2009, he became a member of the Swedish Writers' Union, and in 2012, he was elected as member of Svenska PEN, the Swedish link to the International PEN literary organisation. In 2014, Garay was elected to the Chilean Writers' Society. (Parrot painting on this page is also by Melker Garay)