By: Azizah Manzur
This is the story of how I got lost, and how my friend Ibon helped me find my way. This is the story of how he saved my life.
I was on a plane ride to New York. I’d finally gotten the chance to take a vacation after my busy year. It was my plane. I couldn’t stand travelling with airlines anymore because my fear of heights always got the best of me. It was only me, the pilots and two flight attendants. I was pretty content, up until the turbulence. All I remember was screaming—screaming at the attendant, screaming at the pilots, and at last, screaming for my life
We ended up in the middle of nowhere. Well, I did. I was the only survivor. I never really understood why I was the only one. When I woke up to the wreckage, seeing smoke and flames everywhere, I screamed again. That was all I did for the first few hours. I just screamed. My screams didn’t even make any sense, really. I was just hoping for some sign that I wasn’t alone, I guess. Maybe one of the pilots would scream back at me, or maybe some people nearby would hear me. Help didn’t come. . I screamed myself raw, until my voice ran out. When there was nothing left, I just sat on the ground. I just sat there for hours, saying nothing and doing nothing.
I finally realized that no one would come. I did what any normal person in my situation would do: I checked myself. I got my phone out, but it was damaged beyond repair. I checked for injuries and wounds, but I was completely fine. Next, I surveyed my surroundings. I was definitely in the middle of nowhere. Just a vast expanse of land, with a few patches of grass here and there. It looked like death, to be honest. I remember thinking about how lucky the pilots and the attendants were. They got instant death. I had to see and feel myself die. I thought about ending it then and there, but then I saw this little bird. All the movies about survival flashed in my head and all I could think of was “Lunch!” I didn’t eat it, though. I looked at it. It landed on something in the wreckage. I went over and saw that it landed on a box. The box was full of water. I almost hugged the bird, if I didn’t think it would die if I did. When I realized that there could be food and supplies in that burning heap of metal, I searched. I found my briefcase, a life-jacket, a bottle of champagne and a lot of those little packets of peanuts. I searched for something that could I could use to find help, any means of communication, but all I found was a flash gun. I took it anyway. It was almost dark, after I searched everything. I looked for the bird again, but it flew to the west. I stacked up on supplies and I followed it.
I kept walking for hours, until it was so dark that I couldn’t see any hand in front of my face. I decided to get some rest. I as lay down, I looked up at the sky. I had never seen it that way, so full of stars. The moon shone bright. I stared at it until I fell asleep. I don’t know how long it was until I heard the howling. I woke with a start, grabbed my things and stumbled my way to where I saw the bird fly. I was tired and dehydrated, but I kept walking until the sun rose. Then I blacked out.
I only woke up when I felt something land on my chest. I opened my eyes and saw the little bird there. The same little bird that lead me to the water. I raised my hand to pet it, but it flew a few feet away. I remember the little packets of nuts. I got some out and offered them to the bird. It seemed hesitant but soon enough, it flew on my hand and ate the nuts.
“I’m gonna call you Ibon.” I said. Ibon is a tagalong word for bird. I guess I was feeling a little homesick at the time. “So, Ibon, are you gonna help me? Are you gonna show me the way out of this, little buddy?” I was talking to a bird. I thought I was going crazy. Ibon flew out of my hand and lead me straight. I was starving and dying, but I trusted that bird with my life. It was the best decision I ever made.
For what felt like days, I was just walking. Walking to where a little bird led me. I continued to feed it, and I even talked to it sometimes. I told it about how my life was back in my country, how I missed my mother’s cooking, and how I had a crush on this woman that worked for my company. I guess I was hallucinating by this time, but I could’ve sworn Ibon was listening. It saved my life too, a couple of times. It would peck me if a coyote was anywhere near me or when I was in any sort of danger. I swear it even tweeted in irritation if I was walking too slowly.
One morning, I saw something on the horizon. Ibon started tweeting like crazy and flew faster. I ran too. I ran as fast as I could, which wasn’t really fast at all, judging by my lack of nourishment. I ran for my life, until we reached the road. I fell on my knees and wasted the few remaining drops of water in my body by crying. It was a few hours before a car passed. Ibon stayed with me the entire time. A lovely American couple brought me to the hospital. I stayed there for weeks before I could be cleared to go. My mother flew there to accompany me. She brought me some of her cooking, and I laughed for what seemed like ages.
For the first time in years, I went to the airport. I bought a ticket for my mother and I back to the Philippines. I sat at the window seat and looked out as the plane started to fly. The funny thing is I wasn’t even scared anymore. I was happy. I was so happy I could cry. As the plane steadied, I saw something at the corner of my eye. It was a little bird, flying right next to the plane. That was the last time I ever saw Ibon. But, everyday, I leave a bowl of those little packets of nuts in the little birdhouse I built.