SPIDER , ELEPHANT, SNAKE (Short Story)
Long , long ago in a deep, dark and tangled forest, there lived a teensie green spider. It glittered like an emerald and was the king of all its kind. He was the head of the jungle routes. He designed all the pathways and sideways and roped them off for safety with his platoon of spids. They made trains ensconced in shiny webs -- upwards, downwards and crossways -- all across the jungle. The careful construction of Mr. Spider marked out the designated official routes through the wide woods. If the animals were not careful they could wander off the path in the dark, unknown of the vast jungle and become the easy, terrified prey of the beasts and demons that dwelt there, in the quiet, with bright , yellow torch eyes that glowed like fog lights on deserted highways. All the little animals that lived the the wooded clearing at the middle were grateful to Mr. Spider and constantly plied him with their exigous gifts to try to pay back for the sense of security he created for them unselfishly, without ever expecting anything in return. He was a good one ,was Mr.Spider, glittery green on his leaves of Willow.
The jungle was very broad and deep, spread out in all directions,for thousands of acres . This protected all its creatures - great and small- from the prying, cruel eyes of devious humans who would have laid the whole jungle kingdom bare in their greed.But this intricate , magnificent jungle had one flaw. The whole place had only one water source. A big, fresh water lake in the southern corner of the forest. It was always full to the brim with sweet, icy water that tasted almost magical.A number of creatues had built their homes near this watering hole but most lived in continued terror. The bigger animals that lived there would always use their homes for play; chucking stones and soil at them, filling them with dead leaves and sometimes even picking up their little babes to swing up into the high skies and make a game of it. But the poor creatures didn't have much choice, for where else could they go. They couldn't live without water. The one's whose homes were far away were not harassed by these big ,inconsiderate lake animals , but they faced the bigger problem of dehydration and cruel thirst.
This situation continued with no relief till a herd of elehants moved into the jungle. Ramky, their king evaluated the whole circumstance with his beady eyes in a few seconds. He saw that the animals had to travel long distances to get mere mouthfuls of water, and that the pack of sharp-clawed lake animals hunted out the small ones making them helpless and turning the whole situation pitifully desperate.This has to change he thought. I'm a King. We are the biggest, most noble animals in this forest and it is my duty to protect and provide for these poor mites. "I don't own the forest. but hereby, I declare that I own 'thirst' , and I take upon the duty to keep it satisfied. " . This Ramky, the king of elephants,now also crowned himself the king of 'quenching thirst'. He thought hard and called a conference of his troops one night and issued secret instructions. Now , in whichever direction one went in the jungle, they always found a party of four elephants hard at work. They were drilling hard and making deep , wide pools , circled with white slabs of stones. Once this was done to Ramky's satisfaction, the elephants formed a chain, linking their trunks together to reach the deep, slabbed holes. They sucked out trunkfuls of shimmering,cold water from the lake and passed it on through the trunks of their linked neighbours and all the way to the holes which they filled to the neck with clean, drinking water. With these watering holes placed all over the forest,the animals flourished and their joy knew no bounds. They went in a party to Ramky with a big circlet of gulmohar leaves strung together, over many months and gently placed it on his head and bowed. They were in awe of all that Ramky had done for their benefit, despite being a big animal who could just stomp over them and get his way. He had sensed their pain and blessed them with the miracle of water. The most woderful miracle of all.
In this forest there also lived a saintly snake. She lived in a hole at the bottom of an old willow tree. Now, most snakes are not to be meddled with. They carry poison in their fangs and throats. This vicious lot sidle on the floor looking for exposed limbs , a dunking strike with their bent heads and the unaware prey falls to ground; stone dead. Deadly creatures, these snakes.But the snake of our story was old,wise and kind.It took no pleasure in hurting its fellow forest dwellers. She was a kind samartian and had converted many of its species into following her kind philosophy of live and let live.This venerate Mrs. Snake was treated with great respect and honour .
One day Mr.Spider was taking a walk to stretch his many legs, when he came across a a gap in the shimmery thread that outlined the path in the west quarter of the jungle. Curious, he held the web between his legs and rubbed them together. Some of his workers were slacking off and he would have to see to it. Quickly repairing the tear, he turned to leave and to his dismay saw that he had woven himself outside the path. Standing on the outer side of the shimmering route rope, he looked about and wondered. " It has been a long time since I went down these unserviced trails. Being the "Way King' is making me miss the many adventures I had planned for myself as a child. Thus, thinking and wondering, the little green glittering Mr.Spider walked uphill , away from the lighted path.He scuttled and scuttled and scuttled till it was completely dark, and soft night winds bengan to blow through the wildreness. Mr.Spider yawned, rubbed his eyes and looked about for a place to rest. But of course black night had crept in and he couldn't see anything. Slowly, he made his way behind a glowing worm. It settled at the mouth of a big, yawning cave, and with a shout of joy Mr. Spider jumped onto the jutting stone and scuttled happily into the cave. He would rest here for the night. It was a dry, warm cave with a curved mouth, the chilly night wind couldn't get in. Mr.Spider quickly climbed up to the roof and spun a thick, soft, bouncy bed for himself, tossed into it, closed his eyes and was lost in dreams.
