Short Story

The Crow’s a Smart One
Nitin Trivedi
Translation: Harish Mahuvakar

The crow’s really a smart one. Neither he hops, nor flies here and there. Without any reason doesn’t cow as well. The cuckoo no doubt likes some of his habits but right now while he was returning, he flew over Rekha Joshi’s house, and this, and like such things she doesn’t like at all.

Of course the crow’s a black one but he’s really a smart one.

Somebody sang: O Blacky, Blacky One. Come n savour curry.’ But he won’t go. At any cost he won’t go as he keeps away from milk. Curry contains buttermilk, buttermilk curd, and curd milk. Not only milk but he forbade all sorts of milk-made sweets so he won’t take curry. The crow’s black and milk’s white. Milk can be poured out but a crow can’t be. Because the crow’s a smart one.

The crow’s having a great sense not to drop his matter nearby Rekha Joshi house, Madhuri Dixit flat gallery, or Shilpa Parekh tenement. Such kind of his awareness the cuckoo doesn’t prefer at all and yet she lost her heart on him but doesn’t want to sacrifice herself for such a trifle.

Some days back, one or two weeks before it happened that the crow was eating a poori -a fried cake. A fox happened to pass by from there and he sweetened his tongue and said, ‘Oye Kishore Kumar how’s everything?’ The crow looked at him so the fox was encouraged, ‘Oye, I say, how are you The Voice of Kisore Kumar?’ The crow shook his head. The fox went on, ‘Haven’t listen to you since long, so no heart at all.’ The crow pressed the poori under his feet and started, ‘Yodle yodle uuu….  Yodle yodle uuu….’

And the cuckoo witness of all this felt unbound happiness. Even Rekha Joshi became happy. Madhuri Dixit too became happy and so was Shilpa Parekh. Only the fox remained untouched.

The cuckoo rained her emotions over the crow. And the crow too drenched in them. Of course he didn’t turn white but did he bathe for such a thing? ‘Neither you nor me a European, isn’t it My Lata Mangeshkar?’ He kissed her then. Because she turned red, she couldn’t bring out her cry well. She liked the crow’s kiss but she didn’t like it all. When he kissed her, she saw that his eyes were on Rekha Joshi, or Madhuri Dixit, or Shilpa Parekh. The crow spoke as if to himself, ‘After all every female is like an average Indian woman.’

At the love Garden corner on a mango tree branch the cuckoo sat and laid her head on the bosom of the crow. The crow caressed her with his beak. She felt an urge of listening his cowing that went in her heart and she laid her ears there, but she felt the throbbing for Rekha… Madhuri…Shilpa. Quickly she severed herself and yet those names came to her mind or they budged into her ears. On such a gesture the crow wondered what the case may be but he insisted on her visiting a gynaec.

Moved by his feelings she fixed her mind and got ready to go to the doctor thinking that at least she would be able to open her heart to him. But she found the weight of those names engraved in his hearts. Moreover the will weakened, as the clinic of that good gynaec was beside the apartment where Madhuri Dixit stayed. And the matter ended there.

… And the cuckoo was engrossed in the various thoughts.

Rekha Joshi is busy on a Zee TV or a Star TV serial. Suddenly there’s interruption and the screen turns obscure. This happened as the hard wind shook the antenna. Rekha Joshi made her face and went to the terrace to set the antenna. But soon the feelings leapt away from her and her face brightened. On the antenna was sitting the crow that defeated the clever fox. She gazed at him as if she lost her heart on him. The crow flung his clever smile. ‘Hi…’ he said and Rekha too responded ‘Hi…’ and went closer to the antenna.

‘Sorry to upset the antenna,’ the crow said with a smile. ‘But there was no other way to see you…I’m Kagdev…and you?’

Rekha liked to listen to Kamdev rather than Kagdev. Her eyes filled with emotions. Hardly she could utter, ‘Me R..R…Rekha.’

“If Laxman has not drawn should I cross the line?’ The way he put it Rekha was mesmerised… shaken… moved… almost died on him.

‘Welcome please…Let’s have coffee.’ Rekha invited him.

