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Adi & Praja 100

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 100: the Sheep


(The Sheep)

His own environment was beautiful and happy and full of fun also, but not very exciting. Compared to the stories, he found his place even quite boring. Nothing much happened, and most people were rather stupid. So the boys sat together and decided to create some fun. Up in a meadow in a tiny house, a shed rather, lived a not very intelligent looking man who owned twelve sheep. He talked to his sheep, because there was rarely anyone else to talk to. His wife spend most of her time around the ‘house’ and made simple food and collected some wood for fire, and plants and roots to eat. The boys thought that they could make a practical joke with this man – he was too stupid and too old to catch them if he noticed at all what they were doing. But you never knew for sure, and that made it all the more exiting. So they decided to steal one sheep, and lock it up in an old abandoned shabby at some distance behind a small hill. The hut was big enough for the boys and the sheep together. Shano, being pretty intelligent, had plotted the plan in all details for them. They wondered if the man would even notice, because he could probably not count the difference between 12 and 11. So, at a quiet moment when the man was sleeping, they put a string around the neck of one of the sheep and led it away and to behind the hill and into the hut – far enough so that the man could not hear the sheep when it would be bleating. When the man woke up, he seemed to notice nothing. He just did what he always did, that is herding his sheep. That he did the whole day, and by the evening, when tired, he brought the sheep home, and went to his little house to sleep. The boys concluded that he had not noticed anything. But that, actually, they had not reckoned with. They had reckoned that when he would discover he would come after them, so they had first discussed an escape route, jumping down some steep places where that man or his wife could never follow them. And then they would laugh and from a distance make fun of the man. Poor good, stupid man, who had never done any harm to anyone, not even to a sheep. But when he did not come to look for his lost sheep, the question arose: what to do with the sheep? If they would bring it back, the man would know that they had done it, and though he himself was stupid, they were quite afraid of his wife. So that was no option. They could bring it back the next day, when he was sleeping again, but that also was not without danger. Still Shano thought that they should have the courage to do that. In the mean time it had grown dark, and the boys were bound to spend the night together with the sheep in the hut. They were getting cold and hungry. They knew that their parents would be anxious, and that next day they certainly would do everything to come to know what the boys had done that night. It was all extremely exciting. One of the boys was crying and wanted to go to his mother, but that wasn’t possible. Some of the boys who didn’t want to show their fear started to come with new, even more exciting ideas. The sheep was covered with a thick layer of wool. One of the boys was carrying a big knife. They could shear the sheep, than they would have wool to cover themselves, and would have extra fun if the man, who never noticed that any of his sheep was missing, that one was suddenly without wool. A few boys liked the idea. But Shano felt somewhat uneasy. The joke was never started to steal anything at all, only to make some fun with that stupid shepherd. But if they would return the sheep shorn, they would have harmed the man who could only subsist by selling wool, and that intention had never been in Shano’s mind. So laughingly the boys decided that they should shear only half of the sheep – that would be even less understandable for the shepherd. One rather big boy who had so far been sitting silently in the corner, said: “I am hungry,” give me that knife. They didn’t know what he meant. He said: “I will kill the sheep, the others collect some wood, and we will have a nice dinner of sheep meat.” It was silent. Then one of the boys shouted: “Yeah. Excellent, let’s do that. Afterwards we bury the bones and the shepherd or anyone else will never find out what happened.” Others agreed. But Shano’s face, if you could have seen it is the near dark, had turned white like bleached wool under his own black hairs. His heart beat 160 beats per minute. He did not want that. He had always tried to avoid even eating chicken, though he could not always avoid it, being the habit there, but had always refused to catch and kill one. Let alone a sheep. Rather he would have had his whole family giving up causing fear and pain to animals. And this situation was his fault, he realized. It was he who had designed the original plan. He did not know what do. He wished he had never been born. Or at least that he could disappear in some magical way. He shouted: “Nooooo.” “What no-o-o, shut up you, we are hungry.” If we kill it in one blow, it will not even bleat and nobody will find out. “That isn’t it, cried-shouted Shano.” “She is a living being.” “Shut up, you are also a living being and if you don’t shut up I will kill you together with that stupid beast, and nobody will ever miss you.” “I am serious,” Shano shouted. But another boy said that after all, he had made the plan, and that it was Shano’s fault that everyone was now cold and hungry. “So we are only reasonable,” the boy added. Shano had now turned red, though nobody could see that of course. The boy who wanted to kill the sheep jumped unexpectedly on the boy who had the knife, and grasped it away from him. “So there goes the sheep,” he shouted, and moved the knife in a position of attack. At that moment, Shano jumped forward in the dark, on top of the sheep and shouted. “It’s me, kill me, if you want to kill the sheep.” “I will,” shouted the boy, and jumped forwards. … Shano’s arm was bleeding fiercely. … Now even the attacking boy and the others realized the situation. This was no longer a joke. They now attacked the assailant and managed to get the knife out of his hand. The situation was terrible, all the blood, and the wounded Shano who could not go home at this dark hour, the wool of the sheep turned red. And of course the sheep was bleating like hell. It was hell, there in that small hut behind the hill, with nobody to come to help. Shano’s wound bled fiercely, but otherwise luckily it was not very deep, and though the pain was terrible, he survived till the next morning and could walk home. You can imagine the mixture of feelings when his parents and sisters saw him. The whole night they had not slept, and prayed – though they knew in their heart that God never interfered with someone’s personal destiny, but they prayed nevertheless to sooth their own soul – fearing that he might have fallen down the ravine or kidnapped by a dacoit. They were happy when they saw him back, but shocked by the long wound apparently caused by a knife. He told the whole story to his mother, how he had made the plan, and that it was all his own fault, and that someone (he didn’t mention the boy’s name) had wanted to kill the sheep. He did not tell that he himself had in fact saved the sheep by risking his own life. His father thought he should be punished, though his mother found that he needed care rather than punishment, and that the wound was punishment enough, and his sisters found him a hero. Finally he got – after his wound was cared for by his mother’s sister who was a great expert in healing herbs – two weeks house arrest, and was forced to cut wood and do the woman’s work inside the house. But he had greatly won in respect in the circle of his conspirator-friends, and they regarded him as a hero who had defended an animal almost at the cost of his own life. His parents came to know these details only indirectly through the normal chain of gossip that was always running through the valleys and over the hills, and silently they were proud of their son.

Of course, the day after that horror night, the sheep had to be given back to its owner. He wouldn’t be happy with the blood in the sheep’s wool. Shano, himself, after his wound was treated, …



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