The Swans and Crows of the World

The ink in my pen has the strength to ruin his boy’s career. But my pen can be used for better things ... A drop of ink, can make a million think!

The Swans and Crows of the World

An old friend of my (late) father-in-law, was over for dinner. My husband Sanjay, recounted an incident from the 1970’s where a peon in his father’s office, had misbehaved grossly. Dad was then the Minister for Industries, Government of Punjab. Sanjay told his father to rusticate the peon. His father was a wise man who had seen many seasons in life. He counselled the erring peon and gave him another chance. He told Sanjay, “The ink in my pen has the strength to ruin this boy’s career. But I would prefer to give him a chance to mend his ways. My pen can be used for better things.”

Dad’s friend shared the story of a prince who was galloping on horseback to go to another province. The sweltering heat of the sun overhead made him feel tired and sweaty, so he halted and lay down to take a nap under a tree. The Sun’s rays beating down on his face through the branches of the tree irritated him.

Just then a swan came to sit on a branch of the tree above his head and spread out its wings. The Swan’s outstretched wings created a curtain between the prince and the sun’s rays. The prince smiled in appreciation at his newly found guardian angel and dozed off. A few minutes later, a crow came by and saw the swan protecting the prince from the hot sun. The crow sat on the branch just under the swan and pooped … the droppings fell squarely on the face of the prince! He woke up startled and disgusted; spitting out the muck that was splattered on his moustaches and lips.

The prince looked up, saw the swan and in a fit of rage, lashed out at the swan with his sword and chopped off its outstretched wing. The Swan fell off the tree, writhing in pain while the scheming crow laughed in glee. Seeing the crow laughing wickedly, the prince realized what had transpired but it was too late to undo his misdeed.

Dad’s octogenarian friend smiled saying, “Some people protect us with wings outstretched, not because it’s their duty to do so but just because they know that it’s the right thing to do. Your dad was like that.” Sanjay replied, “Yes, it’s not easy be a swan. Also the intentions of benevolence or malevolence of those around, are not easy to decipher.”

I was reminded of what Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, “Duty without love is deplorable, Duty with love is desirable, Love without duty is divine.” There are still some swans in this world. Crows are aplenty though, they just make trouble and party on the rubble.

And yes! The pen is mightier than the sword. It should be used to write what is right. As Lord Byron said, “A drop of ink, can make a million think!”

A slighthly edited version of this piece is published in the Tribune on 15.01.2023. It can be viewed here

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