(Since books are history)
Then there was the forest where after the long rule of the fox the lion became the king. The whole forest was overjoyed. There was partying day and night.
The fox and his friend the crow was not happy. For long they had ruled the jungle. They had extracted and exploited from every animal living there. They helped man cut down half the forest in exchange of a chicken every day. The fox was old and couldn’t hunt. Moumou, the Fox. Bka the Crow….
A few days after the new king was crowned, one fine morning the crow flew over the new road and started croaking very loudly, “The deer is dead! The deer is dead! Oh God! What a disaster!”
In no time a crowd formed on the new road. There lay the old deer who died the previous night. It was clear that the local forest safari cars which pass through the forest had accidentally hit him. It was true that the accidental deaths in the forest had gone up. Since the time the fox in his rule had got into the back-door agreements with men to hack down the forest and build dams and roads. It was indeed very sad and tragic. They mourned for sometime before donating the body to the hyena group in the forest.
That night the crow flew over to Ibn Baboon, the wise.
Ibn Baboon was the most respected and intelligent member of the forest. He could make sounds from his throat which left everyone spellbound. And his acrobatics on trees was a treat. Now he had grown old and wise. And everyone came to him for advice…
The crow whispered, “Today a deer died in accident. The king is not doing his job. The forest has become very unsafe”
“Hmm…. I knew this lion fellow was pure evil! Under his rule the forest will surely go to the men”
Ibn hated the lion. He was never in favour of lion becoming the king. To start with he used to keep roaring and frightening everyone for nothing. He had this habit of eating up other animals…I mean, why couldn’t he have fruits and leaves…or insects? Then there was that ugly mane of his. And most importantly he was always running around doing something instead of sitting quietly and thinking…I mean what good was it to keep doing things? Look at him! The three weeks he came to power, he ran to the humans and did 3 day long meetings. So what if it stopped the further tree cutting and road construction? What was the big deal? An animal that uncivilized had no business being the king of the jungle!
“We need to do something about this”, the baboon said. “We cannot let this forest get destroyed by this violent uncivilized animal. Call all the other learned and skilled tomorrow. This lion has to be stopped! We cant let the forest go to the men”
The next morning the forest woke up to a very strange sight. In the spot where the unfortunate deer got run over had gathered a handful of animals. They were all carrying stale wreathes. And they were standing in a huddle with extremely grave faces.
The other animals went up to them. The mouse sniffed around and asked, “What is the matter O great Ibn Baboon? Why do you stand so sad and with these stale wreathes in hand? Did you get diarrhoea from chewing stale flowers?”
“Shut up you imbecile! We are protesting!” the Ibn said.
“Oh! But what are you protesting? And why? And what are these stale wreathes for?”
“The new king is ruining the forest! The forest is becoming increasingly unsafe for innocent animals after this bloodthirsty lion became the king! We are returning the wreathes which all of you gave us in honour of our talents in the annual forest festivals”
The mouse was bewildered. He did not know how to think much. He asked, “But what will I do with these stale wreaths? I mean, I can’t even eat them? Why me? Even the deers or the bisons cannot eat them. They can get diarrhoea from eat stale stuff!”
“Not another word!” screamed the baboon. “You philistine uncivilised animals! This is a protest going on here! And you are talking of eating?”
The mouse kept quiet…he anyways wasn’t much of a thinker. He figured it was something which small animals like him didn’t understand.
Baloo the bear was usually quiet and grumpy. To start with he was tired of every time being named Baloo. No one ever thought of a better name for him. To add to that the hacking of trees had led to a huge shortage of his favourite honey. Even the river was dry most of the time. Thanks to the new dam the men built. While he was always too tired for the last few years and never thought of protesting. This new thing they were calling protest bewildered him too. I mean they always said protest was about going to the home of the king and growling and screeching loud enough for the king to hear. And then when the king came out, you looked at the ground and kept grumbling about problems. It was something he never got the energy to do when the dams were being allowed and the trees were being cut. But this new protest…it was cool. And low on effort.
Baloo spoke up, “Err…did the king go overboard and eat up any extra deer or other animal? I mean, there was a huge party…you tend to go overboard…back in the day when Fox was crowned I almost drank 5 combs full of honey…and…”
“You cannot seem to think beyond your fat stomach!!!” roared…or rather squealed Ibn Baboon. “Do you even know that yesterday one of the deers was run over on the new highway?”
“Oh! That? Ya… that’s very sad. In fact for the last few years ever since Fox agreed to let men cut the forest almost every week there is an accident. Lion had gone to take it up with the men last week. In fact I hardly get any honey these days!”
“Shut up! You know nothing! This blood thirsty lion should never have been made the king! An animal who eats other animals can never care for them! Today we are returning our wreaths as a protest against this evil government!”
