The cawing was incessant. Crows don't irritate me; I've come to realise they are so utterly mediocre, so common, devoid of even the edginess that might make them irksome. Like pigeons sometimes do.
Crows are often spotted on cable wires or pecking at leftovers near garbage dumps or on balcony railings and window sills. They are rarely seen on trees. They are not meant for the lushness of nature.
That day, as the rains beat hard and swelling rivers formed on low-lying streets, I heard the crow. Caw-caw-caw he went on. He was sitting on the box of the airconditioner that jutted out of the window. The tapping of claws on tin expressed desperation. I parted the curtain and saw this creature shiver as the showers blurred vision. I retracted my instinct to shoo. Where would he go?
Without saying anything, I offered hospitality. The cawing increased. The tapping became louder. I don't expect much from crows, and while social graces can be learned, grace is inherent. In a world where the average rules, it is easy for crows to believe they can be kings. They know they will never get to wear a crown, be acceptable in the company of birds that are more exotic, have melodious voices, larger wings, colourful plumes, furry feathers.
Some crows live in delusion.
I let that one stay and crushed some biscuits. He lapped up most of it hungrily, hunched in fake humility, as shifty eyes filled with greed for more than what was offered. There were specks on his black coat that he seemed to want to take back as trophy.
The rains stopped. He flew away, or so I thought. Within minutes the cawing started again. I checked. Nothing. I went to the other window and there he was on the adjacent parapet. Another crow had joined him. A female, I think. Perhaps a partner. She began pecking at the leftover crumbs on his coat, similar shifty eyes wondering if there was something more that could be got.
What appeared to bind them together were those flakes. As the clouds cleared and light sunshine shone, the tragedy of the shivering crow was replaced with a devious demeanor.
It was a sad sight.
Next day, I heard the sounds again. This time at the original place on the airconditioner. There were no rains. I decided to shoo him off. He had a piece of flesh hanging from his beak, an ugly wreck of a carcass scavenged from someone's waste. As soon as he saw me, he threw it as though that was the purpose of his visit. I don't open the bottom half of the window ever. He was trying to get me to do it by drawing attention to what he had left, that was rotten and would attract more filth.
I ignored it. The tapping of claws began a few hours later. The flesh was being torn into. This time it was the female. Seeing me, she dropped the bone close to the window. The glass did not break nor did it get stained. In fact, it boomeranged and fell to the ground. Frustrated, she flew away, a slimy sliver hanging from the beak. She met her partner at the other window and they began chewing on that little piece of almost nothing.
They had failed. They had failed to even share anything besides crumbs with each other.
It was a sad sight that they left their nest, not merely to find shelter near homes but to make believe they had a right over another's space. It was as if they wanted to say, “Look, we know the person" and even try and pass off the ill-gotten rotten flesh as belonging here.
Apart from shredding what they had, they did not see anything else. Not the beautiful flowers that sprouted after the onset of monsoons, not the fauna that trilled a new song, not even the gentle swaying of the curtains.
Many hours later, I heard the tapping again, a different kind of tapping. Firm. It was the kite. Occasionally, he does appear and after staring turns his back. This time too he looked directly at me and we held each other's gaze for a few minutes. I knew biscuits were not his thing, yet I brought out a few. He ate them, rather graciously, and then looked at me. Majestically opening his wings wide, he conveyed clearly he had nothing to hide.
© Farzana Versey