Male moms


The Cassowary chimes in, (c) Young World, The Hindu, 2012

The female cassowary lives the good life. Living as she does in the jungles of New Guinea, she is a flightless bird with ‘leadership qualities’.

Dear Ms Bird of Paradise,

Take charge of your life! Be a proactive professional who solves her problems with ease. Take a leaf out of my book for a bit of advice on how to make your bitter life better. I am a southern cassowary and undoubtedly, the better half. I am bigger and better than any male of my species. I, in no uncertain terms, show them who the boss is!

I know such leadership qualities do not come overnight. I have attained this position of power after years of evolution in the jungles of New Guinea. I belong to the same family of flightless birds as the ostrich, rhea, emus and the now extinct moa. I may be the third largest bird on the planet, after the ostrich and the emus, but I can hold my own. At nearly six feet tall, with powerful muscular legs and a sharp dagger-like claw on my inner toe, I am formidable and mean. However, my size does not diminish my beauty. I have black-brown loose feathers on my body while my blue-purple neck and head are bare. My helmet-like crest on my head makes me look regal.

The one thing I would rather not have are the two red wattles that hang from my neck. I wish that silly appendage were only on males. It would be so right on them!

A li’l advice

Speaking of males, they look just like us though smaller. But their lack of personality makes them insignificant. Hence, to make them feel better about themselves we have trained them to build nests for our clutch of three to five large, pea-green coloured eggs, and incubate them for a couple of months. Of course, they cannot feed during this time, but what joy awaits them — little buff and brown striped chicks running after them saying “dada”! As far as we females are concerned, laying eggs is our only job.

I have not decided what I would like to do in life. Perhaps travel a bit. I have seen every square inch of this island home of mine. It is about 2,200 km long and 1,100 km at its widest point. Lying north of Australia and a wee bit south of the equator, it is the largest tropical island and the second largest in the world after Greenland. It is an incredible place with thousands of species of animals and birds. I roam around its varied habitats — tropical rainforests, coastal regions and snow-capped mountains. I go from the provinces of Indonesia in the western half of the island, across the border into Papua New Guinea on its eastern half, without a passport and visa. New Guinea is after all my home.

Hey, sis! Here is my advice to you.

You too should teach and train those dancing clowns to share the responsibility of bringing up kids!

Good Luck!



Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. November 12, 2012


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