The Right Meat for the Animals

Circumstances force us to do things we were never destined to do. We are all different and have qualities and talents to enrich this world. But once forced to be someone else we lose our identity and get into the rut of running a useless life. Then once things do not work out we ask specialists to help us do things, these talented outsiders fix nothing but to create more misery. This story is inspired from “The Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

There was finally a truce, the first of its kind in the animal kingdom in the vast Savannas of central Africa. A day of jubilation where it was finally decided that the Carnivores, Herbivores and Omnivores would live in peace with no one attacking each another.

‘’What a day to celebrate my brothers!’’, said the chief Buffalo tucking his newborn besides him. He still wasn’t sure of the intentions of his new allies.

‘’Yes, indeed” Said the Kudo. ‘’We are honored to achieve the greatness of co existence just like the two legged city monkeys and will finally be like them and focus on the greatness and development for the masses.’’ he bleated in excitement.

Other Beasts of all sizes nodded with a hum of approval as this was a time of relief after millions of years of running, hiding and dodging the predators; all the while the carnivores kept their cool and stood by in awe of the great numbers of their prey hailing them as their saviours.

The Chief Negotiator, An oversized Crocodile slithered from the mud and whispered in the ears of lions to raise the roar so as to announce the right time of the truce and the celebrations to begin. The Lions thundered and shook the edge of the skies, the Hyenas joined in with their laugh and the African Wild Dogs danced with their celebratory shrieks.

The Pack Leader Jackal howled, hail hail hail to the beasts of the jungle, “Today is the day to rejoice”, we the scavengers of the centuries being appointed as the spokesperson of the hunters, announce today being the day of reckoning when the world would see the rain fall on this herd of big and small, the heavy and the light, the slow and the fast, the sky would acknowledge today when the lion and the antelope drinks from the same spring, we come together today as brothers and sisters with no animosity amongst us!”. “Let us dance to the tunes of the jungle”, He announced.

Then the lions danced with the deer, the impala with the leopards, the eagles with the sparrows, black mamba and the rats and so on, there was dust raised all across and all that could be heard was a mix of roars, laughter and shrieks. A day before the celebrations, all carnivores had had their fill so they were fine to join in but within the masses of their prey there was an underlying whisper.

Soon a vulture swooped down and chattered in the ears of the fox, “What are we to eat my dear friend when all the celebrations come to an end?”. The fox being the psychiatrist of the jungle knew well the drama that was being played, she told the vulture to quietly observe the game and look nice and happy till it goes. She could see the Impala getting anxious and could make out that they had the same concern.

As the day ended and everyone started retreating, the lions got together and asked the very question that had been lingering in the minds of the other animals; “What are we going to eat once the party dies down?”.

“I don’t know how to answer this” said the wolf, “We just finished our agreement.”. The zebra kid was playing with his tail and all he could do was to observe this while craving his instinct to pounce at him. “Cheetah do you have something to add?” asked the Lion.

“First you have to agree to not harm my cubs and only then can I go about this.” he said.

“You just think of yourself Cheetah” said the Lion, “Here our overall survival is at stake, you have to think of the macro strategy to ensure that our prey understands our needs and collectively we find a solution to this. “ he muttered.

“Please, I have been having my cubs slaughtered by you Lions all this time and unless I have an agreement, I cannot go on.” said the Cheetah in a defiant tone.

The Lions got agitated by his insistence and asked the Leopard to give propose opinion, there are some things that he couldn’t just agree upon, this was too early for them to make more commitments and he was after all the king of the jungle.

“We need to call the Buffalo to ask him as we entered into this agreement I guess without thinking too much” replied the dotted cat. “I will go and call him to discuss this predicament of ours.” he said.

He strolled a distance and walked up to the grazing herd and called out the Alpha Buffalo, there was a little shiver in the beasts upon his arrival but they just shrugged this off.

“Hello brother how can I help you, we were just grazing after this magnificent day and getting ready to go to the water hole” said the Chief.

“I had a matter of great importance that I wanted to discuss if you could please steal a little time from your busy schedule?”. He could feel a sense of urgency in the Leopard’s voice and agreed to accompany him together with his macho bodyguards.

“There’s no need for them said the Leopard, I think we had a long day creasing out the same issue, didn’t we?” he whispered.

“It would sink in slowly and no one wants to take any chances!” said the Buffalo. They all walked towards the Dark Den mountains to meet the Big guys. The sun was setting and the orange had spread across the horizon, the birds of prey were circling the skies like an impending tornado. Their eyes looking for answers and the focus of attention was the Chief Buffalo.

“Welcome Master Buffalo to our den!” called out the the limping lion at the entrance. This was something impossible just a day ago but it had anyway been an achievement.

“Thanks for inviting me, where is King Lion and whats the agenda so soon?”, the Buffalo called out but was making sure that he had his eyes scanning the area and so did his bodyguards but at this stage they were really exposed. Hundreds of prying eyes chased them as they moved to the center court awaited by the panel of the big cats and other sharp teeth.

“We have an urgent matter to discuss as there has been a bit of an oversight on our part while agreeing on the peace treaty!” said the King Lion, “we sort of forgot to consider the part of our meals, what would we eat after the imposition of the treaty? “. “We cannot eat grass as you can imagine so we need your suggestion?, King Lion could feel the Buffalo’s shifting and knew that they were terrified.

