Yesterday, I was out for a walk to Carter Road around 6:15 in the morning. It was still dark and a half-chewed moon shone alone in the sky. I walked up the Zig-zag road, glancing up at the moon. Through leaves, it looked latticed and funny. Like a half-eaten pearl in a lace pouch. By the time I’d reached Carter Road, the sun was just rising. The black-blue color had started getting diluted with the morning light. The world was getting brighter.
The promenade was scarcely peppered with people. The serious joggers had moved on ahead, and the people doing tai-chi made their fluid movements slowly. The fishermen were setting up their boats. Some of them were reeling in fish already. Vegetable vendors were polishing up their bright yellow and red bell-peppers and thick tomatoes. It had all the markings of an ordinary day.
And then it got scary.
An old man, carrying a bag of scraps or food, crossed over the balustrade to go to the rocks. The sea had not yet receded by then. But as the man walked deeper on to the rocks, the sky (that was practically baby-bue now) suddenly got overcast. And the world got noisy…it got filled with these raucious shrieks, you’d think someone was pulling out nails and eyelashes of people tied to stakes. The world, literally, got dark. So dark that you could hardly see a patch of sky. There was a blanket of crows swooping and gliding towards the man with the food. The sky was overcast with crows. If one ever needed a picture of doom, this was it. That noise – it was terrifying! I actually stood rooted to the spot. I couldn’t move an inch because so many, many crows were cawing and swirling about me. I felt like a hapless victim in a Hitchcock film – ‘Birds’ I think it was. They could’ve killed me. I was sure of that. I turned to see if the man was safe on the rocks. I think he’s a regular. He had calmly set down the food in the middle of some rocks and waited. It was a most horrific sight. He stood there, small and slouched, in the middle of this craggy landscape. And every inch of every rock had a crow on it. It’s like the horizon only had these dark birds and the sea. There was no such thing as land.
I walked a little while after that and got back home. Until now – and it’s nearly twelve hours later, I can still hear that bloodcurdling sound in my head. And the sight of the black, winged seige has dug itself into my brain now.
I wondered if the word ‘crowd’ comes from ‘crow’. It’s possible. Because one person and two people and a hundred people in an organized fashion is manageable. But when they gather…when they amass indiscriminately and descend like the way they did today…that kind of unruliness could have probably originated from the social habit of this bird.
I tried to read up on it. I didn’t find any such reference. I did come across a zinger, though.
A group of crows is called…‘a murder’.