Bijay J Anand | October 4, 2016
She was the apple of his eye. He always thought about how incomplete his day would ever be if he had to not wake up to the sight of her snuggled up in her bed and breathing ever so softly with a hint of a smile across her face. It was a sight that gave him all the elixir he needed to have a beautiful day ahead.
Of course she’d grow up one day. She’d marry and belong to the one who’d have taken her as a life partner. But he knew that even then every cell in his heart would beat for his love and profound affection that he had for her. He knew also that it would be like this till the day he breathed his last.
Her name was Sayyonee and she was already at an age where she had started asking a lot of questions. “Too many!” as Samahira his wife would smile fondly and say. But he had all the time in the world to answer every question that ever formed in his beloved daughters mind, sometimes even before the question even fully formed in Sayyonee’s little head.
They lived on the outskirts of Mumbai. They were a small colony of crows that had decided to settle out of the chaotic city even though there was plenty of garbage everywhere in Mumbai itself. Garbage, carcasses, rotting food was all that they needed. It was just the noise that Arrjan and his small colony of which he was the head wanted to get away from. The incessant honking that seemed never to stop and keep growing by the day. And night. So one fine day Arrjan took a stance and decided for all under his watch that they’d move outside the city.
As his little princes stirred to life at the break of the dawn Arrjan yet again felt the slight ache in his heart that only one who has loved completely would ever understand. She opened her eyes and smiled at him, whispering a soft, “daddy” that made his a little giddy with warmth and affection.
Sometime during the course of that day, in the wet rainy month of August, something spectacular happened. From out of nowhere, a beautiful peacock appeared on the same peepul tree that was home to the Arrjans and took to one of the branches perched high above. As he surveyed his new surroundings his eyes locked with Sayyonee and he couldn’t help but soften and smiled at the little child.
Sayyonee on the other hand could not help but simply gawk at the marvelous creature in front of her as never before had she ever lay sight on another flying creature of such great beauty.
Moved by the obvious display of her innocent admiration, the peacock whispered a blessing to her from afar and with a resplendent flourish flew away back to wherever he had magically appeared from.
And for the first time in his life, Arrjan saw a hint of sadness in his daughters beautiful eyes.
“Why are we so ugly daddy?” She asked him. “I have heard the koels and they have such a beautiful voice. The parrots are even able to imitate humans and birds like the paradise flycatcher, golden oriole and myna are so beautiful. Why did God hate us so much that he neither gave us the joy of physical beauty and gave us crows such an ugly squawk as a voice that nobody ever wants to hear us. Tell me please daddy, why? Why does God hate us so much?”
Arrjan was always expecting this question out of his little one. It was a question that every little crow had in their growing years. Why were they so very ugly that no one even in their dreams would consider them beautiful? And why did they have a voice that was considered the worst sound in the universe?
His eyes softened as he looked at her. They reflected his affection for her along with something that always made Sayyonee admire and adore her beloved father even more, a deep and profound wisdom. The very same wisdom that earned him the respect of his clan and had him elected as their supreme leader.
And with that love and wisdom in his eyes he said to her,
“My dear beloved, it is not God that decided to give us our looks that most would call ugly. It was not God that gave us a voice that is a croak that nobody wants to hear. It was we who chose to embody both of these curses to live a free and happy life”.
Sayyonee had never been more puzzled in her entire life, short as her little life had been. She gasped, “We chose this? Why??”
“Since we were the one of the last creatures to be created by the Divine, we had the time and opportunity to look at what had happened to the beautifully divine creatures HE had already created before us.
Humans have a very bad habit of destroying everything that is beautiful in this world. If, for any reason he doesn’t choose to destroy it, he wants to own it. We saw this first within the animal kingdom where humans would destroy beautiful animals for fun and sport or kill them as trophies to have their beautiful skins hang in his living room. And then we saw the beautiful birds that were so attractive that humans wanted to own them to show them off in cages and the zoos that they had created to showcase their beauty. When the koels saw this ugly truth unfolding before their eyes, they chose to remain ugly so that they were not captured for their beauty but they made one fatal mistake. In their quest for retaining some form of vanity, they chose to have a beautiful and mellifluous voice.
And humans trapped the koels and caged them to hear their melodious voice all day long.
When it was our turn to choose, we chose freedom and happiness over beauty for the sake of vanity and pride. No human ever wants to cage us to show us off as beautiful possessions and neither do they desire us for our singing capabilities. They simply let us be. Leaving us alone to live our life. Something that humans have never ever allowed any other creature to do. Whether in the sea, river, land or air, humans have decimated, destroyed and ruined every other creature on this planet. Let alone other creatures, humans portend to be the destroyers of their own race. Being the sole reason why this world would finally end. A race that doesn’t love his own self nor his own kind, how and why should we expect him to love anyone else?
This, my dear beloved is the reason why we chose to be ugly and willingly chose our croaks as our voice. We chose freedom over cages, life above vanity and happiness over beautiful looks.”
As she looked at her doting father and thought over his reply to her query, Sayyonee looked around her at her very own colony of crows flying in a frenzy all around her and she finally understood what her father had told her a few days ago, “real beauty is not in how you look. Real beauty is something that radiates from the heart and your soul. When you are beautiful thus, the whole world smiles back at you and loves you. When you are beautiful thus, you make your world beautiful around you. And when your heart shines with love and compassion, your world around you smiles too”.