Ramky was,by nature, a very quiet, gentle creature. His head wasn't in the ruling of his herd, and they were very well-behaved wise brthren who barely needed any looking after. And now that he had delivered his duties as the "King of Quenching Thirst" , he felt restless and bound by the trees of the bright clearing he lived in with his troops. After a lot of rumination and anguished nights, Ramky decided that he would leave his herd, at least for a short time and seek the company of solitude and introspection. Having informed his fellows of his plans, Ramky set out and walked startight off the official jungle routes and into the uknown wilderness.
When Mr.Spider opened his eyes the next morning, he found that his cozy cave of last night was filled with brilliant sun light. Light so strong and harsh that it hurt his eyes and made him squint. The heat of the day was vibrating off the walls of the cave and making it hot as a oven inside. Mr.Spider speedily jumped out of his bed and landed on the floor. He scuttled into the depths of the cave trying of find a shaded spot. Suddenly he spotted a weird structure , protruding from the centre of the cave floor. A little wary, Mr.Spider walked up to this thing, and peered out of his eight eyes. Oh no no no. It couldn't be. A man?! How could a man be in these parts of the world. In this jungle. So deep in the jungle, off the mapped paths. And lo, what more, he seemed to be asleep! Mr. Spider had always been warned to stay away from 'man' , a vicious species of blood thirsty creatures who squished,slapped, mangled, gutted,stabbed,cup open and performed many unspeakable things upon the animals in the jungle. Man was the biggest and the strongest hunting animal in the world. Nobody could hunt him. Many frightening thoughts flashed through Mr. Spider's mind as he stood there staring at this 'man'. As he kept gazing in amazement, time passed and dawn turned into noon and noon into evening. When it had gotten darker Mr.Spider realised that this man was harmless, he just sat there; didn't move, didn't eat- didn't do anything. He began to feel sorry for this man. Maybe he had wandered in one day and gotten lost in this jungle. And now here was, turning into a statue in this hot cave, poor man.Mr. Spider felt very , very sorry for the man indeed. He made up his mind to help this man. He went near him and saw that his skin had tanned to a dark, charred brown and was burning with heat. Quick as a bee, the spider ran all over the man, only the flash of his glittering body visible . He kept running for the whole afternoon tirelessly. When he was finished, he climbed down and looked up at the man to admire his handiwork. The man was fully covered with Mr.Spider's very best quality , shimmery web. You could barely see the man wound up in it. The shimmer was reflecting all the shiny heat of the sun back at it, keeping the lower levels cool. The cloudy softness of the web settled over the dry, scaled skin of the man, soothing the burning. Very pleased with himself , Mr.Spider grinned and waited for the man to open his eyes and enjoy the cool wrap he had made for him.Slowly, night started creeping in, and Mr. Spider had to go home before his wife and children started worrying about him. Perhaps this young man was blind and mute. This thought made him feel more pitiful and he left vowing to come back soon and look after the man.
Ramky had trundled off with no destination in mind. He kept walking through the day and he kept walking through the night, and through another day and another night, lost in his thoughts. Finally, he sat down near a stream and cooled his feet. This is a fresh spring he thought. Maybe there are more like this around the forest, that would make the work of us elephants easier, and animals could have access to fresh water. He shook his head. He couldn't still be obessing over these water problems, he needed some 'me time'. Stretching himself, he immersed himself upto the waist in the spring. The gushing water lifted his spirits and the the softly wafting fragrance from the tufts of the colourful flowers that grew along the banks of the stream made him close his eyes and drift into all the beauty around him.Suddenly, he heard a distant rumbling sound. At first it didn't bother him, but a few minutes later it got louder and and soon seemed to be blaring from the sky right above him. He opened his eyes to see that dark, heavy clouds had quickly gathered in the sky and the rumblimg sound had been the thunder which rolled ominously after every flash of lightening. Climbing out of the stream, Ramky looked about for a shelter. Frankly, he was rather scared of the sounds and lights that threatened to fall on him from the sky whenever a storm visited the forest.Huffing and puffing, he ran to the left side of the stream and saw a small hillock with a cave in the middle that seemed quite safe and out of the way of the gusty wind. He hurriedly climbed up to it and found that he was right. The cave was faced in such a way that the chilly wind and sprays of rain could not enter it. Ramky walked in, and felt protected and calmed down. He tried to find a good, soft spot to lie down in, but night had advanced early under the wings of the clouds and he couldn't see anything. So, he lay down in a corner ,faced away from the entrance , feeling dry and cozy he soon fell asleep.The next morning the skies had cleared up and Ramky woke up to strong, fresh sunlight bounding into his cave. Ramky stood up and shook himself . It was hot in here. What was this? There was something there facing him in the middle of the cave. He approached it cautiously and was taken aback to see a man. Unlike Mr.Spider , Ramky had met many humans during his lifetime. He appraised this one, and saw that he a pious, holy man who was lost in meditation, and seemed to have been sitting here in the cave for a number of years. There thick cobwebs around him, and he was very filthy and dust-ridden. Ramky went out, filled his trunk with fresh , cold water from the stream and poured it over the still man. He made several trips till the man was completely clean, and all the dust and dirt and cobwebs had been washed off his body. Then, Ramkay filled the caves with sweet smelling flowers and laid soft leaves under the man's feet to make him comfortable. Pleased with his work, he walked back to his camp to tell his troops about the holy man so they could make appropriate arrangements for him.
