Not A Crowd Pleaser
Where there is will, there is a way. The crow carries rocks to make the water level accessible for itself and when it gets to quench its thirst, we all learn our first primary school lesson in moral value-- a subject that probably came by because someone informed the authorities that immorality in the world is off the charts. It’s beautiful how the lessons chosen to teach us moral values primarily kept animals as protagonists because again, humans over the years have accelerated crimes and wars and dishonesty and we’ve made a lot of boo boos to be considered a morally reliable species. No wonder that instead of people like Steve Jobs or Gandhi, a crow becomes the poster boy for determination in elementary school education.
Crows stay with us through our formal education processes: sometimes we learn about them in biology class and sometimes we feed them the unwanted chapatis from our lunch box in school playgrounds. Corvus is the scientific name for crow, an evolutionarily intelligent and empathetic bird. There are so many sub species in the Crow family. Like rooks or different species of crows that dawn different patches of black across their avian bodies. Like the raven--Edgar Allen Poe’s favourite motif in storytelling.
Much like Edgar Allen Poe, women from your family will tell you how crows are harbingers of death since they are yamaraj ka doot (the Hindu god of death's agent). During hindu funeral rites, it is made sure that crows are properly fed so as to satisfy The Death Agent and avoid more mortal bad news in the family. Despite being an absolute sweetheart and taking care of cuckoo’s eggs in its own nest, crows have always had a bad reputation. Apparently, they bring bad luck.
Humans are anthropocentric in a million ways. However, we do turn to animals to find hints of morality, which we personally shrug off with our homogenised God-complex but slyly pass it on to children. We look for traces of evolution in animals and birds, we try to decipher our own rudiments and history through nature, something that we proudly claim to ruin and/or protect as if it’s a consolation to the guilt of murdering the Earth.
But secretly, we are aware of the ways we imitate them because the moment we accept it, we fail to tame them. The truth is we can’t tame a crow, we can take its very benign traits like scavenging and attach a moral derogation to that term and criminalise the word ‘scavengers'. We can sing songs of 'kala kauva' and attribute it's black colour to its heart. But we cannot alter the nature.
On evenings, crows will perch on the balcony sipping water from the earthen vessel that your mother put out for birds, sparing our cawing guests the trouble of collecting stones and rocks like it did in our 1st grade textbooks. Ironically, their cawing becomes a part of a homely memory and an insult for people with sharp voices.
उड़ते जो झंझावतों में,
पीते जो वारि प्रपातो में,
सारा आकाश अयन जिनका,
विषधर भुजंग भोजन जिनका,
वे ही फानिबंध छुड़ाते हैं,
धरती का हृदय जुड़ाते हैं.
- रामधारी सिंह 'दिनकर'