“Do not be afraid, we are not here for any violence and had our fill yesterday so we are all okay for a few more days!, we just want to come to an agreement with you as you are the spokesperson for the others”, calmly uttered the Lion.

“Where is the Crocodile, he was the main negotiator from your side!”, said the Chief Buffalo, he didn’t hear any response and was able to make out that this is not that is of concern to these guys at this stage. Also the Crocodile would take ages to get to the cave as well and would like to get back to his water hole as soon as possible making any discussion futile.

Chief Buffalo shrugged and waited for a few moments before answering, he had no idea how to respond. The prying eyes were piercing his being and he had to come up with a solution. He cleared his throat making a throttling sound and said that “The issue did cross his mind, we were vary of this situation all through the day but did not imagine that you would get to the subject so soon.” he said. “Before I go any further, I would like to ask for security of my herd and only then I would discuss this matter.”, he bleated. It seemed everyone was looking for security for their kind only, what was this truce all about anyway?

“You are safe as one of us!”, said the King Lion, “You know we cannot go into the other areas to hunt for the fear of being attacked by our rivals so we offer you full security, we have to ensure the continuity of all the strong species if you know what I mean”.

“Obviously King Lion, the jungle has always been about the survival of the tough ones so let us discuss this matter tomorrow morning!” said the Chief Buffalo.

“I do not think that we have time until tomorrow morning to start the discussion!”, said the laughing Hyena. “Its better this issue is decided right away as some of us would be hungry in the morning and there shouldn’t be any damage caused to anyone if you know what I mean?” he said sternly. The hint was well understood by the big Buffalo and he nodded in agreement. Although in hindsight he had heard the King Lion say that they wont be hungry for a few days but it wasn’t the time to bring this up.

“What do you have in your mind?”, he said.

“If we had anything in our mind then we wouldn’t have been in this mess in the first place!”, said the King Lion.

The Chimpanzee was observing the whole scenario hanging from the safety of the baobab tree, he knew exactly where the discussion was heading so he intervened. “Shall I tell you guys about someone who can be useful in this case?” he chimed in.

Everyone looked up in surprise, they didn’t invite the primate in this important session and why would they? Monkeys were a nuisance and trouble makers but something in the air got them thinking and they conceded to his advise.

“First of all can anyone inform me whose idea was it in the first place to create this armistice”, he asked.

They were all bewildered to hear this question and looked at each other with a blank face, there were no answers.

“Let me tell you my friends, it was the warthog that had whispered this idea as you were all culling his family in great numbers and he was just getting squashed by the big 5!” he informed. He continued “Even the Elephants, Rhinos and Buffalo were not giving them space at the water hole, that is when the blind old razorback gathered his flock and sent an emissary to all of you preaching the lesson of peace and tranquility so they can have some time to rest.” He concluded by saying that “We observed all this from a distant while you were all made to listen to their surreal talks in the shade of the Mopane Trees!.”.

They all remembered and the Buffalo felt bad ignoring their herbivore friends, now that the peace deal had been brokered they had to abide by it and at the same time they had to come up with a solution as well. This was the right time to call them and render his apology he thought but went against his instincts. Maybe he will do so once he is done from this meeting, little did he know that this time would never arrive.

What shall we do was the question again, the Buffalo could feel the restlessness now and that meant just one thing, either he makes or recommends a proposal or would end up soon as a meal for the big cats.

“Shall I tell you something of interest my family!”, said the Chimpanzee?

“My family! is this treaty going to degrade us so much that the bloody monkey would refer to us as his family?”, murmured the Leopard! , “Go ahead tree guy!”, he said suppressing his disgust and anger, there was a stifling feeling down his throat saying these words. How much did he loathe these filthy creatures, even the look was revolting but their meat was so tender especially the young ones. How he loved chasing them from the water holes up to the tree tops and ripping them apart; those were the days he thought.

“There are a few of my advanced kind living in the city, as you know they are called humans, my cousin knows them and they seem to have a solution for every problem and if you allow me then I would make a contact with them for us?” he asked.

There was a lot of hesitation among the animals at the mention of man. These humans have been hunting them across the year and in numbers that has been unmatched. No one could ever understand why they killed. They would slaughter an entire elephant and just take away its tusk, the horn of the rhinos and the skin of the lions. They killed everything that moved and at times they would just make the animals unconscious and take them somewhere. No one trusted these wild beasts for their unending appetite and were about to shrug the idea when they heard the howls of the wolves. The Chief Buffalo understood that someone nearby was getting hungry and he had to make a quick decision before things go out of hand. At times emotions do precede common sense and ones personal benefits take precedence over collective idealism even if one is entrusted by the masses to represent them.

“Yeah, I think this is a brilliant idea!” said the Chief Buffalo and raised his hooves as if admiring Chimpanzee’s plan. “Go ahead and get going and make sure that the human comes back with you!”, he said.

“I will leave right away.”, the Chimpanzee knew well that the human would help him against the animals if need be as he is their closest relative; a mirage that was passed on to him by his ancestors.

Little did he know that the human was friend to no one, not even to his own kind. The wars and devastation he has unleashed on his brothers has been parallel to none. Man was territorial, more territorial than any of the wild animals in the Savannah. His other problem was hoarding, an animal hunts and gets his fill, even leaves the left overs to the scavengers but man, oh no; he has big cold boxes where he stores food for months and is always afraid of starvation. Even with supplies to last a generation, he would still be greedy and look for opportunities for more. If he possessed power then it was necessary that he shows it and proves his strength. Who is stronger than the Lion in the jungle, but when he is full, every animal can graze within his reach and he wouldn’t be bothered. The Chimpanzee was taking a major chance and he hoped that this was better be worth it. He had seen the human with his fire stick sending burning rocks that killed elephants and lions alike. The human was their biggest adversary and the most savage animal that they had ever come across.