The next day this cave was visited by kind Mrs.Snake. She often left the pathways to wander on untrodden trails in the forest, observing the undisturbed nature. It was her plan to cover the entire forest like this before she died. When she came upon the cake she noticed a man who was bound in still meditation, much like herself on certain days of the year. She instantly recognised him as the king of the lands near the jungle who had given up his throne and walked away in pursuit of God. She assumed he had come to this cave many years earlier and had chosen it as the abode for his meditations and prayers. She bowed to him .When she lifted her head she was distressed to see that the cave was dirty, filled with dried leaves and flowers and remanants of cobwebs. She meticulously cleaned the cave and made it spotless. Then tired from all the work, she crawled into a hole nearby and slept.
Mr.Spider merrily hopped on his way to the cave. He wanted to see the man again and repair any little loosenings in his web to make the man as comfortable as he could. He also decided he would weave a shimmery web across the entrance of the cave, preventing the heat and light from the sun coming in at all. Making plans with a lot of excitement, he arrived at the cave and was dumbfounded. It was as bare and horrendously hot as the first day. Not a single thread of his web remained anywhere. Mr.Spider was very puzzled. No wind could enter the cave and no animals came this way then how could the cave have been stripped clean of all his hard work.Confused and distressed, he set upon on his work again and built great hanging curtains of web around the man and the cave floor and the entrance hole. Tired, he climbed out and went to sleep on the green leaf of a nearby apple tree, they were his favourite.
As evening fell, the storm threatned to return. When he heard the boom of the thunder again, Ramky felt it would be better to spend the night in the cave with the man till the storm had passed over completely. He hurried back to the cave . Ramky stood at the door of the cave, stunned. All his work! It was gone. The cave was more dirty, filled with disgusting cobwebs, than it was ever before. When Ramky thought about the poor man inside this awful mess, he was filled with rage. He raced to the stream, and with trunkfuls of water washed the the cave and the man, till they shone white and glittery with water in the moonlight.The sound of rushing water and the heavy foot falls of Ramky woke up Mr.Spider , who almost fell off his leaf in panic. He hung ,for dear life, with three green legs dug into the leaf, then he slowly hoisted himself up . Sitting on the leaf he saw what the elephant was doing. He was enraged. So this was the culprit! The nightly bandit who destroyed his hard day's work around the poor man, and exposed him to the viles of heat and blinding light.Mr. Spider rushed at Ramky and screamed at him, calling him a vicious brute. Ramky seeing the spider , thought of all the vile strings of cobwebs around his beloved saint and lashed out at him with his trunk. A painful battle ensued as Ramky's blow broke two of Mr.Spider's legs. Despite the crushing agony, Mr.Spider thought quickly, slipped into Ramkay's big ears and bit him hard. Ramky cried out hard, and dragged the spider out with it's trunk, breaking another leg and blinding it in one eye. All these cries and curses aroused Mrs.Snake who was asleep in a hole ,under a nearby bush. She slithered to the battle ground of the two enraged creatures, and sang a slow, hypnotising song. It started low as a low tune and built up into an undulating, intoxicating crescendo. The music stopped the two animals short as they fell under it's hypnotic lure. They stood still without moving and without thinking. Gently, Mrs.Snake brought the song to an end, adressed Ramky and Mr.Spider.She got both sides of the story from them and soothingly explained the misunderstanding that had occured. She also told them the real story behind the man in the cave, and asked them to come with her to bow to the meditating saint, and seek his blessings.Ashamed of themselves, the spider and the elephant apologised to each other , and then the three of them went inside the cave.As soon as they stepped in they were covered in the radiating glow of the saint who was standing on his feet and smiling at them. His open eyes were dazzling. The three forest creatures were enchanted and fell at his feet immediately."Rise oh little ones. Do not bow to me. It is I who am grateful to you. With your kind,syampathetic nature ,hard work and golden hearts, you served me and made me comfortable when I was all alone and vulnerable.The three of you will have a very special place in history, and your story will begin here. Men, animals and spirits will come from afar to seek the blessings of your divine trinity. Rise and be one with me O kind and noble creatures of the jungle."