The Songbird’s Silence, an original children’s story | FT

This Christmas the FT commissioned Booker Prize winner Ben Okri to write a children’s short story. The Songbird’s Silence is based on the very real issue of deforestation and endangered species, and the animated film is part of the FT Appeal for conservation charity the Zoological Society of London. Read more here:

The songbird silence a nearly true story not that long ago there was a forest where you could hear the birds singing the tigers growl in far away and the insects trade then human beings began to capture the creatures of the forest the creature they wanted most was a songbird because it’s song was so beautiful there was a little boy called dooba who loved listening

To the mysterious noises of the forest as he went to sleep at night he imagined the turtles tell him one another stories the birds in singing competitions the tigers talked him to the moon this helped him sleep well at night on dubas birthday his parents gave him a songbird it came in a big cage he was grateful for it he’d never had a pet before he grew very attached

To the songbird he was only really happy when it was singing but sometimes when the bird signed he was so moved that he would start crying and because of this dooba wanted to know what he was singing about he asked everyone he met if they knew his parents didn’t know the eldest couldn’t tell him either then one day he met a wise old woman oh wise woman do you know

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What the songbird is saying he asked that songbird is wiser than me said the wise woman why do you say that because it’s song made you ask many questions how can i find out what it’s saying since that bird is wiser than me you should ask it how i taught speak his language i won’t understand what it says how do you know i’ve tried ask the question in a different way

How you’ll know when the time comes i hope so you should listen in a different way to how should i do that you should listen with more than your years what else should i listen with them if not my ears perhaps said there’s a woman you should listen with your heart when du bois got home he forgot to listen to the birdsong because he was thinking about how he could

Listen with his heart that night tossing and turning he slept very badly he was aware that something that made his sleep lovely was missing he fell asleep just before dawn and he had a dream in his dream the songbird spoke to him do you want to know why my song is so beautiful yes do you want to know what i’m singing about yes no one could tell me i’m the only one

Who can tell you but you had to ask the right question you had to listen with your heart did i ask the right question yes how you asked it with your soul you asked it from the part of you that really cared but what’s the answer have you noticed anything different about the world no what what’s different have you noticed that something is missing yes but i don’t

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Know what it is no one does what is it the forest is silent is it why because people have been treating the animals and birds badly do they yes take me for example do you think i’m happy you must be your songs are so beautiful that’s because i’m unhappy my songs are telling of the terrible things people are doing to the forest to pangalanes the beautiful birds the

Tigers because people are not protecting them the forest is silent really yes the forest is dying what can i do listen with your heart i like having you as a pet i know but i don’t like being a pet i’m made to be free my song is beautiful in your cage but you should hear me sing when i am free what’s it like then it’s as if all nature is singing the sea the sky the

Trees the majestic creatures is as if god is singing through me my song when i’m free is a million times richer than my song in a cage the only song i sing in a cage is a song of tears the song of the silent forest i’m so sorry if you’re really sorry you do something for me what’s that wake up dubai woke up suddenly it was still dark he listened it was true the

Forest was still on silent he didn’t hear the tigers or the insect noises he went to the cage the songbird was silent nothing he did would make the songbird sing then he realized that the songbird would not sing anymore he woke up his mother and father they were surprised that he was waking him up mum and dad he said we have done the songbird a terrible wrong we

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Have taken it from his home in the forest and now it will not sing because of the songbird the forest is silent have you not noticed his mother and father listened you’re right they said the forest is silent how is it we never noticed we have to help her forest live again said the boy first we must carefully return the songbird to its home then we must protect the

Creatures of the world or one day we too will fall silent how do you know these things master father i just started to listen he said with my heart

Transcribed from video
The Songbird's Silence, an original children's story | FT By Financial Times

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