A Bearish Dawn
Bears have many things in common with the humans, even the way they organise their conjugal fights and settle them. A story can be based on their mannerism: you change the name you have a story of humans! No wonder we have Panchatantra, ever so enchanting, ever so educative.
Man exercising supremacy over woman by hook or by crook is an old story; women trying to fight out this injustice is rather a modern development. It is the right thing to have happened for civilised living, nay for the survival of humankind.
My story is all about that—the gender inequality. It is bestial, straight from the animal kingdom.
I heard it from a person who had herself witnessed this, its every twist and turn that were enacted before her own eyes. So, let’s call it a true story.
It was roughly an hour before the first blush of morning, the coolest and the best part of a summer night that brought beauty sleep to one and all. Only oldies were readying to start their day so early leaving another night of insomnia behind. And what about bears? They were nocturnal and enterprising, and more so as the trees were now laden with delicious ripe mangoes.
So, at that salubrious hour of a summer dawn my storyteller woke up to the rustle of the dried leaves and looked through the window. And what a dinky little scene it was! There was a she-bear, happily perched on a stone and sucking at a ripe mango. She had taken a position like a human, supporting her hulk on her hind legs and handling the fruit with her forelegs! While relishing her fruit, she was in communication with somebody sitting at the top branch of the mango tree, probably guiding him where to go to pluck the sweet fruits. The language was bearish and the intonation frightful.
Mango tree was not climber-friendly, quite brittle at that, and the animal knew how to proceed. He was not risking his step right up to the end of the branch; he was rather content with shaking the tree with all his might. Result: all the ripe mangoes were falling onto the ground.
That day the she-bear did not behave her best. Standing on her hind legs, she just snorted her happy grunts and as she snorted happily, she took one mango after the other in happy relish.
The bear at the top of the tree knew what his partner was up to. She was greedy and incorrigibly so, but then he knew their partnership had, despite all odds, stood the test of time. A little adjustment here and a scuffle there—that was the way they had conducted themselves through the thick and thins of their wild existence. He was ready to remedy the aberrations, sometimes by persuasion but mostly by administering the doses of discipline.
Aha! What was that my storyteller was going to witness?
Now the bear fellow climbed down the tree, in a masculine huff and determined, took a club lying nearby, and came charging to his partner moving on his hind legs. He was furiously growling his bearish swearing as he started thrashing his partner mercilessly. The poor she-bear was really at the receiving end and she had almost accepted her guilt. Crying bitterly she was pleading for mercy and thus the scuffle reached a high pitch.
People gathered around the fence. They were half sleepy and half curious. It was a bearish scuffle, no less than a human crisis, and it appeared as if all those gathered there were only too willing for fashioning a settlement between the bear partners. But the question remained: who would coax them to silence.
The bears were not bothered that the day had already dawned; they were not afraid of the combined might of the people assembled. Their only concern was to behave as per the bearish norm.
In time, the bear mellowed down. He ate a couple of mangoes and then hugged his partner. Now they had settled their differences. It was time to leave for their wild abode.____________________________________________
A. N. Nanda
Labels: short story