By Anwar Iqbal
Drown, O people, drown. Do not try to escape. You cannot. Feel the burden of your sins. It will not let you swim. You never lived peacefully. So at least die peacefully. Let the water rise above your head and pull you down,” said the monster.
“I am no Noah. I have no boat. I cannot save any, man or animal. You followed me. Now pay the price,” the monster roared.
“But before you disappear, let me tell you a story. It is your story. Your indictment. You must hear it so that you know why you are dying.”
Once upon a time, there was a town with four neighbourhoods. Each had its own chief. They also had a chief protector to fight their real and perceived enemies.
All five knew magic. They could walk on water, eat fire and charm beasts. They could take a rabbit out of a hat and a hat out of a rabbit.
They could do many tricks, nothing useful though. I mean nothing that was useful for their people although whatever they did always benefitted them.
Everything they touched became theirs. They also seized what they did not touch. When they owned all there was to own in their town, they ventured out to seek more. They looted and plundered wherever they went.
They were smart, some would say cunning. Yet they had one drawback: they had no common sense. Common sense is for the common people, not for their chiefs.
So one day, while they were crossing a dense forest, they saw a heap of bones lying under a tree. They had never seen such bones. Some of the bones were larger than those of an elephant. Others were smaller than that of a rabbit. Some resembled a dragon’s teeth, others the backbone of a snake.
Some were sharp and pointed. Others were dull and heavy.
“Never saw such bones,” they said to one another. They inspected all the bones. Tested them with whatever tools they had in their magic bags. Argued over them for hours but could not decide what recent or prehistoric beast it was that died under the tree.
So they decided to try their magic.
“Let us bring it to life using our magic,” one of them said.
“Good, I will use my skills to assemble the bones into a skeleton,” said the other.
Then he chanted some incantation and charmed the bones into a skeleton.
All five inspected the skeleton but could not decide what it was.
So the second chief came forward and recited his mantra. When he snapped his fingers, flesh and skin grew on the skeleton.
The four chiefs and their protector inspected the skeleton again but failed to determine what it was.
The third chief tried his magic and caused the unknown beast’s heart to beat and pump blood. It was half alive.
This time they inspected the beast from every angle but could not solve the mystery.
So the fourth chief offered to try his charm. But before he could proceed, the chief protector said: “Let’s take some precautionary measure. How do we know it will not eat us when it comes to life?”
He climbed a large tree and hid behind its dense foliage. Aiming his weapon at the beast, he said: “I am ready.”
So the fourth chief took out a little box from his magic bag and put some powder into the beast’s nostrils.
First it moved its head, wagged its tail and then with a roar, it sprang to life. They had expected it to stand on its four feet, like most beasts do. But it was standing on its hind legs while his front legs stretched out like two huge and ugly hands.