Zia Hassan

As Time Goes By For A Bird

When I was 12, my parents got an African grey parrot.

At first, we just wanted Coco to talk, because that is what we understood parrots do.

So we talked to him, sang to him, whistled to him. At first he just squawked a lot, but after some time, he developed a repertoire of sounds.

My dad farting, the sound of someone peeing, and eventually “here Coco bird, I love you.”

We bought him in Egypt and my sister and I were middle schoolers. He moved with us back to the states in 1999 (after a huge battle to get him out of Egypt). We call him a him because we never got genetic testing done to determine his sex. We just assume.

He’s seen me grow from age 12 to nearly 34, from the same vantage point mostly. Though there was this one time I came home from school to find him missing from his cage. He had somehow flown inside our piano. I still have no idea how.

My mom has sung him an adapted version of Goodnight Irene for about 20 years now. He can whistle the tune, and often does right before bed.

My dad used to whistle As Time Goes By. Coco still whistles this tune, constantly.

You must remember this:
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

It’s fitting. As an African Grey, he has many more years ahead of him. Many more years of, well, this.

He never goes out. Never goes for a walk. He just sits on his perch, in the corner of our living room, whistling and watching… as time goes by.