Friday, 21 June 2013


For the last few days I  had been trying to be voluble, though I consciously tried to avoid talking to the people I knew for the simple reason that they liked to talk about things we had already discussed threadbare. I taxed my brain and tried to get inspiration from the sight of the visiting cousin of the landlord’s daughter bubbling with enthusiasm on the terrace. I still drew a blank and explored the vast expanse of the immediate surroundings of Nature. My grandfather taught me the art of talking to trees and animals by activating the passive mode of the mind enriched with the potential of pantheism.  Then out of the blue, there came the clue. I went back into the room and was back with some biscuits. I broke them into some tiny pieces and threw them on to the roof through the window. He came with a look of utmost alertness on the face. He did more of looking back than looking my way. I could not help appreciating the gesture as he knew that the thing in front of him was a sure goal but he refused to be obsessed with it. He looked back every now and then to ensure that there was no threat to him from behind. The thing arriving before me at a safe distance was a crow. I wanted to chat with it because I was mesmerized by the way it gave an impression that it was in flight even as it was perched to peck at the biscuits. I steeled and then slackened my nerves to get talking to it and also make it talk.

After the crow relished the pieces of the biscuits I had thrown at it and my neck had begun to ache from the way I tried to imitate its way of moving its neck back and forth, I decided to play the host for an interview with the extraordinary creature before me.As the crow opened its beak to caw ostensibly to show its sense of elation and some gratitude for the breakfast he had just had, I politely asked him to say something about his famously cautious and shabby nature. I imagined him grinning, though he did not have the teeth and appeared to be politely cunning. He twitched and then pruned the feathers on the back, hopping at a short distance from me. The appearance he had assumed was that of a creature that had honed its art of survival through a never going to give up sort of struggle. Filled with veneration like every citizen is before someone of a public mettle, I was inclined to bow before him but could not do so because of the fresh pain of the neck. As he began with the hoarseness of its caw, I allowed the words of his wisdom to settle on my senses.  One thing that struck me about the crow was the way he refused to be condescending and sounded sincere.

He addressed me as maverick and said that the very first thing he would like to recommend was to choose   crow as the national bird to diffuse the sense of alertness we hugely lacked. This, he said, might sound out of the place but would be discernible to one probing the question of alertness in the psyche of the country. He said that though he did not fly too far out to avoid the habit of distraction, a common trait of the young ones from his species, he had heard something ominous from an eagle he had been hospitable enough to accommodate when it perched on the edge of the branch of a coconut tree, his home for a long time.  He said that during his nocturnal conversation with the eagle that was widely travelled, he came to know about the adroitness with which the Chinese had been able to intrude into the country. They did so because they were able to catch the Indians napping. The crow shook its neck giving me a tingling feeling in mine and said that they would never do that. A deviation from the policy of alertness meant death for a crow and they guarded themselves against anything of that sort threatening to jeopardize them. Had India assumed such a policy of being on her guard in a meticulous manner, the Chinese would not have felt free to expand and annex territories.  He said that that we never skipped an opportunity to speak using jargons but did not maintain the simple theory of caution as the maxim of self-defence. The crow seemed to wink and said that they pruned the feathers on their surface only out of a sense of restlessness bolstered by the fact that the world was full of enemies. He said that the birthday present of a government that was formed anew in the country was  invariably a reiteration of friendship galore only to be sucked into the maw of hostility, thanks to the masked bravado of some neibouring states. Suddenly during the frequent turns of the head, he noticed with the calculating calmness of a saint that a young boy had just appeared on the terrace next to ours. He said that it was now time for him to fly away as he did not believe in the theory of making a public appearance when a boy with proven notoriety was in sight.“Watch your back and many of the problems coming your way would vanish, “said the sagacious crow like a seasoned coach before he flew off with the last of the crumbs in his beak.

As I sat there dumbstruck for some time, I was jerked back to my senses hearing the lowing of the cow of the next door widow bent with age. I should add that I had presently come here to our ancestral house in a suburban area on the outskirts of a town to spend my summer vacation. I often watched the bovine creature straying into our garden, chomping grass and the leaves of some plants. Before I could understand anything, the cow was in the garden, looking up at me at the window. Without wasting any time, I came down into the garden, though without the stick that my grandfather had given me to frighten away the creature. The cow did not look furtively like he did on other days. He fixed me with a penetrating look and said in a convivial tone that he could understand the way I chose to be communicative on that day. Without a second thought, I told the creature held in high esteem by devout Hindus and often chased away by residents eager to see their plants and trees flourish, that I wanted to seek his reaction to certain questions I had prepared. The cow nodded gently asking me to put the questions to him.

The first question was how he could manage to remain so quiet in this world of disquiet and dissent. Chewing the cud the way he does, the cow told me that the very basis of the life of a cow was to nurture and cultivate calmness. He said that the more intelligent of men termed them as bovine, indolent and stupid because of the way they preferred to remain calm and serene in the face of everything.  He emphasized without a trace of malice or bitterness that they never failed to render services benefitting the entire human race with the reward that they were branded as being foolish. He said in a tone of hurt that they did not regret the lack of appreciation in the humans they served but they were pained at discovering them steadily losing their sense of poise. He said that men never missed out on an opportunity to mock cows because of the look of serenity they put on while chewing the cud, lost in a appearance of rumination. Their eyes described as being profound were frequently jeered at as being synonymous with the appearance of a fake philosopher. He emphasized that they did not feel put off by those disparaging comments of humans as they were fortified with and sanctified by their association with Lord Krishna, the divine shepherd. They could retain their sense of serenity as they cherished the memories of the Lord playing on his flute the ecstatic tune of the harmony of his creation by reclining against one of them. "Calmness in the face of adversity and troubles stems from an inherent sense of poise and humans have now chosen to ignore this as they regard this as a state of stupor as opposed to their sense of being mercurial. You need to be at peace to understand the tune of harmony playing on the flute of the lord and there would not be any sort of disquiet," he said in a stolid voice. She paused as if she wanted to let the words settle on me. In a tone mellow with compassion, she seemed to whisper that she was the only mother who had to keep her supply of milk for others, letting her child, the calf, caper about dry in the mouth. She said that she could do this as part of a training to develop a sense  of goodness strengthened by the spirit of sacrifice and then in the twilight of her life allow herself to be slaughtered with the same gesture of calmness because she could see the lord being merged with her with a sense of poise and piety. As I felt like choking on a lump in the throat, I was called to go upstairs to take the day’s supply of milk.

Courtesy : Google Images

Labels: interaction, grandfather, breakfast, art, gratitude, enemies, friendship, vacation, shepherd, crow, cow, memories, association, Chinese, harmony, child, poise, peace, piety, creation, state, milk

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