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How the cunning crow brought tragedy upon himself

Shishupal was a squirrel who lived in the forest of Jalvan.  There, in the sheltering branches of a peepul tree, Shishupal and his wife built a nest.  They made the nest out of coconut fibres, dried leaves and mud. They took great care in its construction and ensured that it was cosy and warm.  They had a good and happy reason.  They were expecting babies. 

In course of time, on a sunny morning, squeaks could be heard from the nest.  The night before, Shishupal’s wife had given birth to four baby squirrels. 

Things went peacefully in the forest. There were no predatory animals to prey upon them.  All the animals led lives of quiet and contentment. 

One day, a crow happened to fly across the forest.  He was looking for a place to build his nest.  He lived in another part of the forest. 

As he flew over the trees, he spotted the peepul tree where the squirrels lived.  He liked the tree. He swooped down and settled on one of the branches.

He spotted a place near the trunk.   The place was at a location where two branches met the tree.  “The place would be ideal”, he thought, “This would good support to the nest”.  But there was a problem.  The place was already occupied because that is where the squirrels had also built their nest. 

The crow’s heart was set on the place.  He wanted the place at any cost.  He waited until evening, when the squirrels returned after a day’s wandering in search of food.

The crow approached the Shishupal, the squirrel and asked him to vacate the place.  The squirrel refused, “I am raising my babies here.”, he said, “You can find some other place.”

The crow was angry at being rebuffed by the squirrel.  He was a proud and haughty bird.  He had a contemptuous and low opinion of any animal smaller than himself.

He flew back to his home.  That night as all the animals in the forest slept, the crow was awake and thinking.  Sometime before daybreak, he hit upon an idea. 

That morning, he flew alone to a part of the forest.  This was were the snakes lived.  It was a pit in the forest floor.  It had, originally, been a pond.  But the pond had dried many years ago and the snakes had made it their home. 

A few months ago, he had made an acquaintance with a snake.  The crow thought that he might use the snake’s help.  He flew low over the area and alighted on a branch.  The snakes were slithering in the ground below.  He looked around and spotted the snake he knew. 

He flew closer and sat next to him.  He greeted the snake and explained his problem.  He then spelt out his evil plan.  He would carry the snake to the tree.  The snake was to creep up the tree during the daytime when the parents would be away and eat the baby squirrels.  The grieving parents would then abandon the nest.  The snake agreed.  He was happy that he would be getting something to eat. 

That night the crow carried the snake in its claws and flew across the forest.  He landed at the foot of the tree and placed the snake there.  He then flew away.   The snake slithered beneath a rock near the tree. 

The next morning, as the squirrels left their nest, the snake crawled up the tree.  The helpless babies in the nest stood no chance.  The snake devoured them one by one. 

When the parents returned they were devastated.  Their babies were gone.  The squirrels grieved over their loss for many days.  Heartbroken, they abandoned their nest and went away. 

This was what the crow wanted.  The very next day, he gathered some twigs and built his own nest.  A few days later, his partner laid eggs in them.  A few weeks later, chicks hatched out of them.  The crow was happy and very proud of them.  He flew far and wide and gathered food for his hungry chicks. 

One day, when he went out as usual and returned in the noon, he found his chicks missing.  He searched for the chicks desperately.  There was no trace of them.  Finally, he found some feathers at the foot of the tree.  It was then that he understood what had happened.  The snake he had carried to the tree had swallowed his own chicks. 

The crow was stunned.  He cursed himself for his stupidity.  But his chicks were no more.

Children, this story teaches us not to be wicked or cunning.  Evil and cunningness will eventually backfire on us.  We need to be honest and never covet something that belongs to another person. 

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