The bear retreated to his cave. He anyways was low on energy. And quarrelling with Ibn was unthinkable for him at this hour of the sun on top…
Soon the news of this protest spread across the forest like wildfire. Aided by hyperactive network of the crows.
Some who liked the king slammed the move. They pointed out that its not the first time that there has been an accident on the new highway. In fact since it was built it had become very dangerous for all forest animals. In fact even six months back the baby elephant was smashed by a car at night. His mother went mad since. Also they pointed out that the main reason behind the issue was when the previous king , Moumou the Fox struck that unholy deal with men. Something he did to secure his daily supply of chicken from that place with a strange name- Kentaucky…
The animals who did not like the lion were mostly animals who knew how to think. They did not like an animal not known for his thinking at the helm of affairs. Also his council was filled with such brainless doers. And it was a big problem! They expected work! Just imagine! You expected everyone to work! Instead of thinking of important things you were supposed to work! What was it that the lion roared? “Work for a greener forest”. Ha! Greener forest!
There was nothing wrong with work! But there were the bisons, the rhinos, the monkeys, spiders, bees …so many of the animals who were there to work! In fact the great white ape- Krull Moqrqs had said it clearly long long back. Every animal is equal. But some animals are more equal than others! Every animal will work. Except for the ones who had to think. The thinkers would direct and lead the workers. The king and the council will get benefits of this and if they think necessary, then they will redistribute it to the animals. Those were the heydays of the thinkers and the council members. Those days were fun. And this wretched new king talked about everyone deciding their own destiny! All the lowly animals in the forest had gone out of control. Even the lowly bees managed to meet the king! Imagine how filthy the king is! Meeting bees? Ha! And not only did he meet the bees, he asked most of the baboon tribe to vacate their trees for bees! With the forest being cut down the space had become an issue. Earlier one baboon family had been given 10 trees by the fox dynasty! Now they had to manage with only 7! How could 6 baboons live in only 7 trees? It was a deliberate ploy to attack the baboons who were the core thinkers of the forest. The king even refused the counter proposal of the baboons- that they give away 2 of their total number of trees where the 150 odd honeycombs could be stacked in every branch. The king had laughed it off!
The thinkers started the procession of returning the wreathes. You see in the rule of the Fox dynasty almost all wreathes in annual festival used to go to the thinkers. The doers in the forest were too lowly and pedestrian for that. It was because of the thinking of the thinkers that these lowly doers came to know that all animals were equal! Every year the lower animals- the doers- would stand in the distance and hear these highly placed thinkers talk eloquent about the heroism in the daily struggles of the doers. They were mighty impressed by the emotions. Most of the elders were convinced beyond doubt that thinkers were the greatest boons to the forest and the Fox dynasty was the natural destiny of the forest. The younger ones though, had started questioning. They were bewildered by the imagined prose of the thinkers who never mixed with the doers. They were not impressed by the Fox as the king who never met any of the doers. The lions had started the rumbling. Norimo had stood as the first step of defiance. Norimo was then the team leader of the meat gatherers- animals who had to hunt and gather meat for thinker carnivores like foxes and hyenas.
All the while all this mayhem was going on the Lion King (not SImba you silly!!), Norimo had been quiet. He did hear all about the protest and the claims endangerment of the forest. Initially he was too busy to react. He was visiting the men and doing hard negotiations to block further encroachment into the forest. It was tough. The men tried to bribe him a lot. A cow a day scheme. Control over a full herd. So on. But Norimo refused. He didn’t understand why he should take such a deal where he will not have to hunt for a few days or years. after all if he stopped hunting then he will grow weak. Also if the number of deers in the forest increased then the foliage and grass will come down and eventually destroy the forest. But the men were insistent. Finally they had agreed on a three month breather period to assess the situation. When he came back and was trying to plan how to use this period to reinforce the woods this issue of “protest” came out. Reluctantly he went down to meet these protesters as the latter were refusing to come to talk to him. It was in the middle of a very busy week as a lot of work was needed to restore the forest to its glory- it had fallen miserably during the Fox years.
“Tell me what your issues are”, Norimo started.
“His majesty does not even have the courtesy to make a proper opening address. Sad I had to live to see this day”, said Ibn the Baboon. Smeared with sarcasm.
Norimo didn’t bite that. “I happen to be a lowly gatherer. Sorry if I do not know the courtesies. Please, lets get to the point”.
