Skip to main content

The Battle Royale.

He is still there, watching her through the open kitchen window, with a reproachful look in his eyes. She is firmly ignoring him. She doesn’t take very kindly to anyone refusing to eat her cooking.

Amma loves to feed birds, and has kept dishes filled with food and water on her kitchen window sill. That is how the crow started coming to our house.

Amma had made something of a pet of this crow who sat in the kitchen window every day, waiting for her to feed him left over food, stale slices of bread, things which crows are supposed to eat uncomplainingly. Even this one did. Till one day he tasted chaklis.

While poking around in the cabinets Amma came across old packets of Chaklis. No one remembered purchasing them, maybe left over from Diwali. And by now the chaklis were several months old, and emanated musty smell of stale oil. We all refused to even touch them, and declared them unfit for human consumption. Amma’s thrifty heart baulked at such a waste, and she hated to throw out the good -well, the Almost good -chaklis this way. Finally she threw one chakli in the bird dish. Her crow was sitting there, waiting for his turn, ignoring the birdseed. He pounced on the chalki and caught it in midair gracefully and was a changed crow from that day onwards.

In the early days it was all fun. We would stand around and watch him crunch the chakli. Amma would say with grim satisfaction, "at least the chaklis were not wasted", and we laughed at the way the crow would call his cronies over. But soon, very soon, the chaklis got over, and then began a battle of wills. The crow refused to eat anything other than chaklis.

At first Amma was amused to see him sitting there, refusing the slice of bread in the dish, and later became exasperated. After that it sort of became a challenge to make that crow eat something. Instead of stale bread he was now being tempted with fresh bread. Instead of leftover roti, he now got freshly made one, warm from Tawaa. But he still held out for chaklis. He would just poke at the food and leave it uneaten. And after giving Amma, what we thought as reproachful look for playing such a dirty trick on him, he would fly away. I am afraid Amma took his rejection rather to her heart.

Days went by; we could see Amma cooing to the crow in persuasive whispers. There were jokes galore. We suggested she buttered the bread, or perhaps some jam? There were solicitous enquiries about the crow's preference in fruit. Will fresh ones do or would he prefer rotten ones. Dad loudly worried about the crow's cholesterol levels, and asked Amma to feed her pet nutritious food. At dinner time he would ask meekly, “Can I have one more roti? If the crow doesn’t want it, that is.” Amma took all this ragging in good spirit, but neither the crow nor she would give in. "I have brought up three children" was her refrain.

But it was clear that something had to be done. Amma was trying to discipline her crow with same ruthlessness she had shown while bringing us up.” Everything in the plate must be finished. There are children starving in the world. Eat up. This is good for you”. Maybe that’s why we loved our crow. My bossy Amma had met her match at last. We were having bets to see who wins. Meanwhile , the crow went on sitting in our window with sad look in his eyes. Amma too had started to look rather frazzled.

Finally this morning, just as I was stepping out, Amma whispered to me, “Get a packet of Chaklis, the broken ones will do. They are cheaper.”


Quicksilver! said…
After being stalked and attacked by a psycho-crow on my evening walks I am on an ‘I-hate-all-the-crows-of-the-world’ stance at the moment.
But I found myself drawn to Amma and her favorite crow thanks to your wonderful writing, Suniti :)
Your writing has the warmth that makes me feel like I am snuggled up in a quilt on a winter’s day. Very, very nice. And perfect, as it is.

P:S: I am wondering if my crow/attacker could be the same crow that Amma has been feeding chakli’s to? Coz he’s really fat-bordering-on-obese…you know…all those chalkis…;)

Popular posts from this blog

A credit card for free.

“ This is for you ma’am, compliments of the store”. The attendant at the cash counter handed me a credit card. I pushed it away as if it was on fire.
“ No thanks. I don’t use them much. And I have one already.”
The attendant looked at me pityingly. I always have this horrid suspicion that attendant kids always pity me.
Next twenty minutes were spent explaining to me, how , with the shop’s own ‘Privileged customer’ card and the additional credit card I was going to save thousands of rupees, not to mention earn brownie points and win free gifts like diamond earrings, DVD players, and a free trip to Goa.
“ And ma’am, it’s free!” That clinched the matter. A free card can’t hurt me much, can it?

After reaching home I pushed the unwanted card at the back of my desk drawer, and forgot about it. One year was over. And I started receiving bills for the never used card. I questioned the shop, and reminded them that they had said – Free card, no service charges.
“ Only for one year ma’am! Now you w…

Kala Ghoda- Sonal Mansingh

I went to Kala Ghoda in severe conflict about what to see and what to do. This was one of the time when you feel like having a few clones and catch the whole show.But friend Ajita won, and we headed for Horniman Circle gardens to attend Sonal Mansingh’s Odissi performance.The evening was cool and breezy, the gardens were filling up fast. We could see the patron Goddesses of the event, Brinda Miller, Devika Bhojwani and Sarayu Doshi flitting around, getting show started.The ceremonial Lamp refused to stay lit. Finally the lamp was announced as “lit” behind the shelter of a file, and the show started. And what a show it was!I was all prepared to give a nod to Culture and then rush over to watch Soparkar’s Troup “Dancing in the streets “. But that was only till Sonal started her first piece, devoted to Goddess Maatangi, the patron goddess of all arts. From now on “Bhavani Dayani” will always look like Sonal.There was something of a sybil in her whole persona. Her goddess was not an eth…

Let's start at the very beginning...

My impressions of Dubai airport are blurred thanks to a fast moving airport cart with me sitting backwards. I am uncomfortable sitting facing backwards in any vehicle. One always likes to see where one is going. Sitting with our back to the driver is kind of heading into the unknown and we see things only in retrospect - if you get the meaning. I saw high ceiling, lights all over, arches galore ( I think ) people everywhere and a vastness of proportion which was not unpleasant. It was the " Topi Ud Gayi " kind of place that interests and overwhelms you at the same time.  If airports can be thought to be masculine or feminine, then Dubai airport struck me as a feminine airport, in soft colors, decked up and scintillating. What ever my other impressions, my most fixed memory will be the driver singing ' dani dani dani daaaani '! He was a handsome guy with a high energy even at 2.30. I wish he had sung the next line. Maybe the next time I visit Dubai...

The 17 hr fligh…