Two Crows On A Forage – A (Real) Story

Charcoal drawing from Etsy


Two kinds of people, in a day,

‘often come your way.  

Lo and behold, I saw them both today,

‘eyeing at where the eats lay.

Away and towards, slanting their heads,

‘rolling their dark suspicious eyes.

‘who here? friends or foes?

Thoughts racing in their minds…

Cookies crumbled for easy eat

‘proved far too much to resist.

Their escape could always be swift.

‘any time they saw a threat.

So they gingerly stepped up to it.

To human presence, ever alert.

The nervous one quickly stole one treat,

‘and made away without a regret.

The other took one and then one…

‘until there remained none,

‘not dropping his guard until done.

And, no looking back… was gone!

Two kinds of people, in a day,

‘often come your way.  

For always, right or wrong, who is to say

‘but this: while the sun shines, make hay?



An Old Story And New Insights

A story most from my generation must have heard as children sitting on the lap of their grandma (don’t know what is said to them these days). It goes generally like this:

In a village an old woman sitting under a tree prepared vada’s for sale.

A crow sitting on the tree waited for an opportunity.

When the woman was looking away, the crow swooped down and flew up and away, picking up a delicious vada in its beaks, all in a flash.

As it sat on a branch of a nearby tree, ready to savour its booty, a fox came along. .

Espying the crow atop with the vada in its beaks,the scheming fox spoke:

‘Oh my friend there, news got to me you’re blessed with a very sweet voice that has the koels go away in shame! I have come from a long distance only to hear your voice. Could you kindly sing a song for me? Won’t you? Please don’t disappoint me. ’

The crow was thrilled to hear these words. Not to disappoint its appreciative audience, the crow obliged.

As it opened its mouth going ‘kaa kaa’, the inevitable happened.

The fox grabbed the fallen vada with alacrity and quietly slipped away leaving the crow in a daze.

Usually the grandma, a simple soul, finished the story and made her demand like the child should now go to sleep or eat its food without further fuss…The moral of the story was not explicitly stated. And we simply understood it as: the crow was foolish and the fox wily.

Grandma’s, in the generations that followed, grew more articulate. They would point out how it was unwise of crow to foolishly embark on what it was not capable of, falling a victim to flattery.

Some crow lovers, not happy with the story, added a second round where the crow, learning from its experience, would hold the vadaunder its claws and belt it out raucously to the fox’s dismay.

A few die-hard purists steered the story back to its original course: In a third round, the fox would request the crow holding the vada in its claws to perform a dance. Yes, it meant the foolish crow…

In some versions, the smart crow, till the end, holds fast to the vada while obliging the fox with song and dance.

In all these versions the story is one of getting into deep waters and followed optionally by learning from one’s experience and getting out unscathed.

The one moral of the story, right before us in plain sight, yet strangely missed by most, was pointed out by Dr Sudha Seshayyan in one of her programs I watched today:

Ill-gotten gains are never enjoyed.

At one stroke this invalidates the versions that let the crow get away with the vada.  All said and done the crow was a thief stealing it from the old woman. Unintended consequences of tampering an old tale?


Source: image from YouTube

The Story Of The Zamindar, The Servant And The Crows

It was late evening. The Zamindar (a big landlord) was pacing up and down in the hall like a husband outside a maternity ward. He was concluding a deal on the following day to purchase a crucial piece of land that would bridge his current holdings into one large contiguous stretch. He feared for any eleventh hour hitches that might derail the deal. The seller, for instance, sensing his desperation could hike the prices unreasonably. His ill-wishing neighbors could snatch away the deal. Anything could happen, there was no telling.

Just then, an industrious crow foraging for the last time in the day, flew in and settled on a window sill, angled his head and peered at him. It was a spot that never denied the crow – he was sure to find some tidbits that the finicky Zamindar would chuck from his plate of snacks. The Zamindar paused for a moment and without any thought returned the courtesies staring right back at the interloper. When the sight of the crow registered, it jogged his recent memories. In a flash it all came back to him.

