This story is taken from Ruskin Bond’s book, “Grandfather’s Private Zoo”. It tells us about a young crow that the narrator rescues. The crow continues to live with them after his recovery, and they name it Caesar. Caesar turns out to be very smart but also very mischievous.
Table of Contents
The Narrator– a young boy who rescues a crow
Caesar– a young crow who is rescued by the narrator
Grandfather– the narrator’s grandfather who kept many animals
Grandmother– the narrator’s grandmother who is fed up with Caesar’s activities
Aunt Mabel– the narrator’s aunt who is not very good with pets
The Narrator Rescues a Crow
The young crow had fallen from its nest and was moving about the road. It was in danger of being crushed by a vehicle, or caught by a cat. The narrator picked it up and brought it home. It was in a bad condition, and they did not expect it to live. But the narrator and his Grandfather did their best to help it.
They fed it by gently opening its beak with a pencil, pushing in some food, and then removing the pencil to let it swallow. They fed it break, milk, and the narrator’s Grandmother’s homemade plum wine. The young crow recovered soon.
They offered to let him fly away, but he did not and made himself at home in the house instead. The narrator’s Grandmother, his Aunt Mabel, and even some of his Grandfather’s pets objected, but they could not get rid of the bird.
They were not sure if he was male, but named him Caesar. Soon Caesar was joining them at meal times, besides finding insects in the garden to eat. He danced about the dining table until he had been given a small bowl of food.
Caesar’s Mischievous Activities
He was always restless. He would jump across a table to empty a match-box, or tear the daily paper, or knock down flower vases, or tug at the tail of one of the dogs. The narrator’s Grandmother said that the crow would be their ruin and asked if they could not keep him in a cage. They tried keeping Caesar in cage, but he cawed and flapped so angrily that it was better to let him run about the house.
He showed no desire to join the other crows in the banyan tree. The narrator’s Grandfather said this was because he was a jungle crow, a raven of sorts. But it seemed to the narrator that Caesar had grown used to living with humans and did not wish to mix with his own kind. He would even argue with Harold the Hornbill.
In time, Caesar learnt to talk a little in a cracked, throaty voice. He would sit for hours outside the window, saying “hello”. He recognised the click of the gate when the narrator came home from school, and would come to the door saying hello.
The narrator also taught him to sit on his arm and say “Kiss, kiss” while placing his head gently against his mouth. On one of Aunt Mabel’s visits, Caesar sat on her arm and said, “Kiss, Kiss!” Aunt Mabel was very happy and leant forward for a kiss. But her spectacles caught Caesar’s attention and he knocked them off with his beak. Aunt Mabel was never good with pets.
The narrator’s Grandmother insisted that Caesar was not a pet, but a pest. He took to visiting neighbouring houses and stealing pens, pencils, hair-ribbons, combs, keys, shuttlecocks, toothbrushes and false teeth. He really loved toothbrushes, and made a collection of them on top of the cupboard in the narrator’s room.
The narrator’s Grandmother’s blood-pressure went up because of Caesar’s activities. Caesar spied on children going into the bania’s shop, and often snatched sweets from them as they came out. He stole the neighbours’ clothes pegs too and left them on top of the narrator’s cupboard.
Caesar’s Last Days
It was Caesar’s gardening activities that finally led to disaster. He was eating a neighbour’s beans when a stick was thrown at him, breaking his leg. The narrator carried the poor bird home, and washed and bandaged his leg along with his Grandfather. But it would not mend.
Caesar no longer talked or ate and grew weaker day by day. An occasional sip of homemade wine was all that kept him alive. One morning the narrator found him dead on the sofa. He believed poor’s Caesar’s anti-social habits had led to his early end. He dug a shallow grave in the garden and buried Caesar there, along with all the toothbrushes and clothes pegs he had collected.
This story is a fun tale about a crow and how it comes to live with the narrator’s family. The crow, called Caesar, is clever but naughty, which ultimately leads to his death. However, Caesar’s time with the narrator’s family teaches us about the bond between humans and animals, and gives us a deeper understanding of birds such as crows.