“When do you think you will be able to get back to the jungle, monkey?”, asked the Leopard, as usual swallowing his disgust.

“Excuse me sneaky cat my name is Chimpanzee and not monkey, do you understand that?” , he said safely from the canopy of the tree, he hated the Leopard and his eyes could not conceal it. “I am leaving now and would take some time to get there, I am not like some idle animal who take their meals and then sleep for days on tree tops.”, the reference towards the Leopard was obvious but it was better to leave it at that.

The Chimpanzee took off jumping from the trees in the direction of the place that would be lit in the night.

In the meantime the animal council recessed waiting for the news from the city and went ahead to their respective resting places. However, there were a few incidents in the dark. The wild dogs stole the newborn warthog cubs, all 9 of them. The blind Lioness made good of the opportunity and devoured the baby Zebra that had wandered near her den. Crocodiles were the most vile with taking down the flock of flamingos with the pretext that the birds weren’t full time members of the society but rather were migratory; how well they found loopholes in the system that gad just been implemented a few hours ago. The sneaky ant eater also snacked away at the green hills with high mounds inviting protein rich insects. Who said insects were a part of the deal, huh! A night of deceit continued albeit giving a notion of peace and prosperity for all. Everyone knew what was going on but took as if nothing was happening. The night fell dark and even the stars disappeared in the stifling heat, it was time to sleep.

The Chimpanzee had a ball of a time in the town with his fellows. They were in a place called the Circus enclosed in cages and he couldn’t make out why they liked staying there. He would peep through a large canopy where thousands of humans would gather in the evening and in the center there were all sorts of animals doing things that he could have never imagined. Elephants standing on hind legs, Lions and other big cats jumping through rings that were alight with fire and many others. His kind were acting as a human and every time they would do something silly the crowd just broke into a frenzy of laughter, the primates were the butt of all jokes for the humans whereas other animals created the sounds of awe and bewilderment from them. The show ended late and he sneaked to the area where the cages were kept avoiding any contact with the humans. Just when he was about to duck under a crate, a fat female human saw him and released a shriek so loud and blood curling that he froze in his footsteps. “A monkey on the loose, a dangerous monkey on the loose!”, she yelled. There was commotion, a deadly stampede ensued, trampling humans and articles alike and the Chimpanzee thought that this was the end; it also dawned on him how afraid the humans are of free animals and cringe at the site of anything that roams free other than them. He had frozen in his footsteps while people were crying and running amok, he heard people shout, “We just saw a couple of Lions as well!”, others had apparently seen something called a Tiger and yet there was talk about Elephants destroying the tents. And suddenly there was a sort of cloth that covered him and he was snared, he tried his best but could not move an inch; he was caught. He landed in the cage with a thud and felt his back broke into a million fragments, this is when he blacked out.

“Wakey Wakey little monkey, time to get ready to meet your brothers and sisters”, Chimpanzee saw unfamiliar faces staring at him with a surprised glance. “Who the hell are you guys?” he said. They spoke in tandem, “We are your kind, slaves to the man to enrich him and to make him popular, you would also join us and be a part of the circus!”. “What?” ,he exclaimed.

“I have come here to help my fellow animals stuck in the jungle and you expect me to dance and wear human clothes and act like him, I have to leave right away.” ,he said. Chimpanzee started to howl and tried his best to break away from the cage, all he could achieve was exhaustion and a terrified look from other primates. Rage turned into grief ending in exhaustion and finally resignation to ones fate, he knew that this was the end and now because of his silly initiative the whole jungle would starve. “Can anyone please help me?”, anyone and I would be willing to provide a reward unmatched, something that none of you have ever seen”, he said. There was an eerie calm in the cage and all he could receive were some banana peels shoved to him from the other primates. Just then an old baboon walked up to him and whispered that he should calm down and tell him his story. What he heard was a sure ticket to his freedom, at last his dreams would come true before he is dead.

“You did good Roy, catchin’ that Chimp, we can sell it off to the zoo to make some money, what says you?” Roger hunkered next to him and yelled in his usual shrill voice. Roger was the owner of the dwindling “Hercules Circus” and was struggling to keep his business afloat. He knew the very meaning of exploiting both humans and animals alike for a quick profit but with the new technology and an appetite for home order entertainment his business was all but set to die. He was already feeding the horses and donkeys to the big cats and next was the turn of giraffes and zebras. “How good were the old days when we would run three shows a day and still everything used to be sold out and now, now getting enough people on a weekend is a challenge” he murmured to himself. Roger had a rapacious appetite for money and he would get agitated by the smallest of things, unfortunately it was his sidekick Roy who would get the brunt of his tantrums. He got up, lit a joint and walked towards the cages, he passed the frail old lions, the tired tigers, the one eyed panther and overweight bears before halting next to the monkeys. He wanted to see his latest catch and was wondering how much he can earn from the zoo or the pharmaceutical companies carrying out regular tests on animals. He had settled on calling the fat pharma manager before he heard someone calling his name, “Hey Roger, wanna make some extra bucks?”, the voice was coming from the monkeys but who was it? He moved closer to the cage and stared at the old baboon, he was indeed talking.

