I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Even Crows Grieve

I was taking Nike out for a walk early this morning. Nike, for those who do not know, is my year and a half pooch. He is the tiniest one on the road and the noisiest one as well. Except, this morning a bunch of crows were the noisiest. It made me wonder what the commotion was all about. You know, like in the movies (Hindi ones at least) there is a burst of bird cries whenever something sinister is about to happen. So, going by that, I knew something was up. 

While Nike dragged and pulled at the leash in his usual fashion, half choking himself in the process, I walked closer to the turn where I bear right to take him for a walk. There is a fenced area of greenery right outside the police quarters. There, on the ground, was a dead crow. Another crow, possibly the mate, was trying to wake up this dead bird, pecking, cawing, dragging...it made me stop short.

I looked up. Surrounding the scene were crows strategically surrounding the dead crow, sitting in almost a circle on the branches of trees, working up a cacophany that jarred the cool morning air. Outside of that periphery, were other crows gathering up which were merely onlookers. They did not caw, nor did they get near the dead one and its mate. They simply stood at a respectable distance and watched. 


I stood there a while taking in this scene and then being dragged by an over-excited pooch who had sighted a dead rat in the distance, I had to drag him away and continue with the walk. Of course, it is his walk so I walked on. This lane that I walk on is currently under construction and repair. There are piles of rock that has been broken into small sharp pieces. These piles form small hillocks on the road...miniature ones.

As I walked on, up ahead in the distance, I saw another bunch of noisy crows (yes, it was a bird morning) gathered behind one of these hillocks...of course Nike got excited...he had birds to chase. I wanted to see what was up. I almost thought there was another dead crow there, or worse, in the time I was walking Nike, the mate had carried the dead one there. I refer to the other crow as the 'mate' for want of a better reference. 

So...no, it was not that dead crow. It was not another dead crow but a juciy mango that had been pecked at. These crows were taking turns at tasting it...somehow, I thought they would be fighting over it. Instead, there was a visible banter going on and they were all sharing the mango. Umm...!


I walked back after going further down the lane with Nike. The sun was coming up and soon it would be burning the streets. I meandered my way back. (There is a lot of dog poop one has to avoid stepping on). Back I reach the same place. The dead bird lies alone on the ground. All the crows have flown away. Mate is not around either. It is over. 

One dead bird.

Several live ones.

Life goes on. 

- Sandy


  1. Hmmmm...WOw....AMazing....SO much life around Us goes unnoticed... You on the other hand seem to take the time...Thats always Great !!

  2. Love the way you observe things and connect them with life. The mental image of the mate pecking at the dead crow made me realize ,,,hey, that's probably where the word "wake" (used in funerals overseas) comes from :-)

  3. So well written, Sandy and so true. Life does go on and that's the best part of it!

  4. Chirag - thank you! I wish I could write so much more...there is a conversation happening with the visuals every second, all around. Today, the bird's feathers and a few smashed bones probably is all that remains. It had been thrown out in the past 24 hours, out of the garden where it died, out to the road which was under construction. By the looks of it, a road roller or a heavy vehicle tyre has run over it. It lay, pathetically flattened out.

    Luis - Probably that's where the word 'wake' originated from...actually I checked and here is two bits of what the Internet has to say:
    Broadly speaking, wakes are parties or social gatherings held in connection with funerals. These sometimes involve keeping watch beside the corpse and behaving in a demonstrative way, either by lamenting or merry-making. This implication of unruliness is widespread. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1978), the wake is "a vigil celebrated with junketing and dancing." The word primarily means, of course, to prevent someone from sleeping, to wake the person up, to disturb the person's slumber and make it impossible for him or her to slip back into it. The "junketing and dancing" take place in order to wake the person up again. That is why, compared with ordinary social behavior, wakes stand out as wild and unrestrained: They have to be "fit to wake the dead."

    Another one says: It comes from the old custom, predominantly in Ireland, of keeping an all night vigil over the coffin of a deceased family member the night before the burial. Eventually the term became misused as meaning a celebration after a funeral rather than staying awake to keep watch before it. In old days, and i am old enough to remember them, the body would sometimes be brought home, dressed in his or hers best clothes with the coffin stood up in a corner of the room, (which had to be kept unheated), with the lid left off so that friends could visit and pay their last respects, Often a bottle of whiskey was available to fortify anyone who found the sight particularly disturbing. Many did, hence the custom of drinking whiskey at the 'wake'.

    A third view says: Wake refers to the "watch" over the body to see if there would be an awakening...sometimes people aren't really dead....the wake was to keep vigil to see if the dead woke up...so as to not bury someone alive....

    So...I guess it was a sort of wake for the dead bird as well.

    Corinne - Thank you!