The Crowning Mou
A tribute to the ‘ The Crowning Mou.’
This crow needs a golden crown more than humans….
“Did you say ‘The Crowning Mou’?”
Ha ha ha… Gotcha…. It is not The Crowning Mou it is The Mourning Crow. I am ashamed to say, this humble-simple black crow shamed my family, me and may be all of us. Moreover, should I/we learn some thing from it? Any way its behavior touched me and I think should be an example for all of us (or should it?) and hence this journal.
Third day of last week I received a telephone call from one of my cousins informing that an aunty of ours had passed away. She was a sweet woman of 87, handsome, full of love and smiles etc. etc.., a favorite among the very few valued old timers remaining in our family. I was happy though sad because when I was young I was one of her favorites even with my childhood eccentricities and because it was in rather good health and without much suffering except for some ear and knee problems that she left us. In addition, another reason was that she knew my wife since from her infancy. Aunty and late uncle were great friends of my wife’s parents while they were together in Bahrain in the 1950’s. When my sweet wife haughtily quarreled for ‘foreign sari and folding umbrella’, (a craze at those times when she was in her teens) it was to them that my mother in law turned to put in the request and my wife got her first sari. The umbrella her younger sister possessed. Thus, my wife also had a personal attachment to aunty even before she became my wife. Aunty also had put in good words about my wife to my mom, which enhanced the formalities of our marriage. Therefore, Auntie’s demise was personal loss to both of us. We decided it would not be proper if we did not attend the funeral. However, the date for the funeral had yet to be decided for the convenience of auntie’s daughters who were away in Bangalore. And so, till they came every body left aunty to cool herself in the freezer which is one thing that I am totally against because I am with the old tradition that a dead body should belong to mother earth with in twenty four hours after its life has left it. It was not happy visuals that I had during the following nights seeing aunty lying frozen stiff in the mortuary tray. I felt sad that I was helpless. No way would I have let that happen to my mother, to the hell with any relatives. That decision would be mine.
Next day morning I was warming up for the day reading the newspaper with my morning coffee and cigarette on our veranda. Our maid servant was watering the plants in the front yard when suddenly the crows turned violent and one of them started attacking her. Her shoo shoos did not deter the crows, rather made them more aggressive. Looking around she found the reason, there was a crow badly wounded under the refuge of a bush. She cried out to me and I went out to investigate and I got pecked too. I asked her to do the watering later after the crow would go away and tried to return to my reading. I could not. The crows didn’t go away either. After an hour or so, the calamity of the crows had subsided and I went to check. The crow had died and its mate (/mama/child?) was watching from up a tree branch. Warding off the crow clans attacks, I moved the carcass to the far end of the yard to bury later. Later in the evening I buried it right there while my wife stayed guard. The day ended, night took over to disturb my sleep with visions of my ‘freezing aunty’.
I saw the ‘mate crow’ again next morning perched on the high up electric wire, looking down; its searching head crooked this way and slanted that way, calling out in mourn all the while. The next and following days mornings and evenings were not different. I was really touched by the bonding these creatures had, which we call ‘soulless’ and my thoughts went back to my aunty. Had my nieces arrived? Were they mourning? I called up. Yes, they had arrived on Saturday and the funeral was set for the next Wednesday for several reasons, one week after aunty died! I cursed my visions of aunty in the freezer that I was getting every night. Tuesday I phoned again to know about the timings of the funeral. The body would be brought home only on Wednesday at 11.00 am, just three hours prior to the funeral prayers that was to start at 2.00 pm!! I could still hear the ‘wailing cry’ of a crow out in the front while I hang up the phone.
The bereaved house didn’t actually have the ‘right mood’ of a forever departing loving one. I went in to pay my last respects. There she was, more ‘fresh’ than while she was alive lying in the glass mobile mortuary. My nieces and nephews were there but I didn’t see any grief of bereavement in them or in the crowd. I really felt sad and stepped out. Things were not much different there too. Every body was happily chatting away and if I found any grief there, they were only on the faces of the neighbors probably because of auntie’s ‘open-heart-and-hand’ relationship with them, mostly poor non Christians. I found a chair way back from where I could watch the crowd, crowds interests me. Everything was there except grief. And I didn’t think they didn’t show it because they believed aunty was going to Heaven. That, it seemed nobody cared to bother.
Prayers started much earlier and the body was taken to the church and cemetery ahead of the scheduled time. While sadly watching the happenings, my wife’s enquiring whisper “Shall we go?” behind my back brought me back to reality. Her eyes told me she was having my same thoughts. Auntie’s last journey from her dear house left in procession and we left too for home. We didn’t think aunty would mind our absence, she would be watching.
While driving back we discussed the fate of old people. My wife also had my same feeling about aunt’s last leaving of her house. We both were in unison that aunty deserved a more sincere, passionate, and affectionate farewell. What could we do?! These things are not available in the supermarket! May be it was our deep love for her that put us both in disappointment. In between the music from the car stereo and our silence I could hear our crow’s ‘crownigs’ – “Kra” “kra” and reached home before sunset and I settled on the veranda in my favorite chair with my coffee cup, cigarette and my clipboard to continue what I was writing. But the now familiar “kra” “kra” interrupted my thoughts. I reached my head out to see. Yes it was the same crow still mourning the ‘other crow’ consecutively on the sixth day, sincerely! Instead of continuing what I was writing, my pen pencil started writing….
A tribute to the ‘… The Crowning Mou’
This crow needs a golden crown more than humans…
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dilipcherianpallath – June, 2011