Back in the jungle the animals had started to get agitated, what was taking the monkey so long? The worst reactions are coming from the sincere parties who were not breaching the law and had started to starve. We need action and we need it now, the herd of herbivores, although were affected during nightfall had started to feel the crimson in the eyes of the hunters. There was no reason for cancelling the truce at this stage. The council, well this is what they had started to call the elders, decided that if the Chimp did not return in three days then the agreement would stand null and void.

“What money are you talking about old friend? “, asked Roger. The old baboon told him the predicament of the Chimp and how Roger can reverse his fortunes in a nick of time. All he had to do was to supply meat to the jungle and in return, what in return he asked. “You can demand whatever you desire master, tusks, hide, horns for the Chinese, whatever there is to desire would be in your control!”, he said. “And why would they give all this to me?”, he enquired. The old hand chuckled and said that they did not have a choice, the whole neighborhood of jungle is looking up to the Chimpanzee and his kind and their failure would bring shame and embarrassment. I will guide you all the way under one condition, “You will set me free once this whole drama is done and from now on I will not participate in any of the stupid circus acts!”. Roger wanted to prod more but politely said “You were always the smart one dear monkey, you know how much I have always respected you?”. “Hell yeah I know crap what you respected me, just make a promise and you will take me to every trip and in the last of these voyages I will stay behind and spend my last days in the jungle”, he yelled.

“You have a deal dear monkey, in fact you are free to roam the circus unattended from now on and welcome to eat whatever you feel like.”, said Roger. Yo Roy! “come here and get Mr. Bab out of the cage right away!”, “Roy you lazy ass get here now”. Roy came running with the bunch of keys and shushed other primates and got the Baboon, now Mr. Bab out of his enclosure. Chimpanzee called out to the Baboon but all he could see was a wink. Something was being planned and he sure was a part of it.

Mr. Bab trotted out of the enclosure and felt compunction doing so, how can he get out and let the others rot in the den? But then this is the rule and maybe he can negotiate the release of others as well. He started to walk in an unknown direction before he heard the cock of a shotgun, he knew what this meant. “I am just trying to enjoy the feeling of freedom”, said the Baboon.

“You will have many more days and opportunities to do that Mr. Bab”, said Roger. Baboon noticed for the first time that there was a huge gash on his forehead from some accident and he kept rubbing it feverishly as well, he had never been so close to the boss before. “Tell me the deal so we move ahead!”, he said.

“The Chimp you caught today is your ticket to freedom and riches boss, he has come to present a proposition that would be music to your ears!”, he paused for a moment to register Roger’s facial expressions. Sensing that he should continue he said “There is a certain truce in the jungle and they made a mistake of getting it done in too much of a hurry, that done, now they think that a human can solve their problem, and thank your stars that a great human like you has been selected, the game is in your hand.”.

Recent rationing of bananas and disappearance of animals had the primates thinking that there was something critically wrong and this was now his chance to save himself.

Roger again yelled at Roy and asked him to get the Chimp down to his office. “Make sure he doesn’t run away, bring him with grace and honor and call him Chimp and not monkey, you hear me, you low life son of a dog!” he barked.

“Yes Sir, I will be back in a whiz”, Roy hated Roger for everything he stood for but being the dumb ass he was, he had no where else to go and with no vocation had nothing to lean back upon. He was bad with animals and humans alike but was known to be Roger’s tout and confidant, he in turn was hated by all animals and humans in the circus alike. It was his habit to tease the beasts whenever he would and the big cats were always his favourite target. While passing the cages he made sure to poke the sleeping tigers with the pointed stick he was carrying, pulled the lions tail that was dangling out through the bars and threw dust in the eyes of the jaguar. Their roars broke the silence and peace of the night and the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the animals had gone hungry that day. There had been nothing to feed them after a long and tiring day. Roy with his immaturity had forgotten that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for its not the same river and he’s not the same man, he had overheard a colleague tell him once but he had simply shrugged it off. The look on the face of the Jaguar was clear, a single and slightest opportunity and he will rip Roy apart.

A few more killings took place in the meantime in the jungle, quietly and with stealth, a crime where the weak and the sick were left alone to be devoured by the cats and the canines. The packs and herds were already breaking apart giving away the sense of community and sacrificing their loved ones for the good of all, it was a crime but sometimes we just convince ourselves that all is well while the world crumbles around us, as long as we are safe, everyone else can burn and die for all we care, even our loved ones.

Roy walked idly to the primate cages and peeked inside. “You there Monkey?” he called out deliberately, he wanted to break Roger’s commands even its for an instance, he took immense please in throwing a few stones in the cage to ensure his presence is felt. A few eyes glowed in the dark, piercing through him, asking unwanted questions. “Which monkey are you looking for you loser, asked a voice”?, “You mother f***** son of a w****, how dare you call me names, you think you’ll get something to eat tomorrow now that you have opened your mouth!”, Roy yelled. “I want the new jungle Chimp, come on out, the boss wants you now!” he called out. Chimpanzee jumped to his feet and darted to the door only to be severely poked by a sharp object, he cringed in pain. It was Roy with his usual antics, making his presence felt. Roy opened the door and tied a rope around his neck tightly, he was almost choking him but then something told him to go easy and he asked the Chimpanzee about his predicament. He told him the whole story that basically flew through him and not understanding the opportunity he kept dragging him to Roger’s tent. Just a few feet before entering he loosened the rope and then ushered him in.