A week ago, a Sadhu on his way to Varanasi passed through the village. To a question from his audience, the Zamindar had heard him clearly say sighting early in the morning a pair of crows perched together was unfailingly a very good omen. Any task undertaken on that day simply had to succeed in favor of the beholder. A couple of days later an incident occurred that seemed to reinforce what the Sadhu had said. On that day when he went to the back of the house to brush his teeth in the morning, quite unexpectedly he had come across a pair of crows fighting on the ground over a dead lizard. For a moment, the Sadhu’s words flitted across his mind. And then he forgot all about it. During the day, at the collector’s office they were able to lay their hands on hitherto untraceable provenance records of the land that he was planning to buy thus greatly facilitating the transaction to be. That’s when the Zamindar – more astute than you would give to a man living by the land – began to connect the dots. Maybe there was something in what the blessed Sadhu had said.

It was an important day ahead of him and he could do with all the luck he can get his way. He decided to further secure his position in the life of uncertainties by following the Sadgu’s advice. He summoned his servant and ordered him to get up early in the morning, stand watch at the back of the house. As soon as he saw a pair of crows together engaged in whatever he should not do anything to disturb them and quietly rush to his Master and take him to the spot without losing a moment.

That night the Zamindar tossed and turned in his bed and fell asleep – when the mosquitoes regretfully but wisely quit buzzing in the range his deep and vocal snore.

He was having a gala time in the Kingdom of Morpheus harvesting bountiful crops of rice, banana and cane and all the merry-making thereafter. At a very inopportune time, as it always happened, he was rudely brought back into the real by the knocker noisily and insistently banging against his bedroom door. Still a bit disoriented, he dragged himself to the door, set in his mind to award 50 lashes with a thorned whip to whoever was on the other side.

Who else it could be but his servant all excited at an opportunity to please the Master.

‘Why are you creating all this ruckus? Is the house on fire? Or, the cows have broken their tether and run away? You better have a good reason.’

‘Master, you told me yesterday to wake you up.’

‘Did I? Why would I?’

‘Rush, Master. This is no time to argue. The crows may have other things on their mind.’

Now he recalled what this was all about. He would curb his servant’s insolence later. First things first. He hurried behind the servant to the back of the house. As soon as they reached the clearing, the servant paused.

‘Look there, Master, ‘pointing to the low branches of the near-by jamun tree.

‘Look where, you dope?’ the Zamindar was clearly not at his best.

‘There, at the …’ the servant dropped his pointing hand.

‘Quick, tell me. Fool, crows are flighty, don’t sit forever.’

‘You’re right, Master.’


‘Yes, there’s only one, now. ‘

A long silence ensued, the Master furious, the servant fidgeting.

‘Playing with me? You’ll pay for this.’

‘No, Master, I swear by Angaalathamman, they were two when I came to fetch you.’

The Zamindar went red in his face: ‘Mutt, you should have called me sooner. Now, you’ve screwed up my day and my business. I’ll teach you to do better.’

He sent a stinging slap to the cheeks of his servant that would have sent the latter reeling had it connected.

The alert servant ducked it deftly and helped the Zamindar regain his balance all in one well-practiced move. After all any servant’s motto was never to let his Master down.

Feeling thwarted Zamindar’s face went a shade redder. He was contemplating on ways to continue with the unfinished lesson for his servant when the latter spoke up:

‘Master, I wouldn’t worry if I were you.’

‘What an extraordinary thing to say? Of course, you’ll never be me.’ The Zamindar roared – this fellow must be put in his place.

‘Sir, the Sadhu was in the wrong and your day is not ruined as you fear.’

‘Now hear this. Didn’t know you’re into bhang. Go and splash some cold water on your face. God, you’re not done sending problems my way?’

‘Master, I’m quite sober. See, one, two, three, four…, I can count.’

‘Oh, shut up.’

‘Sir, I bet my meager wages and say again, the Sadhu was wrong.’ The first part was lost in a mumble.

‘Alright, wise guy, pray tell me why?’

‘Master, look, how did the morning go for me?

‘Mmmm…not too well, I may have been a little harsh. But considering what you did…I mean what you didn’t,’ the Zamindar frowned – where was this heading?

‘Master, remember, I was the one who saw the pair of crows perched together first thing this morning.’

It took a while for the Zamindar to sort it out.