This happened years and years ago in a bright and busy forest.Two trees, the Neem and the Peepal, faced each other. A big, black raven called Kallu had his nest on the Peepal tree, while the Neem tree was the home of Nanni sparrow.
Kallu was a wily bird and he felt no fondness for Nanni sparrow. After some weeks, Nanni laid three tiny, beautiful eggs. Soon they hatched. Her nest came alive with the sweet twitter of the baby sparrows.
Mama Nanni was very proud of her little ones and she named them Chhutki, Mutki and Bhondu. Chhutki was small and very pretty. Mutki was fat and cute, while Bhondu was a little on the stupid side.
One morning, Chhutki, Mutki and Bhondu fought over a worm that Nanni sparrow had caught for them. They made such a big racket, shrieking “Chuee! Chueee! Chueeee!” Kallu, the wily raven, heard them clearly. Kallu’s eyes lit up, his beak began to water and in a very harsh voice, he said, “Wah! What do I hear? It seems like my breakfast is ready for me! I shall go and knock at Nanni’s door, push her aside and then grab her little ones!”
He wasted no time and off he flew to the Neem tree. Nanni heard the flap-flap of wings and guessed that Kallu raven was at her doorstep. Nanni panicked a bit. Her little brain stopped working and her tiny heart missed a beat for she knew that Kallu had come for her babies. But she soon thought up a plan. Once that was done, she came out of her nest and said, “Aha! Kallu, dear brother, a very good morning to you! And what brings you to my humble nest so early in the morning?”
Kallu, the raven, did not mince his words and said very gruffly, “I have to come have my breakfast, of course! And you should know what I like most! Give me your babies, one-two-and-three, all of them. Quick, right now!”
Nanni, who had done some quick thinking, answered cheerfully, “Kallu bhai, my children are always there for you. But surely, before you start breakfast would you not like to rinse your mouth and wash your face?”
“Perhaps you have a point there, Nanni.” Kallu flapped his wings and flew off.
He reached a well full of water and this is what he said: “Well, well, you are the king of wells and I am the king of ravens. You give me water. I shall rinse my beak and wash my face, so I can gobble up Nanni’s babies!”
The well said: “You can have as much water as you like, Kallu, but you must first bring a pitcher to fill the water in.”
Kallu thought that was reasonable, so he flapped his wings and went to the potter. And this is what he said to the potter: “Potter, potter, you are the king of potters and I am the king of ravens. If you give me a clay pitcher, I can fill it with water and rinse my beak and wash my face. Then I can gobble up Nanni’s little babies.”
The potter replied: “Of course, you can have as many pitchers as you want. But first I need a spade so I can dig up the soil. Only then can I make your pitcher.”
This made sense to Kallu and he took off again. Kallu flew over to the blacksmith’s house. He said: “Blacksmith, blacksmith, you are the king of blacksmiths and I am the king of ravens. If you give me a spade, the potter can dig the soil and make me a pitcher. I will fill water in the pitcher and then rinse my beak and wash my face. Then I shall gobble up Nanni’s little babies.”
The blacksmith replied, “Simple, Kallu. Fly off and get some red, hot coals with which I can melt down the iron to shape the spade.”
Kallu rushed off and flew toward a burning pit full of red, hot coals. Once he got the coals and took them back to the blacksmith everything would happen smoothly and he would finally get to eat Chhutki, Mutki and Bhondu! Kallu grew more and more excited.
He reached the pit and this is what he said: “Fire, fire, you are the king of fire and I am the king of ravens. If you give me some fire then the blacksmith can shape the spade that the potter will use to dig the soil to make the pitcher that I will take to the well to fill with water. Then I can rinse my beak and wash my face before gobbling Nanni’s little babies.”
The fire replied, “Certainly, Kallu raven. Be my guest! Pick up as many red, hot coals as you need in your beak and off you go!”
Kallu raven did just that. The silly bird did not realise that he would be carrying hot, hot, hot coals in his beak! Even though Kallu was a big bird and wily most of the time, for now, he behaved quite foolishly because of his greed.
As soon as he started flying, carrying the hot coals in his beak, the breeze fanned the coals and Kallu raven’s beak became red and hot. Before he knew it the flames from the coals burnt his feathers. Then they burnt his wings and last of all, his tail. Wily Kallu raven was a sorry sight. He flapped and shrieked as the flames burnt him and finally he crashed down to the ground, very close to Nanni’s Neem tree.
Nanni watched Kallu raven thrashing on the ground. She felt sad for him but happy that she had been clever enough to save her children. Though Nanni sparrow was tiny, she had a clever mind. And with her plan, she had been able to save her Chhutki, Mutki and Bhondu.
She flew down from her nest to help Kallu, for Nanni was actually a very sweet sparrow. Kallu, in tears and between sobs, said, “Nanni, little sister! I am sorry for wanting to gobble your little babies. Please forgive me and help me out of my misery!”
Nanni sparrow nursed Kallu raven back to health and after that they became friends forever.