“Welcome, welcome Mr. Chimpanzee, please be our guest, have a seat and make yourself comfortable, shall we offer you something to eat?”, Roger passed on the tray full of fruit to the Chimpanzee that he ate without giving a second thought. He didn’t even know what he was eating but he wanted food, he really wasn’t bothered about the other primates starving in the cage that he had just left behind. He also saw the Baboon reclining on a chair toying with an apple. “Well thank you sir, I really needed this after two days of starvation.” he said. “So what do you have for us, my dear friend? Mr. Bab says that you have come with an offer for me?” said Roger.

Chimpanzee related the whole story to Roger with details about the pact as well as the urgency of the situation and pleaded for his help in finding a solution for them. “What’s in it for me monkey, I mean Mr. Chimpanzee!”, he enquired. “Sir you are the top animal we are told, the one who can think and manufacture things, the one who is capable of waging peace and prosperity, your kind is there making buildings and flying in the air. I am sure that you will have the solution to save our jungle for the sake of goodness and the earth.”, he pleaded. “Sure, sure, sure, why not, this is my responsibility to ensure this and I will definitely accompany you!” said Roger. He had started to chart his plan of action, he knew exactly what to do and the riches were within his reach, so close that he could almost touch it.

“We will depart at day break, Roy you jerk, tell everyone that they are fired and the circus is closed now for good”, no wait, let me speak to the team in the morning and then we depart!”. He was getting distracted with excitement and asked both the Chimpanzee and Baboon to rest in his tent while he runs a few chores. For security, he had to tie them with a long rope so they can walk around but at this stage he couldn’t take a chance.

At day break Roger called up the whole circus, his team of around 50 people, everyone from acrobats, clowns, animal keepers, cooks and extras and announced that they were about to change the whole business model. He asked them to be patient while he makes a trip to the forest. He promised them riches beyond their imagination and a life of luxury coming to them soon. No one believed him because he was known to be deceptive and a liar to all but they had no choice, they had spent their whole life in confinement, they were no different from the animals in the show.

“I know you guys are skeptical but this time you guys have to trust me for a change, I will be departing today and I need the wrestlers with me for security!”, he said. There was something in his voice that assured them that finally this would be real, a little ray of hope from somewhere dark.

“Gather all the animals folks as we will be taking them to freedom, a life that they deserved after serving us for so long, after putting smiles on the faces of thousands, this is eventually time for them to roam in the free and feel the earth. They will be so happy and would spend the rest of their lives where they belonged all this time.”, I am so thankful to them for all these years of serving us, let us say a big thank to them by giving them a hearty breakfast and then we will drive them all to their new home!”, Roger announced heartily.

Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Horses, Monkeys, Lions, Tigers (Although they didn’t belong to Africa but who cared), Bears (Also no place for them in them in the open) and last but not least goats, yes a lot of goats; all the animals were fed well after a long time and then the caravan started to snake towards the open wild, it was a day’s trip. Even if his negotiations fail he would still be getting rid of these vermin eating up whatever little savings he had left. The people from animal welfare were making his life difficult and then there were the veterinarian’s charges every month. The staff bade farewell to the animals they had loved all these years and through the fog of tears they saw the wagons disappear into the horizon.

“Where is he?”, murmured the Hyena with a irritable laugh, “he must be on his way soon before I lose my cool and attack these motley midgets”, he was referring to the young spring bucks playing about chiseling his ravaging territorial appetite. He thought of going to the Crocodiles to ask for their opinion but remembered an old saying to “Never ask the advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.”

Things had started to get a bit chilly now and it was necessary that the Chimpanzee makes it on time, end of the third day was approaching and this could mean the difference between survival or an orgy of blood.

Roger and his entourage halted at the border of the jungle, it was a bit before sunset, the third day was about to end and every click of the second was calling out for the launch of the past. Animals had started to get excited with the anticipation of freedom, they couldn’t believe that this was all so close. We tend to think of our lives at times as a mess and drool on the life on the other side of the fence not knowing what awaits us. Its important to get out of slavery but a level of planning, if possible is required. Otherwise we jump from the frying pan into the fire with no where else to turn. Chimpanzee was anxious as well to get back to his pack and at least warn them if the deal would not go through.

“You can go now and call up the animals so we can talk, I will wait here for a few hours and in case you do not show up then I am gone, do you understand this?”, muttered Roger. He then flung his shotgun and fired at a nearby tree blowing up its branches, the signal was clear to the Chimpanzee as he understood very well the repercussions of making wrong moves or in case he won’t come back. A person like Roger was fully capable of turning all animals into shredded meat. He had seen humans a few times in the past killing animals from a distance and just taking a few body parts from the carcass leaving the rest to rot; he never understood the senseless killing but then he was a simple monkey, he was not supposed to know so much. He bowed to Roger and promised to come back at the earliest, somehow his assurances weren’t convincing enough but he was let go.

He leapt through the branches and ran, not even stopping to catch a breath, he visualized the Leopard chiseling his paws ready to pounce on his tribe and decimating it with his unnerving ferocity. The apparent and imaginary cries of his lot made him make it to the Lion’s den just in time before sunset. There was much cheering and jubilation on his arrival and because he did not seek to go to a safe spot to speak, brought in a sense of satisfaction that something decent has been achieved.

