Down-toad-den: A Series of Un“fortunate” Events
While I was in sweet slumber in my hostel room, my phone started to ring. Chandru was calling. While I was struggling to gain full consciousness, he asked me to look out of the window towards the adjacent road. A snake was being attacked by some crows. Suddenly awake, I dropped the phone and looked out of the Window. Sure, there was a Checkered Keelback being attacked by a couple of house crows. I picked the phone up and told Chandru to keep a watch from his room while I dashed down to the road.
By the time I ran downstairs and around our hostel to reach the spot, the snake had gone. With Chandru giving me directions from hostel, I tried to look for it in the thicket but to no avail. It had appeared as if the snake was holding something in its mouth and the crows wanted their share. So I looked around and found an injured toad lying in the grass. Thinking it was dead, I left it to look for the snake. Meanwhile, that pair of crows appeared again and to my surprise the toad sprang to life! It was not dead after all!
While the crows were poking at the toad, another calamity striked down. The mightier jungle crows and kites developed interest in the activity. Couple of jungle crows descended and drove the house crows away. Worse for our poor toad. The house crows looked as their rightful pray was being snatched away. But the pray did not comply! It jumped, jumped, and jumped.
It had probably seen me standing at a distance of 25-30 feet. Guided by some instinct, it suddenly changed the direction and started coming closer to me.
Wounded and bleeding, bearing the assaults by crows, it moved closer to me inch by inch. With jungle crows behind and house crows ahead, it was stuck in the middle between life and death.
With whatever courage it could muster, the little toad managed to come literally to my feet knowning very well that crows would not dare come closer.
The tired and downtrodden little toad! It rested for a while under my supposed safety. But then every one had to have a bite or two and why would the ants be far behind? A big black ant took a bite or two along the way. The toad bore it all.
The crows were still lurking around with a show of disinterest. Trying to impress upon me that they ate grass or even pebbles! But never a toad!
I proved to be too wise for them as I did not leave the toad to die a miserable death. I did not mean to interfere with the nature’s course but the li’l one had fought too many and too long to deserve a chance at life. Probably, the crows developed some guilty conscience! And they left the spot. The li’l one was injured but triumphant after all. It slowly moved along in small and unsteady leaps … but with courage and faith …
(A photo-article based on this appeared in Hornbill 2006.)