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Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Thirsty Crow and Other Tales of Wisdom

Soon after we moved into the house we live in at present, my mother put out a wide, shallow earthen bowl in the yard, to provide the birds in the vicinity with fresh water to drink. She also began to provide them with a regular supply of bajra seeds, along with left-over pieces of chapatti. The seeds had to be replenished every day, while the pieces of bread often did not have to be.

One day, I saw a crow pick up a rather dry piece of chapatti in its beak. However, instead of flying away with it thereafter, it hopped over to the bowl of water and dropped the piece in. After having turned it around in the water for a while, so as to soak it well, the crow took off. By the time it returned, the chapatti appeared to have softened quite a bit and the bird proceeded to consume it.

Since then, I have become quite convinced that the story about a thirsty crow must have been based more on fact than fiction.

By the by, the bird in question has become great friends with my mother and she now sets an entire chapatti aside for it every day, while preparing lunch for the family. If she forgets, the crow spots her whenever she steps outside, perches itself on an electrical wire overhead and protests loudly until fed. At times, it even sits on the boundary wall, facing the house, and crows until its daily quota of the unleavened bread is served. In fact, the menu has now been expanded to include biscuits, fruits, and pakoras.

Once, when it was raising such a ruckus, I stepped out to ask what was wrong, since there already was some 'food on the table'. The crow picked up each piece, one by one, and threw it down as if to say, "Do you think I am going to eat this? Hurry along now and get us some fresh ones!"

Its sense of 'ownership' has become so strong that it admonishes us strongly if we try to feed a stray cow or dog, regardless of whether or not it has had lunch.