‘Oh, I don’t take milk. I keep away from it.  Your coffee later on some day.’ Saying this, he spread his wings, gave a smile, and flew gracefully. Rekha in search of words spoken in between lines, stared at his flight till he disappeared…

And with a start the cuckoo comes to the reality as before her was the crow. And her thoughts like the terrible circle of an eagle ended abruptly.

The cuckoo made complaints. Of course in the tone she would mix up her sweetness and say, ‘Dear Kag, Don’t you know our community very well? The male ones especially. How jealous! Though they show no courage for a trifling, they are unable to bear my inter-caste relation with you. But dear I don’t like it as I die for you and you fly after the other ones.’

‘Oh what a splendid thing you said.’ Then he burst into laughter. ‘Oye, My heart falls upon such moves.’ He then played and kissed her beaks. Beaks upon beaks. Then the eyes…and then the wings… and then…..so and such things…

This crow was spellbound by Madhuri’s sweet smile. This was the same crow that tore open a so called painter who gave his heart to Madhuri. This one actually drew nothing, as you know oil and water remain separate. There was no art at all in his painting. He had to confess it to her. Since then Madhuri showered more love on the crow.

A friend of the cuckoo secretly laid eggs in an unknown crow nest. This genius crow cleverly found it out and caught and as an act of punishment for this crime she was put into a cage in His Majesty Aurangzeb’s palace.

By such a brave heart act Shilpa Parekh was very much impressed. Whenever she was impressed her thick and beautiful locks of hair waved and she herself turned very attractive. The crow was also impressed by such a hair treasure.

The cuckoo had felt for her friend’s disgrace and yet she liked her ‘He – man’.

And yet the cuckoo slightly began to doubt that whether it was the sweetness in his feelings that Madhuri bore. And can it be that his speech too reflected Madhuri’s sweetness? And whenever he comes to this nest why it is so that he always comes from the side of Rekha Joshi’s home? Such thoughts possessed her and she beat her beak on the branch. For her now cowing grew less and such thoughts grew more. And more grew her beating of beak. She feared its breaking down and if it is so she will have to have a newer one but in that case suppose the crow breaks down the his promise as he had to a mynah, what about her?

Later on she reflected: No, My Kag won’t do such a thing. If it’s so why should he insist on taking me to a gynaec. Even he doesn’t say, ‘Go, Koyalbai go. I’ll visit you tomorrow morning.’ He returns in the evening. Though he’s late, but he returns. Isn’t it sufficient?

…but lately he has begun to appreciate the evening darkness and compare it to the Shilpa Parekh hair-locks. This is intolerable. If I don’t sing the poets don’t find it un-inspirational. These Cheap Ones would pen on hair locks. How should I grow such locks that my beloved confines to me only? Oh what a pity to us female ones! This is how she ached in love.

It’s late evening. From the unpleasant side the crow descends on the mango branch at the Love Garden corner. The cuckoo was displeased. The crow moved closer to her, ‘Sorry darling got late.’ ‘Well, it’s my pleasure that even though late, you have come, my dear Wanderer.’ She told him with a sullen face. The crow spreads a special smile that is his style. He also possesses the female psychology so right now he doesn’t hug her and yet the cuckoo felt it. Still his displeasure has not gone.

The crow knows everything very well so he allows her ways. She thinks to leave her but he doesn’t do anything. What he does is smile and to it she reacts. She is angry. Before she leaves she curses him. She lets out her anger, ‘I lay eggs in your nest, and you care for those Vain Ones Madhuri, Shilpa, and…. and I continuously lay and care the eggs but you have no concern at all.’ And he… his reaction to this curse is his smile, that typical special smile.

On the very next day on the other mango branch when she didn’t find him she felt his absence. Quickly she flew to his place but he was not there. She searched everywhere but he wasn’t seen. ‘Oh My Beloved…O where have you gone?  What nonsense have I done!’ and she began to weep.

In reality the crow used to move to Europe during the Shraddha. This period of paying homage to the elderly dead ones with sweet milk and porridge offerings, he always took it as an insult. He never liked porridge. Moreover he always kept away from milk. He even didn’t care to say why he forbade himself from milk.

