All in a days work
Once upon a time, not so far away a poor Shepherd named Nandu went out with his herd of Sheep. He was 15 years old, a Bheel boy, small built with dark brown skin and looked like any other person from his tribe. He didn’t have too many Sheep left and he feared loosing any because he remembered how angry his step-mother had got the last time. The memory of that day sent a chill down his spine and he instinctively looked at the burn mark in his left forearm, it still hurt. Like any other shepherd, Nandu had a companion for his daily trips to the green land. A Hunting Dog who he fondly called Gilee. Often time he would get into deep conversation with Gilee, talking about his life, his dreams of one day being a rich Man and being able to pay the bride price for the girl of his dreams, Chameli.
“Gilee, remember that big bungalow by the river bank. One day I will buy it from the chowdhry”
“Today, Chameli looked at me and smiled, Gilee what do you think? Does she like me as much as I like her?”
“Gilee, the new Ma does not hate me. She does it so that I dont grow up to be a drunk like my father… na?”
And Gilee always re-assured him with a “Roof Woof”
But today was different. Today Nandu was careful and was keeping a Vigil on his cattle. He heard from a fellow villager that a Leopard was spotted in the area. He definitely didn’t want to lose any more of his sheep, out of love for his Sheep and also his own hands. Gilee was being of help and was also keeping a Vigil. Finally it was dusk, time to head back home. Nandu was awfully hungry and also scared of the dark, so he began rushing the herd back home. Somewhere in the trip Gilee wandered away and Nandu didn’t notice. The poor dog was lost in the forest.
After wandering around for a while and hungry and tired Gilee noticed a nice comforting ‘Kutiya’. He slowly made his way towards it hoping for some safety, food and comfort.
This Kutiya with its open doorways and windows always seemed welcoming to guests. In here lived a young man named Lalu and his boss Indubhushan. Gilee could smell the kindness of this old man, so he promptly went closer wagging his tail, hoping to get some affection.
“Lalu, seems like we have a guest today”
“Sirji, I heard in the village today that there is a Leopard on the prowl. The Dog will invite trouble for us”
“Lalu, Don’t be silly. We can’t let this poor dog wander alone out in the woods”
“Sirji, Leopards like eating dogs. If we let him sleep here the Leopard is sure to smell his way here.”
“Lalu, we have the fire on. The Leopard will not dare to come around it”
“Lalu, now stop arguing! I have had a very long day and want to go to sleep now. So let’s move on”
Lalu decided that there was no point arguing with his boss, though he continued grumbling for a long time under his breadth. He got some food out for Gilee. Gilee gave a gleeful bark; this was the best meal he had ever had. It was a welcome change from the leftover food that he got to eat everyday.
Lalu and his boss placed their Cots down, made their bed, put some more wood in the fire and went to sleep. Gilee decided to sleep under the Cot of the kind old man. He was missing his friend, Nandu.
Raja, the Leopard was new to this forest. His home was taken over by those dangerous two legged animals called Humans and now homeless and hungry he wandered around hoping to find some food soon. He had been wandering the whole day and was now extremely tired and needed to rest. He heard his stomach give a big growl of hunger.
Just then he smelled food. He sniffed up in the air and he was sure that the smell was of a Dog. His Dinner, he decided. He followed the smell and saw the Kutiya. He cursed his luck to be lead to humans again. How he hated and feared them for taking away his home from him. He slowly tip toed towards the Kutiya and stopped suddenly when he noticed the fire. On any other day, he would’ve turned around and left. Not today, today he was too hungry to wander around searching for food. He decided to stay there and wait, wait for the right opportunity. And like a true hunter he took position and sat right there eyes fixed on his meal.
Time passed by and the fire started to subside. Lalu and Indubhushan both were fast asleep, so was Gilee unaware of his fate ahead.
Suddenly there was a loud ‘Roar’ followed by the meek Barking of a Dog. Both Indu and Lalu woke up with a jolt.
Indubhushan knew what just happened and before Lalu could react, Indu held his hand tight.
“Lalu, don’t move. If you move now, you will be the Leopards meal”
Lalu was shivering and was scared to death. He thought he was having a Heart Attack. Indubhushan was scared too; Who wouldn’t with a Leopard under their bed. But he kept calm and still.
A happy Raja, finally got his dinner, dragged Gilee out of the bed and out of their sight.
Indubhushan relaxed a little and took a deep breath and noticed that the bed seemed wet. He looked at Lalu and started Laughing out Loud.
Lalu was still a little scared and a little embarrassed. And started to explain him self.
“Its okay if you got scared Lalu. Let’s quickly change the bedding and get back to sleep”
Lalu was all flushed and got busy. After a long Silence… he spoke out…
“Sirji… I couldn’t…”
“No worries Lalu, It’s all in a days work. Tomorrow is another long day”
As for Nandu, he looked around for Gilee, but when Gilee didn’t come back for a couple days he assumed what must’ve happened.
Soon he found a new friend, a new dog and named him Gilee.
Raja still lives in the forest, but is now more familiar with the terain. Sometimes he ventures into the village and steals cattle from the humans, Karma he says.