Porcupine Poku was the chief of the porcupine soldiers. He was a gallant animal with lots of spears to throw. Skilled in armoury, the entire animal kingdom feared him. Coupled with the fact that he commanded great respect among his own people and could move all the porcupines, no animal dared look him twice in the face let alone try to disrespect him. Cruiser elephant saw that no matter what happened, he had to say something in order to let the ruling king know that the land did not belong to him. He raised his trunk, occasionally stealing glances at Porcupine Poku to the dismay of all the animals. King Gyaas first looked surprised, then looked around and nodded for him to talk.
“King Gyaas, we know you are the king. A king who promised to make us all equal. I believed you when you said you would resort to chewing grass because even a huge animal like me lives on grass. Now you sit on a higher ground, watching our pates and saying we should present one of our kinds to you. Is that not a breach of promise?”
All the animals were touched but afraid for the life of Cruiser. For minutes on end, King Gyaas looked at Cruiser with no readable countenance. Then he suddenly burst out laughing.
“Cruiser, I know what I said but living the talk and talking the living are two different things. The sky is a vast unreachable land. One that no one can reach. Even Eagle was not able to reach the sky to fetch the rains. Now ask this, how is a wingless lion striving to make his land better supposed to reach those lands to fetch the rains which are hiding far beyond the fire sun? If I am to get the strength to think, to get the strength to climb trees, to get the strength to consult the gods of the sun, I need strength. You know the God who created us failed in granting us equality. I love the taste of blood no matter how small you see me to be, you love the taste of leaves although you are big and pigs love the taste of dirt although they have very fair skin. Who are we to blame for these taste buds? Who is to blame for the differences in animals? If the one who created it failed to bring fairness of lives, why do you try to let me lose favour with the ones I am working hard to save? Look at their faces, don’t they look thin to you? If sacrificing one of their kinds to me will eventually help me gain the strength to think and solve the problems of the land, why do you speak as though I am a monster trying to destroy them?
I have the strength to catch any animal and do with it as I please. Why did I call this meeting? It is out of respect, out of love, out of brotherliness, out of duty!!! So my brethren, listen not to the rants of Cruiser, one who covets the fact that I have your mandate and let us do what is right.”
Most of the animals, especially those in the cat family, clapped for King Gyaas. Others were confused as to what is going on. Cruiser did not know what to say. He was surprised to see faces metamorphose from support to hatred. King Gyaas stood there watching with satisfaction on his face. Cruiser left the parade followed by his wife and child.
“Thank you very much Gyaasmaniacs! I know we will go places with time. We will beat this famine and drought that refuses to leave our land! We will shame hunger and shame thirst! We will kill tears and gain riches! Just struggle for a little while, let’s drink in the air to wait for the sweat of the sky. I promise I will put your donations to great use. I will gain more skin to cover up, more fur to adorn this neck, and when the body is fit, I will face the sun squarely. May the gods watch over us! May God Bless us all!!”
King Gyaas left amidst the cheers and merry making.
Formida was a very quiet ant who lived on the respect of all those he lived with. His greatest virtue was his silence. He watched what had happened in Jungle Kingdom and could not believe his eyes and ears. What had happened to the reasoning of the animals? Are they giving in to the ridiculous request by the blood thirsty king? Formida could barely breathe.
“Well, they will wake up when the time comes for them to select their loved ones for the teeth of their king. What do I care? As long as I stay out of the reach of his legs, I am safe. No family member of mine is affected because we do not fall within their taste bud games”
Formida said in his head and headed off.
A week later, King Gyaas sat on his hind legs, and stood on his fore legs surrounded by his family. Many lions were there to show their support but their faces spoke volumes of their expectations. It got to midday and no animal had brought his token. Not even the stinking pigs. So he sent his porcupine warriors to go to their houses and bring their family heads to the palace. When the porcupines went, all the houses were intact but no animal soul could be smelt nearby. The only animals they could see were the birds who flew so far up upon seeing them. So the porcupines went to report this to their king. King Gyaas roared, roared and roared like a beast who has felt the fires of hell as his children and the children of his family members roared with him in hunger.
Where could they have gone? They couldn’t have gone far, Jupi, Gyaas’ wife asked. Catcher, Gyaas’ sister roared louder than Gyaas to stop him in his track.
“I told you to let us hunt secretly for the game. You refused. It was perfect when they thought we were eating grass. They were careless and so many animals could be caught at a go. And no matter how many of them went missing, they never felt like hiding from us. Now look! You decided to make a pact with our game, pact with our food! Who does not fear death? In this world, who will stand to see the death of his dear one or himself? You don’t listen to any advice! You think you are the almighty just because you got their nods to be king? Now we will all suffer. Struggling to gain the love of your food is simply ridiculous! We are carnivores, born carnivores and will die as carnivores. It is not a sin to hunt, God himself made us so but you want to behave like a hypocrite. Only those beyond the boarders do that! Pleading to their game before eating them. Why should I do that? Eating is eating no matter how the food was gotten and telling someone you will eat the person is more cruel than not telling him or her. We will all starve!”
Gyaas looked at her and looked down. He had lost the zeal to argue. He fell on all fours and hid his face.
Crude, his younger brother, roared and glared at his sister.
“King Gyaas get up! No matter what Catcher says, you are the king of Jungle Kingdom. We live to learn from our experiences. What has happened has happened. Now we just need to find a solution and move forward. The fact that their properties are all in their houses shows they are around but in hiding. What we need to do is to find a way of getting them out of their hiding places. Besides, is it easy to cross our boarders? You need someone from the out-lands in order to move from here or you will be crushed even before you reach their boundary. That desert from our boundary to theirs is a place many dare to live but risk dying before their times. I always felt bad because they could come here any time they wanted but made such a fuss when we wanted to go there. Not any more. Their restrictions are our keys to find ways of getting through to those idiots. So get out of the clothes of sadness and let’s find a way to hunt them down. Let’s hunt!”
King Gyaas saw the wisdom in what Crude said, stood up and called out:
END OF CHAPTER FOUR. WATCH OUT FOR CHAPTER FIVE NEXT WEEK
(Image taken from www.broadway.com)