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These are the literary forms of short stories or folk tales. They may be in prose or poetry ending with moral or religious lessons to the listeners or readers. Sources of these forms can be sought out from the religious books. Sometimes, the roots of these stories cannot be traced out as they might have been narrated by unknown authors or fabulists. Both these may seem to be the same as wisdom and characterbuilding stories, but there is a thin distinguishing linein their characteristics. Generally, ‘Parable’ is having human characters, but ‘Fable’ has the variety of characters other than humans such as animals, plants, objects etcetera. What they may be, but they are as our heritage going on one generation to another.
Aesop of fifth century B.C., an Africanslaveformerly and then freed was the mostpopular fabulist and his fables have spreadthroughout the world. The parables of Christ and many other derived from ancient Greek and Sanskrit literature have remained the part of our early childhooddevelopmentat our homes or in our schools. Elders are also equally interested in these stories either forinsistent demand of their children to be narrated to them or for the sake of their own pleasure. Presently, we can avail thousands of books on parables and fables, but their roots are in preliterate oral cultures.
Recently, I chanced toview an interesting Article based on the famous fable of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. Its end is well known to all that the tortoise wins the race against the hare. The morallesson is as ‘A slow and steady wins the race.’ We all have grown up with hearing this popular version, but the same fable is extended in a different twist. The second race is arranged with the request of the hare and this time, the hare wins and moral lesson is as ‘Fast and consistentwill always beat the slow and steady.’ Further, the tortoise challenges the hare for the third race with a different route where there is a river just beforefinal destination. This time, the tortoise wins the race and moral lesson is as ‘First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.’ But the story still continues. Both the competitors know their own drawbacks and limitations very well and therefore they jointly decide to do the last race again; not to decide any winner or loser, but just for their own pleasure and satisfaction. Both co-operate each other as a team. Firstly, the hare carries the tortoise on its back up to the river. Then, the tortoise carries the hare and swims to the oppositebank of the river. And, lastly the hare carries the tortoise again on its back. Thus they reach the finishing linetogether. Overall to say, many moral lessons from the last match are highlighted. They may be named as team work, to harnessindividual’s capacity for greater success, to face the adverse situations with collective decisions, qualities of a good leadership, ability of turning failure to success, changing of strategy to try something different and the last very important to compete against situations rather than rivals.
Above Article has inspired me totry any other familiar fable to be narrated differently or extended interestingly and humorously or twisted in an anti-climax mode of end. I have preferred a story ‘A smart crow’ to try it with other than above three options. I have made up my mind, now, to fabricate a postdiscussion of the episode of the above story in form of conversation among the crows. But before that, let us overview this story in its originaltext that we had read in our primers of our primaryeducation years. It is as below:
“Once there was a crow. It was very thirsty. It flew here and there in search of water. Lastly, it saw a pitcher on the ground. It put its head inside. The neck of the pitcher was too long and slender. Water level was very deep. Its beak could not reach the water. It looked around and saw some pebbles nearby. It got an idea. It picked up the pebbles one by one and threw them into the pitcher. As the pebbles went inside, the water level rose up. Soon it came up to the mouth of the pitcher. Thus, it quenched its thirst. It flew back at its nest and told its friends how smart it was. MORAL: Answers to great problems often come from unexpected sources.”
William Cleary has retold Aesop’s many unforgettable stories in the form of poetry. ‘The thirsty crow gets good advice’ is a poem written by him in a different presentation. Here, I am not going to representit as the limitedspace in this Article does not permit me to do so.
Let us go, now, to the unofficial gathering of the crows in the thicket in the compound of Internationally famous ‘Indian Institute of Management (IIM)’ at Ahmedabad (India). These are the home trees of the crows participating in the post discussion on the episode of the above referred fable ‘A smart crow’. It is said that the environment is the best natural teacher for the learner. Here is the environment of the Management Studies where the crows dwell. The crows have acquired a very good knowledge from the discussions of the students sitting under the trees. Their (crows’) conversation is as follows:
“Today, I heard an interesting story of a fore-father of ours narrated by a human mother to her kid while I wassitting in the Nimb tree there. How clever that our fore-father was! How smartly he drank water from the pitcher!” said a crow.
“No doubt, it was a wonderful work. But, he could have tried by some other way rather than that of a laborious job.” the other crow replied.
“What sort of other way, my child?” said an old crow.
“He would have made a hole on the sidewall of the pitcher by poking with his beak!”
“No, No way! It is a foolish idea. We have no righttodamagethe property of others. Moreover, there would have been the wastage of plenty of water contrary to the use of very little water for a single thirsty bird.” said the old crow.
“Damage of property! What a foolish talk! Don’t we see the students doing so when they are on strike damaging the national property in ways of burning buses, rooting out rail tracks etc.?’
The old crow said, “What they people do is not our look out. But, I honestly believe that such destructive activity is against the ethics of our community of Crows. The earthen pot might be belonged to perhaps a very poor man and why, justfor some drops of water, should we do such a major damage? Remember that the Gentle-crows never behave so.”
“Will you, please, throw light what we should do in such situation?” asked a very young crow with curiosity.
“You should tryto find out some other sources of water by flying here and there a little more before undertaking such laborious job. Presence of pitcher with water there is the great evidence that there must be the water somewhere nearby.” the old crow replied.
In between, a female crow entered the discussionafter finishing her feeding of some grains to her young one and said, “Excuse me for my comment on our ancestors. But, should our honorable forefather not offer his discovered water to other crows to drink besides simply his own praise?”
A quite grown up young crow that was an outspokenbird and against feminism also fired the poor female crow angrily and said, “When the males are talking, you females should not interfere, understand?”
All the crows cried out loudly saying, “Shame, shame! You should not behave like this towards the females. After all they are also poor creature being, the half population of ours and therefore they have the equalrightas we have in all fields of our life.”
A witty crow taunted the Indian Political Parties in these words, “We are not like those Politicians who are not prepared to allow even 33% Reservation in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies to the women. Actually, they must have 50% Reservation instead of 33%.” All crows cawed out joyfully.
The old crow who was the Chief of his community in the IIMCampus shouted loudly in the style of a Speaker of Parliament, “Order, Order! Now let us come to the point raised on ‘offering of water to others’. My inner soul tells me that the fabulist or the narrator might have missed to point out this matter. It is also possible that during the course of uncountable centuries, the people would have dropped down this point. I don’t believe that our forefathers would have been so selfish like human being. To share the benefits of one’s own labor with others is the great mottoof our crow community. Human capitalists snatch away the benefits from labor of others and they get rich and rich leaving thousands behind to live below poverty line(BPL). Any way, our today’s discussion has remained very interesting. We unanimously agree with the smartness of our forefather who has been a mentor for human kind also for centuries. The episode shows how one should utilize own intellect in adverse circumstances. It is the dusk now. Let us pay our homage to the Late our Forefather, the Hero of the fable ‘A smart crow’ by keeping silence for two minutes.”
And lastly, the old crow announced, “Our formalmeeting is now adjourned. It is the time for our meditation. Good night to all.’
I also bid goodbye to all my Readers, meanwhile
With best regards,
– Valibhai Musa
Dtd.: June 5, 2008