I love crows. I love that bird’s tenacity, survival skills, and sheer intelligence. I love the crow’s despicable nature, which is so human. I would happily wear a T-shirt with a crow featured on it.
I loved Edgar Allan Poe’s mesmerizing refrain of ‘nevermore’ in The Raven. For months now, I have been trying to spot a crow in Bangalore. Everyone knows what we did to the sparrows here. One of my sweetest childhood memories is of me standing on the terrace of my home in Jayanagar, hands outstretched, while a flock of sparrows would fly by in the evening. I would wait with some grains in my hands, thinking in my silly head that one of the sparrows would stop their flight for my pitiful offering. None of the sparrows stopped. But I would wait every day. Every single day. And then, they stopped flying altogether from Bangalore.
It saddens me that no one is talking about the disappearing crows in Bangalore. For me, the crow is not a bad omen. It has been my friend, paying me eerie visits in the middle of snow-capped mountains, accompanying me while I lounge on beaches, and waiting to swoop on my food in unknown restaurants. So, when I couldn’t spot crows for the past few months, I felt I had lost a friend.
Yesterday, for the first time in a long while, I was angry and it wasn’t with Travelling Birdy. So, today, I went on a 2.5-hour ride on my nephew’s cycle in the morning to clear my head. Vehicles whizzed by on the amazingly busy Mysore Road. What are people doing on a Sunday, driving madly? The sun came out, baking me. I stopped to have Thums-Up by a roadside stall while two boys in their teens smoked cigarettes and I inhaled their smoke disinterestedly. I didn’t smile at my flowers. I didn’t say hi to my skies. I looked away from people instead of conversing with them.
I turned into the Arch that marks the entrance to the area where my parents live. And there, I saw my crow for the first time. On the road, pecking away at a rat’s intestines. I stopped. I left the cycle and walked over. The one crow was joined by three other crows. They were having the Sunday feast of their lives. But the one crow I saw first was the one who was the hungriest, ripping away bloodied pieces from the rat. It didn’t seem to care I was there, while the other crows took flight.
The rat looked askance at me, at this degradation it was suffering in death.
I wanted to tell the rat I would not mind being in its place. To have one’s intestines plucked in death is far better than what people do to us when we are alive.
So much better. Where can I find my crow that would do me that favor?