But the cuckoo saw that it wasn’t the Shraddha period and that confused her more. She believed that he won’t fly to Europe. Mostly he informed his whereabouts. But who knows these males. He is also a male. May become angry and sometime also offended. But if he left, where? Where he went? Hell to my singing. And she pecked violently on the branch.

At that time she heard someone knocking at the nearby nest on the other tree. ‘Hello… could you tell me where does Kagdev reside?’

Somebody from there pointed his beak to this mango tree. The inquirers turned to Mango tree no.1.  They were the friends of the crow. They greeted her and after formal talks they informed, ‘We had been to Mumbai. We took this side on our return. Actually we had a wish to see you and Kagdev.  How’s everything going on? All’s well? Kagdev doing well? And yes he’s not seen. Where’s he?’

‘What’s to happen to your Kagdev?’ she moaned and said. ‘The crow’s neither hungry nor thirsty. He’s the apple of Rekha Joshi eye, he’s an impulse of Madhuri Dixit, he’s black hue of Shilpa Parekh hair, and all this make a knot to shake my nerves. He’s all fun and frolic. For me it’s all toxic. It bakes and breaks my heart.’ And she began to cry. The crow friend circle was shocked to this.

One of them after some time in a friendly tone said to her, ‘Look Koyaldevi, don’t be disappointed. We know Kagdev very well. His each word and action is having a purpose. Doesn’t do anything in vain.’

The other said, ‘On seeing him I am always reminded Kagbhushandi.’ When this was said the rest were amazed. He closed his eyes and as if describing a scene before him, he continued.   ‘Once a knowledge greedy Brahmin appeared before Loshmuni one who himself believed in knowledge and nothing else.  He had a habit of doubting each thing like our modern police. So the Muni had a conflict with him and cursed him. He said, ‘As you doubt even a small thing so you deserve my curse. You be a crow.’ The Brahmin welcomed it happily and became a crow and got known as Kagbhushandi.’ The Kag friend slowly opened his eyes and looked at the cuckoo. ‘O Koyaldevi, I fear that our Kagdev is the incarnation of Kagbhushandi.’

‘You doubt it?’ the other friend asked. ’The Brahmin doubted and he became a crow but if a crow doubts what would he be?’ All the friends laughed in cowing. A smile ran on the cuckoo that had composed herself now.

One more friend said, ‘On the reference of our friend Kagdev I remember a story told by my Grandpa in my childhood. It is about a crow that was punished by a king. But the crow enjoyed on each punishment and became Jolly Crow…’-

Finally all of them decided that it was their duty to find out Kagdev.  For the sake of cuckoo as well as for their relation.

After so many efforts, they got the news that the Kagdev is residing in the National Park. They all reached there. As they came to the most beautiful place of the Park, for a while all of them couldn’t believe what they saw. On a very graceful throne sat Kagdev.  Before him were many geese, saluting him. A couple of female geese were at his feet nursing him. So that Kagdev doesn’t feel hot day Shilpa Parekh stood there swinging her hair. In the golden dish before him Madhuri Dixit and Rekha Joshi served sweets. On his left Miss Universe and on the right Miss World insisted him for more sweets.

The crow friend circle was mesmerised. The cuckoo became unconscious and fell. Even though she fell, from the floor her oblique sight reached to him. It was as if five Pandvas were treating Draupadi.  Got up immediately and now it was different. She saw the crow enjoying the treat of five beauties. She thought when she got up so hastily that she lost something from within.

The crow after such an excellent treat found himself in a sublime experience. There were still sweets left in the golden dish which he could not have. One of the friends whispered to the cuckoo, ‘Koyaldevi, you must be knowing that Lord Rama had had berries that tasted by Shabri. And it must be also in your mind that one Rishi who was the Lord of Crows, came as a crow and had also eaten the left-over of Rama.’

The cuckoo nodded and approved the same. The friend now proceeded, ‘So won’t you have left-over of our Kagdevji?’

She lowered her eyes in coyness. By the time one friend took a goose aside and asked him, ‘What are you all doing here?’ The goose replied, ‘Here we had a camp. We were learning an art from our honourable teacher Kagdevji.’

