Little Clym stared into the heath as the bright lightning illuminated the sky and earth before him. His mother had told him not to touch the iron bars of the windows when there was lightning, so he took care not to touch it.
Clym hated the rains. He couldn’t watch his favorite Winnie the Pooh today, because whenever it rained, the power went. Another flash of white light poured from the sky blinding him for a few seconds. And then the sky roared in anger; the roar that left him running towards the kitchen, where the maid stood doing the dishes.
“Daisy, I am scared” cried Little Clym.
By noon, Daisy sat in the wooden stairs arranging Clym’s coloring books and wax crayons strewn across. Clym came and sat beside her.
“Will I be able to watch Claudius and Wildeve today?” inquired Clym with his eyes ready to accept any disappointment.
“I don’t think so, Clym. The main supply has been totally cut off. Your mother had called and asked to get the candles ready”
“So wont we have light at night?”
“Yes you will, but only candlelight”
Little Clym climbed up the stairs rather dejectedly, went to his aqua painted room and stood watching the heath again.
Daisy, realizing Clym’s unfortunate situation walked into the room with a lighted candle. “Clym, would you like to hear a story?”
Clym jumped up with a joy unnatural of him these days.
“Is it the one about the monkey and crocodile that you said last year?”
“No, this is about a farmer and his family”
The two sat beside the candle on the cold floor, the little one curiously staring into the other waiting for her to begin.
“Long long ago in a very distant village lived a farmer, his wife and their six months old son. They lived happily in their hut surrounded by paddy fields and bushes. One evening while returning from his work with the plough, the farmer heard a soft mewl from the bushes nearby. Curious at this rare cry, farmer ventured into the bush and found a baby mongoose. The farmer’s pity was aroused and he carried the tiny animal to his home.
“What is this? Where did you find it?” asked his wife when he entered the dwelling.
“It was lying in the bush injured in its hind leg. I thought we might keep it as pet for our son when he grows up” replied the farmer.
The farmer’s wife, though not completely satisfied with a new animal in her home living beside her baby son, did not refuse his decision. She was a loving woman after all, but she loved her son more than the baby mongoose.
Months passed and the baby mongoose grew strong and large, while the infant showed little progress in that direction. One day the farmer’s wife got ready to go to market to buy the weekly groceries and called to her husband “I am going to the market, please keep an eye on the baby and particularly on that mongoose. I am not sure if I am happy with the way it looks at our son these days”. Saying this, the woman walked away. Meanwhile the farmer oblivious of the baby and the home decided to take a stroll across the fields.
Hours passed, the woman returned from the market with two heavy bags of vegetables and other victuals. She walked into the entrance when she saw the mongoose waiting for her near the door. It’s face was smeared in blood, sending a shock to the woman.
You wretched animal! You killed my son!” she screamed.
In the spur of the moment, she dropped the heavy grocery bags on to mongoose and ran into the house. She went inside and saw her baby boy sound asleep, only to her relief. But as she scanned the room she found a huge viper lying dead, its head cut off. It took her few minutes to frame this into a logical narrative.
Realizing her error in actions, she ran to the door where the dead mongoose lay. She cried for having killed that animal which saved her son.
And that is the end of the story. Did you like it Clym?”
“I liked it, but I don’t want the mongoose dead. Why did she kill it?”
“She killed it because she feared that this animal might have caused the death of her beloved baby. Anybody would have done it. Even your parent’s would do the same.”
“But the story could have ended without the mongoose being dead!”
“No, because even if the mongoose managed to escape the woman’s fit of rage, it would never stay with the family anymore. It will escape from those dreaded people who tried to kill him for saving a life. Do you want to end the story like this?
“The mongoose, blessed with its quick reflex, managed to escape the heavy bags and ran into the bush. It kept running, feared for his life, until it reached a very dark forest. Gravely sad at its mistreatment in the hands of humans, it never went to people again. And it also asked the other mongooses not to get friendly with humans. That is why we don’t have mongooses as pets today”
That would have made this an even more sadder story than it is” said Daisy.
“What if the mongoose was only injured by the bags, like he was when the farmer found him as a baby? The farmer’ wife could have treated him and made him better. And then the farmer, his wife, son and the mongoose could have lived happily ever after!”
“Even if the mongoose lived with the family, it will never be able to trust the farmer’s wife again. What if she does something like this, at another event? She would always love her son and family more than anything else. And the mongoose would always have to fear for its life, suspecting the actions of the woman” explained Daisy.
“So mongoose’s death is unavoidable?”
“Yes, that’s right. When the story of the mongoose saving the baby from a vicious viper spread throughout the village, every villager started respecting mongooses. They no longer shooed these creatures away from the village. The farmer’s wife even built a small shrine in front of the hut to remember the sacrifice of the mongoose. This story passed down into generations and we still remember it.
See Clym, in life some things happen for a reason, however unacceptable those reasons are. For instance, the rains enabled you to listen to this story today. This is not about destiny, but it is more about how things are. Not all things are under our control. The events that happened to the farmer’s family were not under the control of his wife, nor the mongoose or even the snake. Maybe the mongoose’s death was the only way people thought, could instill and perpetuate hope.”
“Poor mongoose, it died without a cause” cried Clym.
“Now, who wants some cookies and milk?” asked Daisy with a smiling face.
The two held hands, climbed down the stairs and walked to the kitchen.
And the mongooses within us, undead by fortune, roams around blaming the farmer’s wife, stubbornly unaware of what made her do it.