7.  Tale of Town Crow Teaching Forest Crow

In a distant, hidden time, long ago, lived two crows: one was Town Crow, the other was Forest Crow. Town Crow knew how to eat food of all kinds. He survived by stealing food from humans. Anyone not careful would have their food quickly stolen and eaten by him.
      One day, as Town Crow was flying, looking for food as he usually did, he ran into Forest Crow and asked, "Brother Forest Crow, how do you find food to eat these days?" Forest Crow replied, "I find food in the honest way. I do not steal from others to feed myself. Brother Town Crow, by what means do you find food to eat?" Town Crow replied, "If I sought food in the manner that you do, Brother Forest Crow, I would not be able to find enough to survive. Looking for food my way, I am able to find plenty." Forest Crow asked, "What is your way, Brother Town Crow?" Town Crow responded, "In the morning, watch the humans. They foolishly lay out fish to dry and carelessly forget about it, or they walk about, here and there, until they have all scattered and disappeared. I swoop down and quickly steal the food, then fly to the tree top and eat it without a worry in the world." Forest Crow said, "Oh! I have never gotten food in that way. You had better be careful getting food like that, for as the old saying goes, "Stealing to have enough, when caught you will have it rough, aplenty!" Town Crow responded, "Brother Forest Crow, if you try it with me just once, we will see if we have enough or have it rough!"
      After their conversation, they headed off straight for an area populated by humans. Midway through their flight, they caught sight of a man who had stopped along the road to cook rice and grill fish. With a krama1 wrapped about his forehead, he went into the woods nearby to collect more firewood. Town Crow said to Forest Crow, "Brother, now do as I instruct. I will swoop down and grab his krama . When he chases after me, you quickly dive down and steal his fish!" Forest Crow agreed on the plan. Town Crow thus went and stole the krama off the man's head and swiftly flew away. As Town Crow predicted, the man chased after him to get the krama back. Immediately upon seeing the man chase after Town Crow, Forest Crow went into action. He dove down, snatched the grilled fish, and quickly flew back up to the tree top, where he perched nonchalantly.
      Town Crow, seeing that Forest Crow had gotten the fish, dropped the man's krama back to him. Having retrieved his krama, the man returned to where he left his oxcart and found the fish he was grilling missing. He looked everywhere but could not find it, until he happened to look up into the trees. There he saw both crows sharing the fish and eating in style. The man became very angry but could do nothing.
      From that day onward until the present, Forest Crow has known how to steal food just like Town Crow.

1krama: a versatile scarf used ubiquitously by Cambodians; in this story, the man has wrapped it around his head to shield his face from the sun or to soak up sweat from his forehead like a headband
©2010 Khmer Buddhist Relief