The Lion roared, “What is it that you have brought, monkey? You just made it in time as I could see my friend, the Leopard eyeing your family for dinner.”, there was arrogance and hunger lingering in his voice. He was usually the most polite in discussions and if he were getting agitated then how about the others, they would be getting ready to go back to their old bad habits of killing.

“The human waits you at the entrance of the jungle, he has brought gifts for you from his show and then he also has a solution to all our problems!”, he exclaimed. His voice was floundering and with a shaken demeanour he asked them to accompany him. It was late but the excitement of the encounter made them walk the distance. The Lion, Hyena, Leopard, Buffalo and the Eagle went along. Crocodile was too slow to catch up and would have delayed the whole thing anyway. Only when they all started walking the Chimpanzee realized how far he had traveled to get there earlier.

A few hours into daybreak they reached the destination and were welcomed by the howls and shrieks of animals enclosed in cages. When their eyes met, a sudden silence descended with terror in the eyes of the animals inside the enclosures. There was something eerie in the air of the free animals that made them extremely uncomfortable. Pacing relentlessly in his enclosure, the Lions could sense an impending doom.

The visiting party stopped a bit away from the enclosures while the Chimpanzee went ahead to speak to Roger. He found Roger, Roy and the rest of the troops awake fighting away with the mosquitoes, it was quite a satisfying site considering the past few days of pain he had endured with them in the city. “They are here!” he called out. Roger sprang from his slumber and couldn’t believe that the Chimp was back. He was sure that the monkey was gone and that he would simply do his deed in the morning and would get back. This had been a pleasant surprise.

“Am I glad to see you Mr. Chimpanzee, I was sure that you would be coming around this time!” he lied through his teeth.

“I had promised you didn’t I, you thought I was joking all this time!?” he whispered. “Come along with me to meet the committee so we can close this discussion altogether, and bring the Baboon with you as well,” he said. He remembered the kindness of his friend and did not want to leave him alone.

The trio approached the committee cautiously as Roger remembered that the animals might have been hungry, he made sure that Roy and a few others followed them at a safe distance with loaded shot guns. “You can never be sure of these creatures!”, he mumbled to himself, better be safe than sorry.

The two parties faced off in a little while and the demeanour of both made each other easy. One party was hungry and unsure of its future, wanting to forego the the legacy of their ancestors while the other being greedy and smelling the broad opportunity that the interaction was about to bring. Human versus Animal, just that no one knew who was civilized and who was wild.

“Welcome Mr. Roger, we are so happy to receive you here in our territory, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for coming all the way and to help us resolve our problem!”, the lion said in a polite tone.

“I am glad to be here Sir!”, said Roger. “It had always been a dream for me to meet the great beasts of the jungle; as you can see I have your kind with me in the circus but they have been domesticated and were born in the city.”, moaned Roger.

He wanted to get to the point as he was hating every moment for being there. It wasn’t just the mosquitoes that were bothering him but the silence and occasional sounds of wild animals. He was a city man and had been used to making and hearing noises, the last time he had set foot in the wild was several years ago on a hunting trip with his father. He loved the site of dead animals with bullet holes with blood oozing from them, something his father wanted him to see and appreciate as well. “Son you need to be tough and nothing teaches you to be a man than hunting and carving an animal while its still alive!”, he had said. Roger never got to carve animals alive but learnt the art of doing so to humans with his acidic tongue lashing. His father had taught him to be tough, rude and unforgiving and he had learned all these lessons well. Even after his father had sliced open his mother in a drunken fit of rage, Roger had decided to stay with him knowing well that his mother was buried in the backyard under the cabbage patch.

If somehow we are able to leave all emotions behind and become ruthless in our approach, we easily ascend to levels above the mightiest of animals who stop after securing a kill but a man’s appetite is never fulfilled, not even by a hundred mountains of gold.

“I think I have a perfect proposition for you but as you are engaging me to take this precious and holy task for making this place a one of kind model for the world, I would also like to ask what is there for me to gain in this? I am sure you would have thought a bit about it, did you?”, Roger placed his question strategically.

The committee was surprised as they did not think of this option at all, they were in the wild and the laws of nature defined their lives. It had never been a give and take relationship between them. A Deer did not eat a Lion once his kind was devoured by the big cat, the circle of life continued. “You tell us what you need Sir, and then we talk”, they said in tandem.

“I am a simple man and would only like to request to take animal carcasses and maybe chop some trees, whatever I do would not disturb you at all.”, “maybe some of the birds might feel uncomfortable at times but no harm to you!”, uttered Roger.

“And how about addressing our needs in terms of meat for the carnivores, what is your suggestion for us to continue”, asked the Lion.

“I understand that you are all territorial and do not mind eating similar animals from other areas, correct?, I just want to get clarity and make some notes?”, Roger was carefully carving out a plan for his retirement. Everything was almost in reach and he knew exactly what he had to do.

“We wouldn’t mind this at all, but how are you going to arrange this?”, said the Lion.

“Being your absolute well wisher I would like to propose a balanced diet for you and to start with, I have these animals in the carts ready to be served to you. Would you like these to be dead or shall we set them free to be hunted by yourselves, your call?” Roger said cheerily.

The committee saw the poor beasts in the carts and knew well just by the looks that they were innocent of even doing the menial task of thinking. They would make a nice meal for quite a few days while the human would think of something else. They did not realize that killing their own kind today would suppress their hunger for now but how about the next time, maybe they would also become victims of this plan. But, the colorful gestures and assurances from Roger had put their worries at rest.

