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The crow’s message

The attack was so abrupt and unexpected that I had no time to react. I heard a commotion just behind me, the cawing and the urgent flapping of the wings, and the beak was frighteningly close. I knew the angry crow was about to peck at the back of my head. In panic, I ran ahead. I was on my usual leisurely morning walk, soaking in the sights of nature. But the crow will have none of it. Determined to protect its nestling which had fallen on the footpath, the bird attacked anyone getting close.

In the rush, I had a harsh fall. Moving like a dart at my advanced age was sheer thoughtlessness, but there was no time to think while saving my head from an angry crow. By the time I got up, the crow had disappeared finding me a harmless human, but all I could see was gushing blood on my hands. My entire palm was covered with blood and the best I could do was to cover it with my kerchief and rush home.

That is when our son, who had fortunately come to work from home in the quiet of our house, took over. He took me into his car and in no time, we were in the casualty section of a nearby hospital. The skilful nurses stopped the blood flow, and after disinfecting the wound, waited for the doctor. An experienced surgeon came soon after, took a look, enquired the how and where, and set about stitching the wound and setting the lacerated flesh back in position. He said I was lucky there was no fracture, but warned that if infection set in, he might have to cut off the finger.

Detached contemplation

I watched the whole drama in a detached way, as if it was happening to another person. My mind was busy recalling another incident, something similar which happened years ago when we were posted in Delhi. My son must have been eight or nine. While playing in the school compound with his classmates, he met with an accident and came home with severe pain on his shoulder. I took him to the nearest hospital where the doctor took an X-ray and found a fracture on his shoulder bone. He was given an injection to relieve the pain and antibiotics and advised rest for a couple of weeks. His tender age must have been the saving grace, as he recovered in no time and was back at the playfield in a few days.

So, when does a child take over from parents in a role reversal? To my surprise, I saw without any remorse the kind doctor interacting with my son on the post-care requirements, ignoring me altogether. After all, as professed by William Wordsworth, the child is the father of the man, though said in a different context!

The law of nature for growing old prompts one to pass on responsibilities to the next generation as a matter of course, and a time comes when one feels happy to see someone else taking on the burdens of life from one’s shoulders. The crow that was the cause of my misery was only protecting its offspring, but will its baby ever come to its help in its old age? Perhaps, nature has devised its own ways to protect the species. Humans are the helpless beings, but have the consolation that their progeny, just as they take years to grow up, may accept the role of protecting the older generation when the time comes. Let us hope so.

thayyil_sethumadhavan@yahoo.com


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 3:07:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-crows-message/article34985288.ece

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