I stay in a lovely little apartment in Koramangala, Bengaluru. We have a teeny weeny balcony, not big enough for us to sit around and sip coffee in the evenings but big enough for our plants to strut their earthy beauty. Our balcony has some other visitors too. Indian hindus and in many other cultures people call them bad omens, messengers of death or even death itself. The cunning looking, not so pretty – crows.
Every day I see my roommate make an extra chapati for these fellows who come caw-cawing to the balcony and even on our kitchen window sill. She gives them chapatis, egg yellows, bread, biscuits et al. Seeing her it has kind of become a habit with me too. I don’t make anything specially for them but I share with them what I make and they munch away whatever I share gayly. They still don’t trust me too much and I do shooo them away when they make too much noise but I don’t mind them sitting around and watching me cook. 🙂
My roommate told me a little story about these little fellows that happened less than a year back. Back then, it was another girl and my current roomate in the house. The cawing fellows used to come, like they do now. To watch them cook. To nibble at the things the girls leave around. That day, one of the mothers was visiting the house and it was she was was cooking in the kitchen. The fellows came hopping around and one of them sat at the window sill. Swaaaat….!
A stick came down on the sorry fellow and before his instincts could tip him to take off, his wings were hit and slightly chipped! His feathers broke and floated down abandoned from his body. He managed to fly away before more damage came his way and didn’t return for a while. In fact none of them returned for a while.
Scared. Not able to trust again. Possibly.
The mother, a simple lady from a town near Vizag told my roommate, “Crows…very bad. They are dead people. You should not make habit and give them food. They will come again and again. Bad omen. Bring bad luck”
My roommate told me, “Reshmy, I feed them everyday. And she hit it. Broke it’s wing. I think he didn’t fly away before he was hit because his instincts has trained him to trust the person who stands and cooks there.” She said, “They didn’t come and eat the food that I kept for them for many many days. How can people hurt other living beings? How can they be like that?”
Yes, how can humans the most intelligent and emotional of God’s known creation behave like that? Be so ruthless and non compassionate. I say maybe because humans are animals and the society which was initially made to civilise him has made him more of that. The psychology of fear is what the human society works on. In this case too. The simple mind of the lady was scared that the bird will bring bad luck to her daughter and she did what the society had trained her to do.
Crows are scavenger birds. Their job in nature is to clear away the dead. They do so by eating them. So do we humans. We just marinate and grill the dead before eating them. The crows just use their beaks and we use the sophisticated fork and knife. Crows don’t eat their own, some humans even do that. Humans haven’t been assigned the scavenger duties but we still eat others animals when they are dead. In fact we kill them so we can eat them. We become death. So humans too are bad omen? Messengers of death? Or should the crows just train themselves to eat in a sophisticated manner to rid themselves of their ill-fame?
Imagine what would our streets look like with dead squerills, pigeons, rats, cats, dogs etc. Littered. Rotting around. Actually we do this to our fellow human beings also. The kacharey valey. Yeah, the people who come to collect garbage from our homes. They come to clean our house and surroundings off the filth that we manage to generate everyday in our process of living the good life. But they are the ones who we will not call for any good ocassion. They aren’t even allowed to touch anything that is supposedly auspicious. In some homes we won’t even allow them to sit where the family sits. We have seperate places for them to sit, seperate plate for them to eat from and a seperate cup that we give them tea in. We want to earn the good karma of giving food to an under privileged but we don’t want to consider them an equal. Or even human. Our dog has a seperate plate to eat in, so does our maid. Same like we won’t mind walking half a kilometre to throw seeds to pigeons (that’s so DDLJ-ish and so lovely!) But we won’t allow a crow to even sit on our window sill.
The truth is we humans are too ill informed and scared to hell about consequences.
The truth is we as a society have formed so many barriers amidst ourselves in the name of caste and social status that we haven’t remained true to ourselves. The animal Kingdom is still so true to themselves and their instincts.
The truth is we have lost ourselves somewhere.
The truth is death comes not because a crow is cawing at your window, it caws because it can see death coming. So can we humans sense it coming only if we remain true to our instincts.
We await just this prespective change. Of being more practical and less scared. And thus being less superstitious. That day we will see a crow as a bird and a kachra vala as a human.
We’ll see their true self when we are able to see ours! Not as beings filled with false superiority complex of our castes, jobs and genetics but a being destined to co-exist with others on planet earth. That’s the day we earn our due as the best of God’s known creation.