“Yes by all means, how do we begin and what shall we do for now?”, they asked excitedly.

“I will drop the animals next to the water hole while you take me to the site of the dead elephants and the rhinos, I will collect a few items and would leave. I will then come back in a few days with the next lot of food for you”, “I will leave my beloved Baboon and associate Roy as an assurance and believe me, you have a great and a bright future”, Roger said joyously.

The committee went back to the jungle to inform the others taking Baboon with him and the carriages were moved near the water hole. In a few hours when the sun rose above their heads, the doors were opened and the beasts were let go. There were tears of getting separated after all these years and with a heavy heart they all descended and started to walk. A strange site of Lions, Tigers, Zebras, Giraffes and others walking in a straight line walking towards the water hole to quench their thirst. No self respecting wild animal ventures in this heat but these weren’t wild, they were circus creatures who had spent their whole lives doing a certain act and now forced to do something totally different and dangerous but all this time thanking their tormentors. Their master has had his fill and now was going to enrich himself even at their death.

The men walked to a distance after bidding farewell and pushed the carts in the water hole. There was a great splash with each cart entering the murky waters disturbing the resting Crocodiles and the Hippos. The men had gone quite far the last time these animals looked back. The first thing to hit them was a revolting smell coming from the water hole, they were used to drinking clean buckets of water and what they had just encountered was disgusting to say the least. They still tried to get a drink as this is how wild was supposed to be they thought. The taste was worse than the smell and most of them started to puke and howl. And just then….

The Tigers leaped in the water and were ripped and shredded by the Crocodiles.

Lions came in, even at this time of the day and took care of the Zebras.

The Leopards, even being a solitary animal came with a group and took the horses.

Wild dogs ate the two Giraffes.

Goats became an easy meal for the Jackal’s and the Coyote’s.

And the Lions, well the Hyenas made away with the Lions. When the dust settled all of Roger’s circus animals were dead. The birds of prey were making do with the remains. The Herbivores saw with disgust and relief, a special feeling ensuring their safety and went back to their grazing and slumber. After all the animals did not belong to their tribes.

Roger went and pulled out and cut the Elephant tusks and Rhino horns. He was profusely thanked by the animals for this foresight and intelligence. Roy, even protesting was left behind with the big cats and in the present condition he was terrified yet he imagined a life of luxury. It would be a week before Roger came back.

When we think of ourselves negating everyone else around, this tunnel vision creates a silo of protection; not knowing that a doom awaits us as well. Safety is not just in numbers but also to look after our own kind even from another region or a tribe. Inviting someone from outside to solve our problems only instigates it more…..the animals weren’t ready for what was next to come.

Roger was back in a week with lorries full of white meat, this was broiler chicken from a nearby factory. It wasn’t any ordinary chicken but the dead ones that were usually bound for an incinerator. Roger had picked these up for free and the factory had also paid him for the transportation as otherwise they had to dispose these according to the Municipality laws. Isn’t just great to have a solution to your problem walk up to you, the foregone cost of disposing the chicken would only help the bottom line of the factory. For the next week Roger had promised another factory to pick their dead livestock as well.

He properly placed the meat across the boundary of the jungle and invited the animals for the feast. Although not everyone enjoyed the taste but nonetheless it was food, there was also something funny in the flavour but then they were sure that Roger had a clear plan. In the meantime the herbivores kept their plan of eating and sleeping and kept getting lethargic by the day. While the animals munched on the meat, Roger and his team started to fell as many trees as they could destroying the nests and removing the much needed shade. The lorries were filled with the logs and they even took Roy back with them. The next week saw a load of read meat, dead cows and sheep, a little smelly but the menu had changed. More trees fell and the birds took flight to other directions. By the end of the first month, the site had totally transformed from a jungle to a plain. Fat and slow herbivores roamed the area while the once stealthy carnivores laid idle with aching bones and heavy heads. There was something in the meat that was making them sick. It was important for them to have a chat with Roger the next time he comes to the jungle.

Roger had a meeting with the owner of the chicken processing meat, the help rendered by him had already highlighted his services to the owners and now they had a special deal for him. A new growth hormone to speedily turn “Chick to Hen process” had been introduced with an even stronger antibiotic in the feed. The Municipality had refused testing the product on lab animals, forget testing it on humans. Inspectors were on site and the owners somehow wanted to bypass the process by getting it approved through a “3rd Party Expert”. There could have been no one better than Roger who was provided with a handsome down payment and a lot of “Test Chicken”. This had to be tested in control doses on “human and animal subjects, animals had to be of various types, it was stipulated”. The test results to be observed by one of the company associates and once submitted, Roger would received the balance payment.

A grand party was held at the circus site where all ex employees and their families were invited, people were even encouraged to call their friends as well. The “ One week Chicken Fest” with games and parties were held to commemorate their move to the new life. The menu included whatever the people fancied as long as it was chicken, the catch was that everyone had to register their weight and height and provide a blood sample. The excuse for that was that the company was concerned about their well being and would run a similar test after a month. Serious looking doctors were there to make sure that there was no suspicion of the act and the show went on. The only people not attending the festivities were surprisingly Roger and Roy who had to make a trip to the jungle to deliver the weekly meat as well as bring back logs for the local furniture plant.

