In the heart of Tamil Nadu, beneath the blazing sun of South India, a tale of cunning and survival unfolds with a vulture, the descendant of the legendary Jatayu, at its center. For six grueling hours, this majestic bird scoured the skies, its eyes piercing the earth below in a fruitless quest for carrion. With its stomach growling in protest, the vulture's fortune seemed to take a turn when it spotted a lone mouse scurrying across the barren ground.
With a powerful swoop, the vulture descended, its talons poised to snatch its unsuspecting prey. Yet, this was no ordinary mouse. In the shadow of death, it spoke with a courage that belied its diminutive form. "Have you heard the whispers that flutter through the village?" the mouse began, weaving a tale of mockery directed at the vulture's regal but misunderstood appearance. It spoke of how the village critters ridiculed the vulture's bald head, its featherless neck, and the stark contrast of its black eyes against a yellow beak.
Yet, in its voice lay not scorn but admiration as it recounted the vulture's noble lineage to Jatayu, the divine bird who valiantly clashed with the demon king Ravana to protect the honor of Mother Sita. The mouse chastised the villagers' ignorance, revealing a secret: a treasure trove of ducks and chickens, ripe for the taking, hidden within the village.
Swayed by the mouse's flattery and the promise of a feast, the vulture spared its life, delivering it safely to a mountaintop sanctuary. With renewed vigor, it set its sights on the village, where indeed, a bountiful enclosure awaited. But fate, as ever, held its twists. In its eagerness, the vulture found itself ensnared in a net above the coop, a prisoner of its own hunger.
The village children, once victims of the vulture's thefts of fried doughnuts (வடை) , now stood back in fear, while the coop's owner hesitated, caught between wrath and caution. Yet, destiny would not doom the vulture to such an ignoble end. By the grace of the law that shielded its kind, Wildlife Conservancy officers, present by serendipity, intervened. They freed the bird, allowing it to embrace the sky once more.
From its hidden vantage, the mouse watched the unfolding drama, a smirk of self-congratulation playing across its features. It had gambled against death and emerged victorious, its life a testament to the power of wit over might. This tale of the vulture and the mouse, woven with threads of bravery, cunning, and the ancient legacies of Tamil Nadu, serves as a vivid reminder of the unpredictable dance of predator and prey, and the unexpected alliances formed in the face of adversity.
Dear reader: When I was a child walking in my neighborhood in India, a hungry vulture swooped down, flapped my head with its wings and stole the Vadai out of my hands. True story.