‘Which art?’ curiously he asked.

‘We were learning the art of walking,’ said he and this deeply impressed one resumed to his seat. On this very moment the crow saw his friends and Koyal. In a royal tone he ordered, ‘Disperse.’

And with this the trainee geese got up slowly, and with a newly learnt wonderful technique of walking they went away from there.

The cuckoo was so much surprised that she couldn’t move a bit from her place. She now and then made glances on Miss Universe or Miss World. The difference in it only was that the eyes now missed sparks of Rekha, Madhuri, and Shilpa. The clever crow immediately noticed the difference.

The friends approached to him, ‘Hi hello! Hello Kagdev. This kind of your stature impressed us but Koyaldevi is depressed. This, yes this sort of you status, your behaving like an incarnation, we can’t understand. Really we can’t.’

The crow smiled.  Enchanting smile. Miss Universe smiled. Miss World too smiled. And in this choric smile joined Rekha Joshi, Madhuri Dixit, and Shilpa Parekh. He looked at her. She too had the same feeling.  For this one the crow had been waiting since long. And the cuckoo spread more enchanting smile than Madhuri.

The crow with a still look like that of a Yogi saw his friends offering him a curiosity garland, made of plenty of questions. Spreading a wing on Miss Universe shoulder and the other wing on Miss World shoulder, he spoke, ‘My form! My being! Tell me where I am not. I am not present here only. I am everywhere…everywhere am I. I am the wetness in the Rekha Joshi Eyes. And I am the blackness of Madhuri Dixit eyes. I am the spread hair locks of Shilpa Parekh. Shyam among the Gopis- I am. Blackness of Radha’s Shyam- I am too. I am vortex among colourful flowers. Herald of guests I am. Great contribution in idioms I am and I am odd in daily practices. I am…’

The enchantment faded now and all began to wonder. Then the crow pulled her closer and while embraced he whispered her, ‘…and the West Indies in India I am.’

The cuckoo couldn’t understand anything. The crow did his special typical and mysterious smile. Before she gets the meaning, those five beauties made a circle around the couple. They clapped rhythmically as they do in a Rasa. And it was in such a confusion and amazement; the cuckoo began to eat from the crow dish.

It was the pink evening and the couple flew toward mango tree no.1. As usual the crow was in a pleasant mood. The cuckoo too had been very happy after a long time but the remark the crow had made in the National Park haunted her mind. While he was in his amorous gestures the cuckoo asked him, ‘Dear Kag, I understood almost whatever you said, but the last one ‘…and the West Indies in India I am’ I couldn’t really understand.

The crow again did that smile. It was his habit. He explained, ‘It means crow in cuckoo’s heart.’ Still it was beyond cuckoo’s understanding. She scratched her wings to get it.

The crow said, ‘You mean to ask that what a small heart can take in?’ He moved on a branch and sat there. He said, ‘The West Indies in India means Vivian Richards in Nina Gupta’s heart, and that am I…’

The crow danced in the glee. ‘How smart you are, my dear Kag!’

And with such words she hugged him. She pressed her heart to his. In a broken voice, taking her beak into his beak he said, ‘For this intimate moment I had kept myself away from milk. Since you showed your displeasure on that day I understood that the time is nearing for milk. To welcome those moments they all had come with milk and porridge and such sweets. I was offered all those things. Moreover it was also the farewell ceremony of the camp. I had organised it for geese to teach the art of walking.’

Both of them laughed. Open heartedly laughed. He said, ‘Even though there’s no Shraddha period we both shall go to Europe. There I will start taking milk once again.’

‘But first of all tell me will you ever now go away from your Radha?’

The crow spoke, ‘As I am black in my practice, I am also black in my principles.’

And the cuckoo felt that her sweet voice immersed in his voice.


Harish Mahuvakar, ‘Ame’, 3/A, 1929, Near Nandalay Haveli, Sardarnagar, Bhavnagar 364002, Gujarat, India. +91 9426 22 35 22, Email: harishmahuvakar@gmail.com

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