Conversation with a Raven
By Chandroo D.

Middle of January 2009 and I am in Perth, W. Australia, on a short trip alone.  This is the time when Western Australia has a normal heat wave with temperature soaring up to high 30s Celsius during the day sometimes.  Fortunately, the evenings are cooler.

It’s Sunday morning around 7am and I am on my regular routine walk in my backyard which incidentally is approximately 400 hectares Kings Park.  I walk up and down the slopes along a path which overlooks the grand and tranquil Swan River. The sun is up already and the path is full of walkers and joggers panting away with perspiration.  An average Australian is very health conscience here and it is normal to find many groups of friends going through a rigorous exercise workout, similar to what the army and navy forces would go through.   After an hour of pleasant walk, I detour into the park to have breakfast at a café called, ‘Stickybeak’ just next to a children’s play area.  I order scrambled eggs on a toast and a long Macchiato to go with it.

I collect my breakfast tray and sit at a table for four facing the playground.  Just as I settle down, a black Raven with shiny black feathers boldly perches on the back of the opposite chair.  He has a long pointed beak and stares at me with an inquisitive look.  His head moves repeatedly sideways left and right like a break dancer.

I: “What do you want my dear fellow”
Raven: “Caw!”

I: “I guess you want my food.  Right, you scavenger?”
Raven: “Caw”

I: - “In order to communicate, let’s get this straight.  One caw means YES and two caws means NO.  Comprende?”
Raven: “Caw”

I:-“Looking at your sharp long beak, is this café, Stickybeak named after you?”
Raven: “Caw”

I: “Now we understand each other.  Fine! The other thing is - I am going to start whispering to you.  Otherwise, the others around me who are already smiling pitifully at me now think I am a dodo talking to you”
Raven: “Caw”

I: “There are many who believe you and your pals are incarnation of mankind and also messengers from up above bringing in good or bad tidings.  Is it true?”
At this moment, the Raven screamingly somersaults and screeches, “Caw, Caw”.

I: “You are laughing at me aren’t you?
Raven: “Caw”

I: “Great, at least I now know that I will not be an ugly irritating raven like you, when I am out of this world.  However, seriously, just yesterday, a friend of mine claimed that he was looking for a sign from up above before he could venture into a project and voila; a black feather, probably yours, flew right in front of him.  He is now enthralled with this dramatic approval sign from up above through you. Were you kidding?
Raven: “Caw”

I: “What a life you have – flying freely over this remarkable expanse of Kings Park’s unique bushland and picking up from all the leftover food people leave behind.  You have got it made, mate! Right? ”.
Raven: “Caw”

I: “Also living in Australia, you are lucky no one takes potshots at you.  Try flying freely and making all the noise in China or India and you are a definite target, mate”.

At this time, just across the lawn, I notice four hopping ravens taunting a terrier with their repeated screeching “Caws”.  The terrier eyes them with an angry look and suddenly leaps forward, barks and chases them away.  While this show repeats again, another smaller sized Raven flies in and sits next to my new found mate.

I: - “Your soul mate?”
Raven: “Caw” and then he lovingly rubs his beak against the new comer’s beak.

I: “Unfortunately, since my soul mate is not with me, I cannot do what you just did. Are you hungry?”
Raven: “Caw”

I: “You see the sign behind you, which clearly reads ‘please do not feed the birds’?
Raven: “Caw Caw”

I: “Of course, you cannot read but look at you fatso!  In comparison to your slim Asian breed, you should be on a diet!  I am discreetly, leaving a slice of bread for you and your mate away from the restaurant .  Follow me and enjoy”

At this stage, he started poking his chest like Woody Woodpecker, as if to say, “Move on Dodo, so I can eat!”

 

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself". Lois McMaster Bujold