Tuesday, 20 March 2012

the cheetah cub and red fox

once upon a time, in the barren deserts of thar, lived a cheetah cub. nobody knew how she arrived there, for her kind is not indigenous to thar, and nobody gave much care for the whys and hows and wherefores of a simple cheetah cub. in fact, the neglect of the cub made it such that she would not care less of the world and its inhabitants, but instead divert her attentions inwards - to herself and the many questions that plagued her mind; mostly that of her own existence and purpose in life.

she scoured the desert each day, living off menial scraps and leftover carcasses, ones which nobody would care to finish but vultures, but they do not count for much as vultures are barely animals to begin with (not any more than they are shades of death). and in many years, she learned to make a living for herself, comfortable and safe, though never lavish or elaborate, and she would come into being as a cheetah that prided amongst little things, her own independence and self-sufficiency. this lead to the cheetah's growing an elaborate and beautiful coat of fur, one of golden mesmerising sleekness, dotted with obsidian rings of the finest and most perfect circles you have ever seen. and so, every animal in the land of thar begun to praise the cheetah for her infinitesimal beauty - but the cheetah would begin to realise that this praise stemmed from all the wrong reasons, and would not bow her head to any such compliments, but simply smile and run away.

one day, as the cheetah was drinking from a waterhole, lonesome and forlorn after a week's worth of failed huntings, she was startled by the appearance of an animal she had never met before. gazing up from its reflection across the stagnant waters, she stared bewildered and grieved, at a single red fox. tilting her head perplexedly, she inquired, 'who might you be, you across this drinking hole? i have never seen such a ragged and ugly beast. i do not think one such as you merits much in this world, and to share the same water that i would drink?... what makes you think you deserve so much?'

the red foxed continued lapping his drink, slowly, and without looking up, broke his sipping to simply say, 'i am a red fox'.

'indeed, i see that now. in fact, i knew this all along,' the cheetah responded haughtily.
'you probably did, and it did not occur to you. i should have introduced myself, and for that i apologise'.
'then you know your place well. maybe i shall allow you to drink with me a while'.
'you are too gracious. it is not common to find someone so exquisite, knowledgeable and kind-hearted altogether. indeed, today has been a most enlightening day, and i must admit it has fared me better than i normally do'.

the cheetah smiled and continued her drink. soon enough, the red fox had had his fill, and left the cheetah, who made night nearby the waterhole in hopes that she might see the fox again tomorrow. but that never came to be.

cheetah, burdened and troubled with many more days of hunger from inability to catch any prey, would soon find that her spirits were lower than they had ever been, and to this, she paid no tribute, for she was a strong and autonomous animal. there would need be none of self-sympathy, much less begging and pleading for food from whatever source.

on the fifth day of starvation, she would come across the very same red fox again, this time, him with a gigantic oxen killed - which is unusual for foxes who do not hunt in any manner similar to cheetah (or any other predator, for that matter). moth salivating but senses at attention, cheetah approached the feasting fox cautiously, with half a mind to chase him off and claim for herself the kill.

'oh, you startled me there! for a moment i had thought a lion was upon me and i would be dead in seconds, an additional meal to my new master along with my oxen friend here. but it is you, oh, beautiful cheetah. and now i am relief. pray join me in my paltry meal, for i cannot finish it myself, and it would be waste for the vultures to have after i am done, those pesky and plagued birds of nuisance.'

and all the while red fox was saying this, cheetah was stopped dead in her tracks, mere feet away from the carcass but seemingly a thousand miles away. with her sense of pride unnecessarily cut, she responded, 'do not think i would share such a wretched meal with you, one so similarly shabby and haggard - i only meant to surprise you with my cunning and stealth'.

'then you have done very well. i applaud you, and instead of offering you in alms, i would instead offer you in prize!'

and the mere play on words would soothe the enraged cheetah, who would then join red fox in a meal. and for twists of fate, cheetah then has a lengthy and attached conversation with red fox to find that though his food had been much to her satiety, red fox had more to offer in terms of his sagely opinions and advice. they feasted for three days on the same oxen - the presence of cheetah warding of vultures and lions and hyenas and jackals. but the third day would come to an end, where both would leave to find their way in life. his passing words to cheetah, red fox said, 'you are different from the animals here in thar. it seems you do not belong here, but you belong everywhere you may roam. and you are deceiving as well as surprising - your beauty surpasses your coat and extends to thought further than any animal i have met. and for that i thank you. i would bid you farewell, but this would imply an unnecessary parting. instead i say nothing and hope this is a brief hiatus, from which i hope to see you soon'.

'you use words kindly and excessively, but i feel nothing of the sort', said cheetah - though only she could tell how true the extent of her words were. 'i bid you nothing either,' and with that she ran off into the west, never to be heard or seen of for a protracted duration - at least from red fox.

but for red fox, that would be neither the end of his failing charm or imprudent efforts, to maybe see cheetah again, for he was smitten - not with a love for another being but that of an ideal and a hope. which is something hard enough to convey, much more put into words.

many years from then, red fox would meet cheetah again; seeing her in the distant sunset, a silhouette against a sinking sun, black and red and gold and yellow, like a fiery shadow in all majestic and fearsome beauty. and he ran. he ran and ran and dashed and scurried in her direction, if only to yell a 'hello!'.

but cheetah would have none of it, for she is a creature of fleeting emotions and ephemeral being. she is a being of speed and celerity and haste - something prided by cheetahs all over more than their beauty and strength and intelligence and wit. so, before red fox was in earshout distance, she sprinted, fast as she could, muting him and herself as the winds roared in her ears.

to this day, the deserts of thar are devoid of cheetahs, but if one listens closely, in the deepest, darkest nights, one can hear the set of four and fours, sprinting into the winds. and once in a while, one set would stop - cheetah pausing to give leeway for red fox to catch up, but before he ever could, she would start again in a new direction. so red fox, perpetually in chase, tired but never hopeless, pursues, till the end of time, and the indigenes say that this blur of red after a yellow bedim gives rise to the tint and hue of every sunrise and every sunset. and the day where he finally catches up, will be a day of ends, of despair, of heartbreak, so for the better of the world and safety of all animals, cheetah never will allow fox to see her again - out of vanity, out of pride, out of responsibility, and most importantly, out of whim.

No comments: