Is your grandfather a crow?
I don’t know how many human children can answer that question unless they were sired by crows, which is rare.
Every parent, grand-parent, aunt, uncle or friend remembers some gems of baby talk from the children in their lives. I remember swelling like a balloon fish when the daughter sang her first song. I hadn’t known it then, but it was pure audacity calling it a song. It was gibberish, but precious gibberish all the same.
The daughter had trouble saying “Tha” as a baby. She seemed to think that “Ka” and “Tha” were the same. That would have been no problem at all if there was another word for grandfather in Tamil. It turns out that the Tamil word for ‘Grandfather’ has not one, but two “Tha”s. (“Thaatha“)
The child tried and tried and called him “Kaaka“. It was not an ideal replacement given that crows were inclined to respond every time and break their flight midway to answer her. (“Kaaka” means “Crow” in Tamil). So, every time, she hollered for a crow, the grandfather would answer, and the crows gradually learned to tell the difference. They had their little training programs written out that said, “If a child calls a crow when you fly over Latitude x and Longitude y, do not stop over. You are not welcome and will scare the child. Keep flying and stay productive. The resident grandfather there thinks he is a crow and will handle the situation. He responds to ‘Thaatha‘ and ‘Kaaka‘ ”
The crows and grandfathers were mutually happy with the situation, they waved to each other from afar and life chugged on.
The problem is that the training manual for the Crows has not been updated for several years now. Years passed, the child had a brother who is now stringing words together and this young man cannot say”Ka”. He can only say “Tha”.
Cars are Thars and Cows are Tows.
So, this little fellow stands in the garden and yells for a Crow (“Kaaka Kaaka!” he screams. The audience hears”Thaatha Thaatha!“) The crows fly on, while grandfathers respond.
All very confusing I tell you. Both Grandfathers and Crows need new training packets.
Let’s end on a bit of a tongue twisters for children, crows and grandfathers (kuttis, kaakas and thaathas) shall we?
The Thaakaa Kathai
Thaatha-ku Kaaka kathai
Kaaka-kku Thaatha kathai
Thaatha-kum Kaaka-kum Kutti kathai
Kutti-kum Kaaka-kum Thaatha kathai
Thaatha-kum Kutti-Kum Kaaka kathai