The site looked serene without the trees at the entrance of the jungle and would become an ideal location for a thriving community with homes, schools and universities plus a superb 5 star resorts. Roger envisioned himself as a visionary and being garlanded by the leaders of his country. A once vagabond, and now a leader of the business community working for the greater good of civilization and conservation of wildlife. He dumped the chicken at the designated spots and waited for the animals to arrive. One by one they approached, limping, staggering at times to the white glowing meat. The rib cages protruding but stomachs all swollen up like the affected of a drought, they munched and went back to their places. The Lion who had earlier wanted to discuss the situation with Roger did not have the energy to do so. In the meantime Roger’s team under the direction of Roy chopped of the trees deep in the jungle making the rest of the eagles to fly away in an unknown direction. There weren’t any Vultures either this time around, the scavengers did not want to eat the meat being brought from the town. The herbivores in the meantime were becoming fat and lethargic without a need to run or walk as there were no predators. The cycle of life had stalled halting natural selection and now that the grass was also running out, the herds had started to make a move to neighbouring territories creating an adversarial situation with their own kind. Their ilk in the neighbouring lands were the ones driving them out now, so much for the new world.

A few weeks passed and the bank account swelled for Roger, he was now moving in expensive cars being showered with accolades from the pharmaceutical and poultry industry. The test results from his independent and accredited test labs had shown great benefits for humans and animals consuming chicken with improved technology. Roger was happy, the fat bosses of industry were happy and so were the bribed government officials. In the meantime, people were getting new ailments eating poultry in the city that was blamed on deteriorating air and water quality that needed immediate attention. Roger hired new experts to advise the government on initiatives to counter this growing problem. He also placed his circus staff at top management positions in strategic projects such as poverty alleviation and food processing in addition to his recent and growing business for furniture manufacturing.

In the jungle, things had turned dire. The big cats had developed several ailments and the other carnivores were too sick to hunt as well. As almost all useful trees had been chopped off, Roger had now forced them to accept weekly hunting trips where people would come in cars and shoot as many animals as they desired and in return there was the same rotten red meat or the poisonous white.

The Lion sat at his den and through his last breath spoke to the council that wasn’t feeling that well too, “We were fools to have gone against nature, there are things that are designed by God to run a certain circle and anyone trying to break that balance is poised to get into the sands of time”, he gasped for breath. The Baboon had survived the ordeal and had seen the carnage and drama, this wasn’t too different from what he had been through at the circus as well. He did not know his fate as the Chimpanzee, his only trusted friend had been killed by a Leopard of a neighbouring jungle when he had ventured too far in search of fruit for his family. The news had reached from grapevine to him, the local Leopards had died long ago from disease and the lack of trees, they weren’t land animals and had vanished. Somehow the Baboon was despised by everyone here, he was seen as one of the humans, their protege and a confidant although his hatred for the homo-sapiens was more than what the animals could have envisioned.

“Now that we sit and wait for our demise, there is no one but ourselves to blame! We were living the circle of life as was destined and had our ups and downs but it did not mean that we disturb the equilibrium of nature. We messed with the regular pace of things and then the same things came back to haunt us. The human did not come to us but it was us who went to them and they came in with their own plans and treachery. Now we bear the brunt of our bad decisions and the mighty jungle lays bare to the unending hunger of the top animal. We will all wither away with time and maybe someone somewhere would always remember; never trust man, animals us animals, the most outwardly ferocious are better than man” that said the Lion breathed his last.

During the next trip Roger could smell the rotting carcasses decaying in the water hole, there was no one left to receive his lot of medicated chicken. He had to think of another plan soon to ensure that the cycle of greed keeps running with the oil of ill gotten money, ill gotten through the decimation of species but the hunger of power and wealth knows no bounds. He moved in, appreciating his deeds as well by being able to claim thousands of hectares for his luxury housing project. He would name it the Wild Savannah with localities called the lions den, buffalo cove, the entertainment park would be called the “Water Hole” and so on. It was hard for him to contain his excitement.

From far off he saw someone approaching slowly towards him, was it the Baboon. He couldn’t believe his eyes, his old buddy was still alive and kicking. “Hey monkey, you are still alive? Can’t believe that you could weather this storm all the while. Where’s your Chimp friend?”, Roger said with a frown and a look that mocked more than showed any sympathy. But there was something in the eyes of this old primate that raised his suspicion and he shoved Roy to take a position ahead of him. The stupid boy with his old antics took a few stones and started to hurl it towards the coming primate. “You like it, haanh, don’t you love getting teased by your old buddy Roy, don’t you monkey, come look what have I got for you” Roy said in a funny monkey tone. He turned to grin at Roger but could not make out the look on his boss’s face, when he did turn he was ferociously attacked by the Baboon who had managed to jettison his fangs into his neck. Roy was yelping for help but Roger stood there enjoying the whole scene, maybe it was better for this stupid man to go down with his old animal pals after all. Baboon raised his head after finishing with Roy and just as he was about to make his next move he heard a loud bang and then it was dark, pitch dark.

From far above, in the stars, sitting with his friends he saw Roger moving to the next jungle and offering his services to the big cats, to begin with it were the herds of fat and slow grazers in their neighbouring jungles and once they were done with them, he would offer them delicious city meat. All he wanted in return from them were their dead animals.

This story is dedicated to the world, to the freethinkers and the ones out there feeling for a place for everyone.

Please get back to me with your comments at kazi.najib@playtorium.com