When you grow up in a village, you invariably grow up, alongside, some lovely animals and birds, too. So, throughout my childhood, I remember growing up alongside a couple of dogs, cats, chicken, cows, oxen, buffaloes and, even pigs. We had scores of fishes in our wells and ponds.  These were there not as pets, but as part and parcel of our existence. Rather, it was our co-existence… That was how it was for every household around. The concept of keeping pets at home came much later… when the standard of living of families started improving… When money came home, the cows, oxen, dogs, cats, pigs and chicken, which once lived with us ‘just like that’ – yes, they were all out and made room for some 'classy' breed of dogs, cats, fishes, parrots, and turtles.

Here, in Mumbai, obviously, one can only think of keeping some pets, if he loves to. Kids, here, will never know what it means to grow up alongside cows, buffaloes, oxen, chicken, dogs, cats, goats, fishes and pigs… So, they have started calling such an existence by a very ‘expensive’ name: ‘Organic’!

In those days, we never dreamt, that the same leafy vegetable, bhindi, kakdi, melons, doodi, pumpkin, bobla, chilies, drum sticks, suran, baigan, tomatoes, karela, sweet potatoes, jack fruits, coconuts, mangoes, cashews, papayas, bananas, pineapples, berries, and a dozen other fruits and veggies – one day, here in these big cities – would be crowned as ‘organic’… and, yes, would fetch three-four times more price compared to the one we grew in our backyards and fields… yes, ‘just like that’!

Well, this Post is not about village dogs versus city dogs, or village crows versus city crows. No one   in our village had crows at home. They came in plenty to eat whatever they got to eat in and around our houses… When they were thirsty, they went to the ponds. But, I remember learning the story of the thirst crow in my first standard (Our schooling started directly at the age of 6 in first standard!). I had not imagined, that this story would help me put my English in place, many years later… Like this:

There was a crow. He was very thirsty. He searched for water everywhere. But, he found no water anywhere. At last, he saw a pot. It had little water. His beak could not reach the water. So, he got an idea… He brought little pebbles and dropped them in the pot. The water came up and up and up… The crow drank the water and flew away happily.

I also learnt to tell that crow story in present tense. Like this:

There is a crow. He is very thirsty. He searches for water everywhere. But, he finds no water anywhere. At last, he sees a pot. It has little water. His beak cannot reach the water. So, he gets an idea. He brings little pebbles and drops them in the pot. The water comes up and up and up. The crow drinks the water and flies away happily.

Thirst crow was my first story at school, in my village. It still is here in our great cities, even today, for our new-age kids. That’s something nice… Crow still inspires even though no one likes to raise him at home as a ‘pet’… Sadly, he will never, ever become ‘organic’!

Summer has already started… It is extremely hot outside. Outside my ground-floor office, I have placed a small bucket to collect the AC water. Two-three crows have been visiting here,  every day, for last two weeks to sip chilled water from that bucket. When the bucket is empty, they are desperate and toss away my bucket. I have to go out, understand their plight… be empathetic to them… realize the truth that there are no ponds around here… So, I have to keep the bucket out there filled with water. They just need a few sips… It is a delight to watch them quenching their thirst… and flying away happily.

Through the day, my friend Buzzo, who is our colony dog (No one calls him a street dog), comes to drink the chilled water from the bucket. If the bucket is empty, he stands outside my glass door and draws my attention… A few Marie biscuits and cold water later, he goes away happily, too…

To me, this is what an ‘Organic Life’, all about... Just wanted to tell.


Pic.: Sandeep Malhotra


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