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In the last ten years I have been staying here, there has been no dispute over the ownership of this house. I use the term ownership loosely here, since we are only tenants. But you know what I mean, we pay the rent, so house and the terrace which sits on top of the house, belong to us for the duration. Or so I thought, till the crows told me otherwise.

For almost six months it rained. Walking on the open terrace was impossible. Moss on the cement surface made the stairs and the floor slippery. Unless you wanted to have a fall, it was well avoided. When the rains ceased, I happily ascended the stairs clutching my water bottle and phone (for the music and/or podcasts), and what do I find? A lone crow sitting on the half wall. That’s okay. Crows are welcome to sit on the half wall, the water tank, the light fixture, the dish antennae…or atop the many trees around. But this one seemed agitated that I was there at all. It cawed, flew from one spot to another, and generally behaved oddly. I was not too concerned. It would learn I meant no harm and calm down I thought, naively it seems in hindsight.

The crow continued cawing, trying to intimidate me. The whole thing mystified me. Though I hadn’t noticed any, perhaps there was a crow nest somewhere around, I surmised. Nothing for it but to wait for the crow to realize I didn’t mean it harm, that all I would do is walk up and down for half an hour. But even after a week, the crow seemed jittery. It even brought along a friend for moral support. I ignored them and went about my business of walking, though Luci who happened to be with me one day wasn’t too pleased about their ganging up against her mother. She rarely climbs all the way up these days, but when she does, she takes my security seriously. No crows were going to talk that way to her mother, not on her watch.

Then, one fine day, I changed my routine. Giving up evening walks, I started walking in the mornings. This meant I went up to the terrace even before the crows, when it was still dark. So I was already walking when the day dawned and the sleepy crow sitting all hunched up on the nearest tree opened its eye drowsily and saw me. I was mercifully left alone. But on some days, I am late for my walk having been up late typing out blog posts. The eastern sky would already have turned pearl gray and the laziest of crows shaken off sleep. The crows then spot me and swoop down to sit on the wall, flapping their wings, cawing, almost as if telling me that I was trespassing. I ignored them again.

Today morning I was even later than usual. The crow was already waiting for me when I went upstairs. It cawed repetitively, and soon a couple of its cronies flew in to lend support. Before long there were a dozen or more crows on the wall, all of them cawing insistently and creating such a racket that I could not hear the podcast I was listening to and was forced to rewind it again and again. Now I was getting really pissed off with the annoying crows. I keep water for them (not on the terrace, but on the roof of the outhouse), I also feed them scraps. And the ungrateful whatchamacallits instead of considering me a friend were dictating terms to me on my own terrace. Our terrace, woman. Go away.

Like hell I was going to go away! I decided then and there that I was going to write and let the world know about their wickedness. Trying to oust me from my own terrace! Me, who has always been kind to them, also taken their pictures. Gah. I fished the phone out of my pocket and walked right up to the villains. They flew off in a huff not wanting their faces captured, and settled on the roof next-door. But the leader, the one on the dish antennae stood its ground, only flying off at the last minute. If one day a crime is committed, and someone finds a pecked-to-death body, the police will not have to look far for the answer to who committed the crime. The picture is right here.

© Shail Mohan 2021