Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Crow Street

“Japan has a big problem with crows,” explains my student, Sonoko. She is eleven years old with intimidating intelligence. She has soft, wide features and a toothy grin. Her hair is simple and unassuming – not too long, not too short, with bangs brushing her eyebrows. She’s wearing a simple navy cardigan with some form of emblem on it and a white ruffled blouse. She watches television only during lunch and studies the rest of the day. Her father designs submarines or something. “Crows?” I ask. “Mmm, yes.” She confirms with a nod. “Mm, I think that they are a big problem in Japan.” Japanese crows are menacing. They’re the size of small dogs, have beaks like pruning sheers and are absolutely everywhere. In fact, my wife seems to have recently developed an unhealthy, paralyzing phobia of crows – and most birds, come to think of it - solely due to the wicked stare and constant looming of the Japanese crows. She's frequently scurrying through the streets like a frightened field mouse and darting from one covered awning to another, eyes focused on the heavens and ears open to the foreboding caw caws from above. Shameful. Sonoko continues. “The crows attack people. You must really be careful of the crows.” “Attack people?” “Yes. Mmm, they kill people. Their beaks stab you here,” she taps the base of her skull. “ Or here,” with her forefinger she makes a hollow thud against her sternum. “Japanese crows murder people?!” I ask. “Mmm.” “How often?” Sonoko ponders. “Fairly often, I think. I think that you should be careful of the crows. I think that they will kill you.” “Kill me!?” “Mmm. And you should be careful at night walking down dark narrow streets.” Dark narrow streets! What is this little girl talking about? Japan is two-thirds dark narrow streets! “Dark narrow streets?!” I demand. At this point, my contribution to this conversation is little beyond simply repeating Sonoko’s words back to her incredulously. “Yes. The crows sleep in dark narrow streets, and if you wake them, they may be frightened.” She makes a sudden swirling motion with her arms, and I flinch instinctively. “I think that they will fly around and that they will kill you.” “What?!” “Yes. It is a crow street.” Further reading. The below article was released in the New York Times today. Forget the melting ice caps and Chinese gyoza. Japanese crows will surely usher in the final chapters of the human race. Repent, repent, people, before it's too late. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/07/world/asia/07crows.html

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