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A Tale of the Cow, the Crow, and the Egyptian Vulture

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One year, during the rainy season on the island of Socotra, the rains were very late. That delay caused drought and aridity. Sheep, cows, donkeys, camels, and other livestock began to lose their pastures and could not find anything to eat. As a result, they looked emaciated; some became ill, and others eventually died of starvation.

In such circumstances, there was a strange crow on the island of Socotra that was moving from one area to another on the same island to search for dead animals and eat their eyes only. Even those emaciated animals or those dying animals that couldn’t fight it, so that it would hop, pull out their eyes, and fly away. The crow could come to them and pull out their eyes even before they died.

One day, while the crow was flying over the pastures, looking for a new hunt, he saw a cow petrifying all the time and could not move at all. The crow realized that it was dying and that there was a potential hunt that the crow could pull out its eyes for that day. The crow landed on a nearby tree, trying to closely check its critical condition and whether it was a valid hunt for that day or not. Perhaps it would be dying now, so the crow could pull out its wide eyes, as the eyes of cows were its favorite meal, in contrast to sheep with small eyes. But when the crow got closer to it, it found that the Egyptian vulture[1] had come before it, as it was also waiting for its share of it. When the crow saw the Egyptian vulture, it ensured that the cow was dying and would inevitably die soon enough.

As for the Egyptian vulture, it was annoyed after the arrival of the crow, which came to hunt eyes. The Egyptian vulture knew there was a possible fight between them over the eyes of the cow. On the other hand, the crow was speaking to himself at that moment as it watched the cow, unable to move but still alive.

The crow said to himself, “Because of the Egyptian vulture, I could not have pulled out its wide eyes and eaten her eyes now. But it seemed that the Egyptian vulture would ruin my day.”

The crow thought of a trick that made the Egyptian vulture leave that place so the hunt would be eaten by him alone.

The crow told the Egyptian vulture, “On the other side, I found several dead cows on this island. Why don’t you go there?

The Egyptian vulture understood that the crow told her lies and that, in fact, it wanted the Egyptian vulture to leave so it would be alone eating the dying cow.

The Egyptian vulture asked the crow, “Why don’t you go there?

Then the crow realized there was no benefit to thinking of any tricks.

They kept silent because they realized that both of them were waiting for the death of this cow, and there was no benefit to thinking of any more tricks. Each of them sat in front of the cow, waiting for it to die. Thus, they might share the cow’s eyes, and each one of them would take one eye. But the cow seemed to stand steadfast in the face of death, but it was not the time for its death yet.

The crow and the Egyptian vulture kept walking back and forth while praying to God for the cow s death to come, but it was not time for its death yet.

It was close to sunset. Darkness began to shroud the low areas of the Socotra plains. Nothing was shining, but only a few lights were on the mountaintops. In the meantime, the sky was overcast, indicating it might rain soon.

The crow was afraid of the rainfall. They were in the open, staying in extreme cold.

Thus, the crow suggested, “Shall we return to our dens and be cautious and careful of the coming storm and then come back the next morning?”

The crow was afraid that if he went alone, the cow would die at night, the Egyptian vulture would eat the two eyes alone, and the crow would get nothing.

The Egyptian vulture thought that the crow only wanted to trick it into thinking that the crow would return alone at night and eat the eyes of the cow alone.

The Egyptian vulture said to the crow, “As you know, the moon is full tonight. And it does not rain at night if the moon rises. We have to sit together because the cow may die at night. Another bird may come here before us in the morning while we are still in our dens.”

The crow replied, “It may rain at the same time as the moon rises. It may rain at night, even if the moon is full. You see, it seems that the storm will be strong and the rain will be heavy. Even the houses with strong pillars will be destroyed.”

It seemed that the Egyptian vulture did not believe the crow. Thus, it remained in its place, waiting for the cow’s death. The crow flew away toward its nest. It rained heavily in the middle of the night, and the storm blew up until the morning. Early, at the crack of dawn, when the sparkling sun rays entered rooms, the crow came to the same place and found the cow and the Egyptian vulture dead. He pulled out four eyes instead of two.

  [1] It’s a type of vulture bird whose name in the Socotri language is “suaidu.” It is found abundantly on the island of Socotra. It shares people’s activities of daily living and is considered a municipal bird. The scientific name is the Egyptian vulture, the Egyptian vulture, or Neophron percnopterus.

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