Ordeal or opportunity?
Jack was thinking about his children again, enhancing and magnifying the dangers with his mind.
“Will I fight against that leopard or will I chicken out?”
He never thought of himself as a fighter or as someone who can hit back, retaliate physically; no, not him.
”Sure, I will always protect my children,” he tries reassuring himself as he normally does whenever thoughts and pictures of possible dangers invade him, but he is not so sure if that works. Deep inside him, some other knowledge lays; it is hiding underneath layers of fears and ignorance, afraid to be tested and surface above. But the knowledge is there, and he is aware of its presence, waiting for the time and opportunity to use it. It’s the knowledge achieved directly through experience.
“I must go for a walk later, by myself and leave fear behind; I have to try!” this was his line of positive words for the side of him that was trying to make him stay at home.
Some people would argue back and say it isn’t chance or opportunity, but bad luck that brings you into testing your inner strength and abilities, but he knows it isn’t true. Life is a classroom and he is the loyal student, learning all the time, constantly. There is no ordeal, only intensive lessons. If you learn from them, they become the best lessons for you, but if you don’t, then it’s an ordeal and possibly will be repeated again in different forms and shapes. It was better to think this way, he always agreed, yet fear, was still an enemy, residing within him.
Now, this leopard was not anonymous any longer. It has been visiting the village at dusk and dawn, successfully hunting,mainly puppies, and sometimes, some small dogs too. There are hardly any dogs left around the village!
People drinking tea at the local chai shop saw the leopard once or twice strolling on the tarmac road, head forward and proud, marching as gentle and as smooth as a bunny rabbit, as if making some statements. These statements found a few versions by now among the regular tea drinkers at the only chai shop in the village. Through thoughtful moves on the chess board, playing or just observing, they found time to chat and exchange speculations.
“It was patrolling, looking for prey,” said one guy.
The chai shop owner, drying cups with a tea towel, volunteered sharing his observation “no man, on a tarmac road he marched, like a king telling us all, who is in control here!”
“I would rather think,” said a gentle skinny lady, overlooking the board, “that he was telling us he is only an animal, hungry, living in the wild, and this is what life is!”
All the versions were waved away swiftly as one early morning, the leopard attacked a human. The survivor, I will tell you now, so you won’t worry, gave such a fight with the help of the early morning risers, and survived the attack. The leopard, defeated, ran away, and the man fainted from shock rather than from loss of blood.
People in the village were talking about it.
The newspapers had it covered on the front pages. The Animal Rescue unit came up to the mountains full of excitement, which was shattered and changed into statements of fear like, fuck man, it tried hunting a man! Should we be here?
Jack,a father of two kids, was still thinking how he should feel or rather how to sort the already existing messy thought patterns and feelings he was having.
“There is nothing to sort, “says his female partner. “Make sure our children are never at risk and worries will not enter our nest!”
“I feel it is limiting my freedom,” confessed Jack to himself. “I want to walk the forest, I want to take all the paths and cool under any shade at any time. He was getting angry and agitated. He had to go and take a walk. When he has these feelings, he ignores his fears but makes sure he goes alone.
“You see that mountain far away?” he pointed at somewhere far in the distance, “I am going up there to smoke this joint and I will be back by half past six, just before it gets dark.”
Off he went and it was her now that needed to sort all those fears and feelings, which immediately rose in her when he left. Luckily, some house tasks and a light stroll to the chai shop with the kids, with a chat over sweet scented chai, made her put those worries aside and the time passed fast. As she and the kids were heading back home, jack appeared, emerging behind the field’s wall. He was panting heavily. He pretended to collapse on the grass, spreading his limbs all over, just before having to fight those wild hugs of his two boys. He was happy to be back home.
Jack was one of those lucky guys that see bad luck as a chance to test his personal wisdom. He tries answering questions like, what is life about. What was about to happen was sheer chance that was taken well and for sure not bad luck. It depends how you choose to see things.
The leopard came back with some human blood stains on its teeth and tongue. It could not resist tasting it again but knew it must aim at a smaller prey if it wants to ravish itself.
It was early morning, maybe quarter to eight, but the clouds were heavy and the air was cool, that it felt as if it was early dawn.
Jack had already been back from fetching the buffalo milk, which was already in the process of boiling and sterilizing. The kids, hungry as usual, were nagging him for their healthy oats porridge. All jack wanted was to smoke outside, letting the breeze cool his head. It was neither sweat nor heat he needed cooling; it was his mind with the never ending thoughts, occupying him night after night and especially last night.
It was three am last night when he had woken up, needing to urinate. Not being able to resist the nearly full moon, he had stepped out, outside their forest hut and sprayed his waters on the dry earth. As he finished and was about to close the door behind him, he heard a cat purring in the distance, yet this purr was not a simple meow. It was a sound so high and powerful, making his body shiver. Quickly, he shut the door, bolting it well, running around the house, securing windows and the back door. He could not hear the purr again but now he named it a roar. He could not go back to sleep, tossing and turning in bed, thinking too much.
When the morning finally came, he woke up, realizing he did manage to fall asleep but he was feeling groggy, as if he had been drinking alcohol all night. Even the early morning short walk to fetch the buffalo milk did not help calm his mind. He managed to escape the porridge making task. Standing on the steps by the front door, smoking, he heard the boys singing in the kitchen with their mother, and then going out, to the back yard, to play. He felt fear again mixed with extreme tiredness.
“I am not fit enough to protect my family,” he dared admitting it to himself, but this loud thought was cut sharp by the loud human scream coming from the back.
He ran like a strong wind through the front door and out from the back door into the bloody scene. The leopard had his three year old son’s leg in its mouth, pulling him away. There was a helmet on the boys head as he was previously practicing riding his new bike. Jack did not think. His hands went automatically on the axe; Gripping it tightly. He sprinted, caught up with the leopard and lashed the axe into its back. There was more blood but the leopard being so strong and so hungry, determined to chew human meat, did not let go of the boy’s leg and was still trying to drag him along the path into the forest. Jack left the axe in its back and threw himself on the leopard, tightly clutching his hand around its neck. He felt immensely strong, unbelievably powerful and pressed even tighter.
It was all a matter of a few minutes when the leopard decided to let go of the boy’s leg. Jack released its neck from his tight grip on it, and the leopard took off, collapsing twice but finally diapered behind the trees with the axe still in its back.
Jack lifted his white faced child, hugged him like he had never done it before and down on his knees he went, thanking life for treating him so well. His wife and other son had finished screaming by now and were beside him weeping forever, so it seemed.
Treating the deep wound on the leg was not difficult but the wound in the boy’s heart, for a while, was not reachable, but progress was there. They needed time, and sure enough, the boy, in his own pace, managed to smile here and there, managed to talk about what had happened and hugged his dad so tightly, calling him my super dad. Jack though of life now so positively. He saddened to see the fear on the kids’ faces but his heart did not meet sorrow.
No doubt, they moved and went living by the sea, learning the ways of the waves and the paths of the snakes in the jungle. Jacks memory of the might he possessed while saving his son from the teeth of the leopard, was filling him with immense white light. He could never forget how powerful he became when it came to saving his child. Nothing was in his way, not his laid back manners, not his tiredness nor his nonstop fears and for sure, not even a leopard!
He looked at his kids with love; love that engulfed him and made him feel above what humanity is. He felt so incredibly happy that the white gleaming warming light, which filled his entire body, in time, healed his little boy, healed his other boy who witnessed the full attack, and healed his wife who had stood guard of their other child, screaming but holding a huge kitchen knife in her hand, about to strike too.