THERE, he sat gawking at that piece of Vada, precariously hanging over the tin sheet,used to shut the trough of fish. The trough had a unique breed of fish just below the stunted mango tree, productive once in two years. Oh - the piece of vada was hurled over by Mansa when she sat there at the crook of the firm branch of the Mango tree.The tree-- A witness to a romantic interlude between him and his consort. Both the crows- Bondhu and Bindu were dedicated to each other, "Where is she?"
She has flown to a different land of lures, lusts and pampering benefactors. Once while crossing the bountiful orchard of Minu, she beckoned him quite flippantly. Bindu was her name. Whenever she could feed her mate she lured him with a mouthful of eats.Now he is sad and solemnly blinks his eyes as if pretending to look amused or distracted. But have these birds been like soul mates?
The 'vada' kept tottering everytime the wind blew and almost fell into the trough. O what a feast for the fish it would be if it fell in the trough. Bindu's mate was Bondhu, a crow but a civilised one at that. He was proud of his breed and kept his hobby alive in his habitat but could not decipher his mate's habits.Is the crow a domestic bird who was prone only to scavenging. Bhondu kept hovering around a few houses to sustain itself but could not do without Bindu. The orchard proved a small world for Bindu.
The day -'that day' was memorable for Bondhu, he looked so forlorn when Bindu flew away. One day the crow panchayat declared Bindu to be a flirt and a whore. She was deemed to leave the orchard as there was no more domesticity left in her. Bondhu waited for her everytime he received his share of food. Today, the vada kept testing his patience, will Bindu come? All of a sudden there was a whirring sound. A flock of bl ack flamingos flew past - Bindu was at the tail end. She kept flying zig zag. Her movement preplexed Bondhu. Yes it was Bindu, she had then got entangled in mesh of electric wires. She was stung by her 'killer', the electric current that flung her in front of Bondhu almost dead. Alas,she is bidding farewell again. Bondhu flew and sat by her listening to her parting heart beats. She left, Bondhu flew to the tin sheet and perched with a bang the vada fell into the trough. The fish swam and nibbled it with glee. Bondhu flew to another land.
Reverence that connects souls
The earlier mushy-mushy love story is not an appetiser for Valentine's Day but to explain the signficance of togetherness of this species of birds - The crow and its relevance to man is believed to satiate souls (dead persons). Most hindu families revere the crow on a death anniversary. The food to feed the crow is prepared alongside the chanting the slokas that could / should appease the dead person. Just to say how sad we are, you be happy in heaven, we will pray for your soul etc.
The earlier story does not feature in the 'puranas' (religious books) but here we can draw an imagingary tangent that connects man with the crow. Some English poets also mention about the raven ( E.A. Poe) that represents a departed soul.
Why a crow?
The crow scavenges over filth and dead meat - how can a human soul reside in a crow? The bolder of the lot will even perch on your window sill to warn you that a guest will arrive. We have instances of such warnings in almost all Indian languages. It is a noisy bird, very distracted and an opportunist but will fall prey to a fox who feigns to be a music critic and taps the crow's musical talent, thereby trapping the crow for a piece of cheese.
Black beauty in concert
Black satin-like feathers, roving eyes, an irritating baritone and a long beak to scoop out the best of food or filth. We have seen caged birds of the other species but nobody even wants to cage a crow. All because they are a part of our domestic life closer to earth but they are always (I feel) above cats and dogs or squirrels. Is it the colour or its restless mannerism that alienates the crow from other domestic creatures? But it is another of nature's creations and revere we must the crow that caws, sounds better that the cock that crows.