Keep being as patient as vultures or Udene in Igbo!

I saw a vulture up close today. It is as menacing as literature has depicted it to be. My middle son actually saw it first. It was perched on our grounds and it stopped him in his tracks while running towards me. He kept saying I can’t come and I kept saying, just come. He managed to mutter that there is a giant bird on the ground. I ran over and sure enough the giant bird flew up to the tree by the side of our home. I tried to go close and the picture below is what I could take.

Vulture by our home!
Kids and I running close to the tree!

It doesn’t do enough justice. This bird is not only a giant among birds. But it’s perch is regal too. It looked at us unfazed and it wasn’t until we tried to get to close that it flew away. That’s when I saw it brilliance up close too. This bird is truly majestic. Every circle it took, was breathtaking. Every flight, fertile with faith. Not like the drizzle of a despondent dawn Achebe alludes to. But more like the rise of resolute rewards truly within reach. (The skies were crystal blue, so it can only mean rewards). Seeing this bird, felt like I was seeing a premonition of sorts. For every stride it took, was quite simply spell-bounding. I was mesmerized. I stood there for 1-2 minutes just watching the bird as it flew higher and higher into the sky. Every elevation, equally extraordinary.

Mama was gardening at the back of the house and I told her I just saw a giant bird. She saw it too and called it udene, which means vulture in Igbo. She also noted that it symbolizes bad luck. I said what, then why is it flying by our house. She noted not necessarily bad luck to us, but that it must be sensing something amiss around, like the carcass of something dead and it waiting patiently to perch low to grab it’s reward (I was right afterall). We never saw the bird again and so it’s hard to fathom whether it got what it wanted.

The researcher in me searched the literature to get a better sense of the bird alongside what our mama just told me. Sure enough the symbolisms of the bird are just as vast. Not only is a vulture known for its resourcefulness, but it’s also the most patient bird you will come across. They are the kings of finding things useful to them and when they do, even when it’s within their reach, the patiently wait for the right moment to grab their reward. That’s when it dawned on me. In life, seek things that will be useful to you and even when they seem within reach, still patiently wait for the right moment to take them. For what belongs to you will never pass you by. It’s an Igbo proverb too.

That and if no vulture is seen after an offering has been made to the gods, then something serious must have happened in the land of the spirits. The vulture is also a courier. According to my cherished Enuani book of proverbs, the vulture is expected to descend and carry the sacrifice to the spirits to whom the offering has been made. This August visitor by our home today can only mean that maybe all our sacrifices are not in vain and that even as things seem close, we must still patiently wait. It’s a tough one to understand as I know that being patient can be difficult for me but I’m listening. Thank you for the message and I’ll keep working on being as patient with my life dreams as the vulture. Keeping this here too for the right moment when this all makes sense.

From Enuani Maxims and Proverbs.

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