Actually, the story of the two groups had a common beginning.
In the beginning there were just two dogs and their mates. The two dogs had been brought up together and were friendly. How the four of them came there, nobody knows. But once they came, they never left.
Because of a misunderstanding between the two males and because of a natural instinct of possessing one’s own territory, they separated. Their territories were clearly demarcated and were fiercely protected by each pair. They co-existed as rival neighbors and never went anywhere else.
Their families grew as the females gave birth to healthy litters. The pups were schooled well by their parents and they imbibed noble virtues of love for territory, parents and kith and kin. The enmity between the two groups was now a family matter. Each group ferociously guarded its territory and didn’t allow any dog from another group to enter. A dog from the neighboring group wouldn’t dare to enter the territory of the other. And if one ventured by mistake, the unity and ferocity of the pack would soon pounce upon it. The lone adventurer would then not flee, for it was from a brave and proud clan. It would fight with enormous courage as its brothers would soon join it and carnage would ensue. Bodies would be terribly wounded and the souls would be glowing with pride. The females would have another story to narrate to their young and the unity of the group and their pride in their values would strengthen.
One day, a reprobate was born to one of the groups. The entire group cursed their stars for the puny male pup was the weakest creature they had even seen. How could a clan that boasted of its valor ever produce an animal like that! The pup grew and was different from others. It was devoid of anger – it was gentle and caring. It was despised by the entire group. The males of the group had to be dogs of valor, power and ferocity – such a weakling was a blemish to the group. He was ostracized from the activities of the group. He stayed in the territory of the group and managed to fend for himself but was a failure in school. The noble virtues of patriotism and savage strength always eluded him – he was a depraved creature.
One day, the reprobate dog ventured into the neighboring territory and was immediately surrounded by the rival dogs. Their violent barks were deafening. Their threatening canines were waiting to rip the flesh out of him. Their tongues were hanging out ominously and their blood shot eyes were piercing his soul. The difference between his life and death was just a moment. While the rival dogs were surrounding him, dogs from his own group saw him and were rushing forward eager for battle. Then the unthinkable happened. All the dogs from both the groups were stunned and stood motionless. The reprobate bent down and surrendered.
The rival dogs didn’t know how to react – they had neither heard nor even thought of such a happening. The dogs of his own group were looking, awe-struck, waiting for the reaction of the enemy. The rivals cleared the way for the reprobate and the dog got up, head and tail still drooping and made his way to his brothers who were looking at him with a look of abject disgust. The battle had ended without beginning and the soldiers returned home.
The reprobate sat with his head bent with shame while all the other members of the group surrounded him. The eldest (who were the wisest and most brutal) were together, the commoners and females were together and the only thought that was in everyone’s minds was – the group had been insulted. The thought was like a solid wave flowing (through everyone’s minds) and static – it united them and at once gave rise to a communal feeling. It was a united feeling of hatred towards the depraved dog.
Almost simultaneously it was decided and then the elders proclaimed – the reprobate is no longer a part of the group. He is exiled. Being their brother, he will not be attacked by any member of this group. However, no responsible member of the group will allow him to eat anything within this territory.
The reprobate heard the pronouncement calmly and then, slowly walked away. He loved his country and didn’t want to go anywhere else. He was just averse to the violence which was a part of the lives of the two groups. He sat dreamily basking in the sun. He was sad and forlorn.
Then hunger shook him up and he wandered about to swallow something. He found a piece of meat and was about to pick it up when he remembered the morning’s pronouncement. There were two dogs staring at him angrily on the other side of the meat. He turned away and went in another direction. Wherever he went, he always saw the same sight – food and beside the food, his brothers guarding the food from him. Hungry and tired he sat under the shade of the tree. He slept without food. After some time, the hunger was intolerable. He got up and wandered again – in vain.
Then he saw some food that was not guarded – it was in the neighboring territory. His mind was delirious and it saw nothing but the food that was a few yards away. He ran towards it and just when his teeth were about to touch the meat, it vanished. In its place he saw three dogs – enormous and frightening. One of them had the meat in its mouth. They knew him – for the news of his surrender had spread far and wide. They didn’t attack him. He turned under the threat of their cruel glower.
He went back to his land. He waited and slowly life oozed out of him. Insects and infection were devouring him. Agonizingly he starved to death.
Labels: short story