The sun is not visible today, but it’s heat can still be felt. I stand on my balcony, looking at the traffic at the junction.
My attention is diverted by a streak of bright yellow that is flitting between the branches of a tree. I realize that it is a beautiful oriole, busily going about his day. I keep watching the oriole for a while. My attention is then drawn to the pigeons – sitting on ledges, swooping down, taking a breather. There are so many of them.
Then I begin to wonder. There is not a crow in sight. In fact, I haven’t seen one in the neighbourhood in a long, long time.
I keep seeing mynas, sparrows, parrots and hornbills, but never a crow.
And suddenly I feel nostalgic. Nostalgic for my childhood, where the crow formed an integral part of our lives.
Image courtesy – Wikipedia
Where the crow featured as the hero in many of the stories told to us by our grandmom and aunts – intelligent in some stories, foolish in some stories, thirsty and intelligent in some others. But the crow’s presence in our lives could never be ignored.
Babies were fooled into swallowing uninterestimg vegetables and yummy rasam rice, when a crow swooped into their yards. Babies were mesmerised by this bird, whose caws in the gentle afternoon breeze sounded like lullabies.
When we were growing up, most Indian women would put out some cooked rice for the crows, on their window ledges or terraces, before serving food to the family.
The crows were so used to this that they would show up at the prescribed window ledge or terrace at the appointed hour. And, if for some reason there was a delay in the arrival of their food, the crows would caw loudly, causing the woman of the house to hurry up!
My aunt had names for the crows that visited her window ledge, and would talk to them everyday, and affectionately chide them if they cawed too loudly.
Such was the role that crows played in our childhood. The crow was truly one of our childhood heroes.