( a story for ages 4 to 7)
By Shipra Shukla
The cuckoo’s voice is as sweet as can be and this is the story of a cuckoo bird which had the most melodious voice in the world. The cuckoo bird would sit on the branches of a tree and sing ‘koo, koo’, with not a care in the world. But, one day her life turned up side down because lying in her nest was her egg. Oh God! cuckoo screamed , what is going to happen to my carefree life now? My whole life will be wasted looking after this child. The cuckoo thought and thought. What should I do? And then an idea flashed in her mind just like a lightning flashes across the sky. She jumped with joy. Why don’t I take this egg to the other end of the jungle and leave it in mother crow’s nest? Mother crow already has four eggs and what does she know to do besides housework? She can’t sing like the cuckoo or dance like the beautiful peacock. In a trice the cuckoo bird picked up her egg and flew off to the other side of the jungle.
When she reached see saw that the Mother crow was sitting on her four eggs waiting for them to hatch. The clever cuckoo bird quietly slipped in her four eggs under Mother Crow and flew off.
Some time later after the clever cuckoo had flown off the four eggs which Mother crow was hatching started to crack. A little later four baby crows were shouting, “Caw, caw, caw,” as they were hungry and wanted Mother Crow to get them food. Mother Crow tried to explain to them that, ‘Children, please be patient. There is just tiny egg left to hatch. As soon as it hatches I will get something to eat and drink for all five of you.” Just as she was telling this the little egg hatched and a little bird hopped out of it and sat on the edge of the nest and said, ‘Coo.” Mother crow and her four baby crows’ beaks fell open in surprise. Where ever did this ‘Coo’ sound come from in between the sound of the ‘caw, caw.’ Now, how were they to know that this little bird was not Mother crow’s child but the clever cuckoo’s baby.
Time flew by and the four crows and little cuckoo bird grew up. Mother crow rushed around trying to get them in a good school. While she was hunting for a good school she met a music teacher, a Mr. Tar- Tar, who was frog who spent his free time teaching the animals of the jungle how to sing. But till now he had not got any work because the children were scared of his loud voice. But Mother Crow loved his loud voice and she appointed Mr. Tar- Tar to teach her children how to sing. And then, what do you think happened. Every morning Mr. Tar- Tar would come hopping to Mother Crow’s nest and made her five children practice their sings under the shade of the tree. He even changed the name of the four crows and gave them names from the seven notes of music , Do, ray, me, fa, so, la, ti, do. Now the crows name was Do-ray, Me-fa, So-la, Ti-do. The last note of Ti-do’s name was the first note of when the first note of music starts, only it is higher now. That is why Ti-do’s voice was very sharp and shrill and when he sang all the animals of the jungle went wild. Since all the notes of music had been given to the four crows there was no note left for the little cuckoo bird. So Mr. Tar-Tar named her Melody which is what music and the seven notes of music are all about.
The animals of the jungle were really fed up with Mr. Tar-Tar’s music classes. So Peter Parrot, Mr. Peek-a- boo peacock, Banana-Drama monkey, Flow-Jo deer, Mr. Tittle -Turtle and all the other creatures of the jungle got together and had a meeting to discuss how to free the jungle of the noise of Mr. Tar-tar’s music classes. Many plans were made and many ideas were given but they really couldn’t think of any good solution. In the end it was decided that all the animals would sit-down below Mother Crow’s nest and not move till they either stopped the ‘caw caw’ of the crows and the ‘tar-tar’ of the frog or they would throw them out of the jungle.
And that is what happened. Mr. Tar-tar would not budge so Mother Crow as asked to leave the jungle along with her five children and the Mr. Tar-tar. Mother Crow was also very stubborn. She did not like that anyone should interfere in the education and progress of her children. So she packed her bags and left to find a new place where she could start a new life, a place where no one could bully them and they were free to do what they wanted to do.
Mother crow, her children and Mr. Tar-tar roamed here and there for a long time till they came to a town which was full of rats running here and there and troubling everyone. Rats of every kind had got together and were bothering everyone. Sometimes they would eat up the food, sometimes they would gnaw the clothes, and sometimes they would bite the little babies. The people of the town were fed up. How does one get rid of these pesky rids, they just didn’t know what to do? That is why they announced a reward that whoever got the town rid of these rats would be given whatever they wanted.
In this very same town lived Melody’s mother, the same cuckoo bird who had left Melody when she was very small in Mother Crow’s nest. And now she lived comfortably in a golden cage. Here, too, she had no work to do but she had also stopped flying. Now she only eat and sat in her cage sang, ‘Koo, koo.’ Since she did not move around much she had become fat and because she had no work to do she was a little crazy. Now if you don’t use your brains to do any work it is going to affect your mind, right? And, instead of singing, ‘Koo, koo’ she had started to sing, ‘Kuk, kuk,kuk, kuk,kuk,’
When Mother crow and her team reached town they were weak with hunger and very thirsty. Mother crow could not bear to see her children in this state. And Mr. tar-Tar who was as round as a balloon was now as thin as needle. Now, Mother Crow, did not wait even for a second, with her beak she killed three four rats, made them into patties and fed them to her children and Mr. Tar –Tar. After this there was no problem for Mother Crow and her team began to live happily in the town. Everyday they would kill a few rats and eat them up. After some time, Do-ray, Me-fa, So-la and Ti-do also became expert in killing rats and the rats were running here and there in fear for their lives. They were in a real state and they started talking about leaving town.
The people of the town were very happy. They did not want Mother Crow and her team to leave town ever so they began to give them many gifts. Mother crow told them, “I don’t want anything but I want my children’s music to be remembered for ever and ever. So, can you make a tape of my children’s music so that I can play it for the animals of the jungle who had thrown us out of the jungle because of our singing class.”
The people of the town were only too happy to do as Mother Crow wanted and made a tape of the four crows’ songs. The name of the tape was, ‘The Caw – Caw Crows.’ When the tapes came to the shops the people of the town were very happy. When they played the tapes at home, not only the rats, but all the pests ran away frightened. Some farmers even started playing them in their fields so that the birds which eat their seeds flew away in fright.
The town people were so happy with the services of the crows that they took away the golden cage from the cuckoo and gave it to the crows. But Mother Crow refused to live in the golden cage. She knew that a cage, whether it is made of gold or iron is still a cage and it would not allow her to fly like a free bird and she did not want that. She returned the cage to the cuckoo bird.
When the cuckoo saw Mother Crow’s behavior she was very ashamed of her own. She thought to herself that this fat crow worked so hard and where she has reached and I am where I was? Mother crow did not have beauty nor did she have any great talent. And yet her quality was useful to so many people. And that is why no one cares whether she is beautiful or not, they only praise her work. There were tears in the Cuckoo’s eyes and she ran to Mother Crow’s nest.
The cuckoo reached Mother Crow’s nest and bowed before her. Then she told her the truth about her she had left her little one in her nest when she was still in the egg and now she has grown up and become Melody. Cuckoo wanted to make up for her mistakes and embrace Melody. But Melody refused to go with her. She said she did not want to stay with a mother who had left her when she was small. She wanted to live with her mother who looked after her and cared for her till now she was big. She was happy with Mother Crow and the four crows for they loved her and cared for her. Poor Cuckoo, she was so sad. Now she had nothing. No beauty, no talent and no kids. She flew away crying and perched on the branches of a tree from where you can often hear her sad voice singing, ‘Koo, Koo, Koo.’
It is true what they say of any bird, or beast, or human being, that what is important is not your skin but your skill.