HEY CROW! • by Rumjhum Biswas

Do you know anybody who likes crows?

Of course not! I knew you’d say no! How can anyone ever like a crow!

Those birds are just too ugly and way too clever for their own good. Just look at them. They look like miniature chimney sweeps in ragged clothes. They look like they’ve never washed ever in their lives. And, they stink too!

See that one there by the tea stall? Did you see him? That beady-eyed tatterdemalion! Bending down like he’ll pick the dust off your shoes and even thank you for it. Don’t be fooled. Watch how alert he is. Crows don’t trust anyone. Crows are always on the run. Smelly, messy, thieving creatures! The little savages will take food right out of your hand if you let them.

I can’t think of anyone who’d want a crow for a pet. Can you? I can’t imagine a crow in a cage. With its own water bowl and food tray. Imagine whistling to it? Babbling sweet nothings? Or even scratching its feathers? Ack! Can you think of anyone who would want to teach a crow to sing? Those birds are clever no doubt, but you can never tame them. You can never own them. Not that anybody would want to own a crow. Especially one who is like you!

Yeah, you. Hey you crow! Stop trying to look innocent. You don’t fool me one bit. I know you’re up to no good. So you had better tell me, what you have been doing! What’s cooking underneath that unruly crop of hair? You scamp. You urchin! Filthy fellow! When did you last take a bath? I bet you’ve got lice and worms, and scabies too! Hey! Where are you running off to now? My goodness! Just look at you run. You look busier than an army of ants in a sugar bowl. Now stop that! Stop darting in between those speeding cars and buses. Do you want to get killed? Not that anyone would care! Don’t you know this is the rush hour? Don’t you know what other boys of your age are doing right now? Look there.

There, at those boys over there at the bus stop. See how neat they are in their school uniforms. How scrubbed and shiny they look, waiting to go to school. And, look at you! Shame on you! Scrambling off in the opposite direction. I don’t see any satchel on your scruffy back. No uniform on your scrawny frame. No shoes. But goodness! How fast you can run on those cracked little feet! How quickly your eyes dart about. One eye looks out for a kind soul who’ll part with a coin, out of pity for you. While the other watches out for blows and rough words. You’re a smart one, all right. But not smart enough, not yet. Oh no. I can see that. You still have some crow learning to do.

If you had wings, I bet, you would fly around snatching up food scraps. You’d scrimmage in dustbins. But you do that sometimes, don’t you? When you’re out of work, and you get thrashed by the bigger ones in the process. Right now, you are lucky you’ve got a job, working as errand boy for food and lodging and the odd rupee tossed into your hands. So, who is your master? Who is the keeper of your cage? Is it that stout mustachioed fellow at the tea stall? Is that why you’re carrying those clay cups in one hand and a steaming kettle in the other? And, where do you sleep at night? Under the tea cart? Even when it rains? Aah crow! It’s a wonder you haven’t caught your death of cold so far. But you will. There’s no escape. Those lungs soak up a lot more rain than you can imagine.

Oh, your eyes are so cocksure and so wary of the world. Just like your winged brother, your natural twin, sitting tight, beady eyed on his perch. Cunning bird that he is, he’ll dive down for the crumbs and fly off before the wheels can crush him. It’s not easy to catch a crow, is it? And, you’re learning fast too. Soon you’ll be able to dive your grubby hands into unwary pockets. Soon you’ll learn to unscrew window grilles. It’s just a matter of time. You’ll be despised even more then. But, you won’t care anymore. Your nimble feet will help you run. Run fast every time. You’re practicing that right now by running across these streets; in and out of the wheels. You’re not an expert yet, but you’re getting there. You still have to watch out, though. You’re not fast enough yet. You better watch out, now. Hey! Watch out! Hey Crow!

Rumjhum Biswas is a headless chicken when she doesn’t write. She stores her stuff, not necessarily on time or in order here: www.rumjhumbiswas.com. She blogs here: http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com/.

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