The Jet Black Crow

by Rais Siddiqui

A crow holding a walnut in his claws. Pic: Fayaz Kabuli

It is a story of an old crow with jet-black colour. He has always leaned himself into deep thoughts, like a philosopher or a thinker. He kept thinking about how in earlier times a crow was considered a good sign. The caws of a crow sitting on a wall or a nearby tree of a house were considered a good omen because the house dwellers felt happiness that soon enough guests would arrive as the crow cawed and cawed.

In those days, guests were considered a blessing. But sadly, times have changed. Now, a crow and his caw sounds are thought to be a curse. For young people, a crow’s caw means that some unwanted guests would soon come and disturb the peace of their house. And for other young people, the caws of a crow would cause their blood pressure to shoot up. There is also a saying among the new generations, “why are you cawing like a crow”, which surely doesn’t have a positive aspect to it.

The old crow has to listen to all such bad words, which is very painful for him. One day, while reflecting on his life, he was flying up in the sky. On his way, he saw a white swan near a pond. As he was looking at the swan, he pitied himself for being black and ugly. The swan was white and beautiful. He thought to himself that the swan might be the most beautiful and luckiest bird in the whole world.

He landed near the swan and told him all about his worries. Having heard all his complaints, the swan replied, “I too took pride in my beauty until I saw a parrot. Parrots are usually green with a red beak and as I have heard, there are different types of parrots with various colour combinations. Parrots are certainly more beautiful and luckier as compared to me. They are also safe in a cage in the comforts of a house. Unlike me, who has to worry about being hunted down by humans”.

The Swan added that “if I was also black, jet black, like you, nobody would like to hunt me down.”

Then the old crow began to fly again and met a parrot on his way and told him all about his worries and fears. The parrot replied with a sigh: “I also used to think that I am the most colourful and beautiful, but it is a  grave fact that this beauty is a curse for me. Because of this, people shut me in a cage. I was also under the impression that I was the most beautiful until I saw a peacock. But now, I think if I was also jet black like you, I would not be compelled to live a caged life.”

After hearing what the parrot said, the old crow flew again and approached the peacock, telling him all about his despair and frustration. The peacock told the old jet-black crow in a heavy voice: “I, too, was overconfident about being the most beautiful, but my beauty became a curse for me. My life is always in danger because of my charming looks. People hunt me down to sell my feathers and earn money; as many think that the feathers of a peacock keep snakes away”.

After a brief pause, the peacock said, “But you are the luckiest one, as no one does wish to shut you in a cage; neither do they hunt you down. If God makes me jet black like you, I will also live a fearless and free life. You must thank God as you are living a life without fear and threat”.

Rais Sidiqiui (poet, Short Story Writer)

With this, the old jet-black crow took a deep note to himself by the real-life experiences, observations and deep feelings of the swan, the parrot, and the peacock. Now, he understands very well that we should not compare ourselves with anyone, because, such a type of comparison spoils our happiness. We should be satisfied with pride in what we have gotten from our God.

Thinking about other people’s fortunes makes us feel jealous, worried, unhappy, and pessimistic, which causes damage and harm to not only our health but to our happy life too, and makes us thankless to our Almighty!

(Author is Bhopal-based former IBS officer in All India Radio and Doordarshan and Sahitya Academy National Award and Delhi Urdu Academy Award winner in Urdu literature.)

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