Leela the leopard was not that restrained. Her tribe was almost on the verge of extinction thanks to extremely dangerous task of gathering soft meat for the Fox kings from the villages. She hated the guts of the thinkers. She gave a low growl, “let me know if you are too sad for your life. I can happily oblige by taking it out of you…”
This was the opportunity Ibn was waiting for. “By the name of holy Krull!!! This forest has become a death zone for leaf-eaters like me! There is no room for thinkers in this hell anymore! This forest is a butchering ground for hunters and doers! Led by the demon Norimo! How else on a meeting could his assistant give life threats to us? Just because we came to meet the King and ask for protection?”
Norimo gave a low growl in the direction of Leela who had by now understood the trap and was looking down at the ground in disappointment and shame of letting her king down. The lion started, “No one has any intention of hurting anyone here O great Ibn….” But it was too late. The thinker contingent had already risen. They had started leaving. They threw their stale wreathes at the King on their way out.
Once outside they started the slogan “Thinker lives matter! Leaf-eater’s lives matter! We are animals, not meat for the Lion!!!”
By the evening the network of crows had spread the news across the forest. The thinkers had gone to meet the king. In the meeting Leela the leopard attacked Ibn the great and almost killed him. By night when the forest was buzzing, every corner, every tree-top animals and birds were heatedly discussing the news of the day. Everyone agreed on one fact- that the leopard had no business attacking Ibn the great. Many interjected that it was no attack. They were there and had seen it. It was just an angry outburst at the insult which Ibn hurled at the king. However the crow network never conveyed this side of the story. Almost all of the forest knew it as an attack. By the dawn Norimo realised that even trying to dispute this lie was futile. By the dawn the old fox Moumou was falling into sleep with a satisfied smirk on his face. His and his forefather’s investment into the thinkers were bearing results. The forest could never be ruled by Doers…never…
The fox had missed one trick. The doers were workers. They worked together. They did not need the crow network to pass information. The wolf spoke to other wolves, the bees spoke to the other bees and butterflies, the eagle rose high up and spoke from there to all other birds. It was not as fast as the crow network. But it worked. By noon the whispers of the real incident had started doing rounds. And by the evening the next day when the thinker brigade took out the procession to demand the ouster of Leela from the forest the doer brigade was already well aware of the real incident. The thinker activists led by the heavily bandaged Ibn were not aware of this new development.
The protest group led by Ibn reached the main watering hole. They were in for a big surprise. The place was already crowded and filled with animals. The members of the doer community. The thinker group stopped on their tracks. There was an uneasy silence. After some time the mouse again spoke up, “O great Ibn the Baboon, when and how did Leela the leopard attack you?”
Ibn was taken aback.
“Have you lost all your wits? Everyone knows that leopard attacked me at the meeting! She should immediately be killed or driven out of the forest…!”
“Are you sure she attacked you in the meeting?”
The baboon was about to scream in irritation at the mouse. But he stopped. Something was wrong. Suddenly his confident swag was gone. Suddenly he felt uneasy. “what do you mean?”
“ I mean if Leela really attacked you in the meeting how did you manage to walk out on your two legs and scream slogans? Not a drop of blood? I was there! I saw you coming out!”
“You liar! Agent of Norimo!” a nervous scream from Baboon.
“SO was Bimby the bee” replied the mouse. Bimby flew forward and nodded. “So was Mooh the bison.” Mooh nodded lethargically …
The thinker group suddenly had had the wind knocked out. There was an aggressive buzz around the doers. They were slowly stepping back when a voice came from the side. “So what if these animals are claiming that Ibn was not hurt? They all could have been mistaken! Do you mean to say that the great Ibn, winner of so many wreathes is a liar? What is wrong with you people?”
It was Moumou the Fox.
Everyone was stunned into silence. After all it was the Fox, the head of the thinkers and the king for so long.
The Fox continued, “I am amazed to see the utter barbarism which has seeped into the forest in such a short time! I had to see a day when a mouse and a bee called the great Ibn a liar!”
Pin drop silence. No one could face the Fox and talk straight.
Unchallenged the Fox continued “Ibn my brother! Why do you need to risk your life and health for these thankless beasts?”
“I only wanted to help them,” replied the baboon with voice choked in fake emotion. “I never knew that they will twist the facts and insult me” The baboon broke into a sob.
The rest of the forest was silent. They all knew the truth. They all heard it from the animals. Leave out the mouse or the bee. Mooh the bison was one animal who would never lie. But still they were suddenly unsure. Decades of servitude does tricks with mind. Decades of slavery prevents free thinking. They didn’t know what to say.
The crow, Bka was lurking around in the trees. Seeing the situation he jumped in and spoke.
“The hunter king has vitiated the atmosphere. Across the forest I see animals fighting with each other. In fact yesterday most of the forest refused to go to sleep. Everyone was fighting with everyone else. There is no tolerance and acceptance in the forest anymore. No wonder they are challenging and insulting the great Ibn.”
End of Part 1