Vantage point

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

I am feeling a little Aesopish today and hence this story. There was once a pesky rat who lived in the Big Jungle. Around him lived a lot of rats like him. They generally used to rat around and indulge in the usual ratty activities.

There also lived a huge tusker, who was very cocky about him strength and generally used to boss other animals around. The only animal who could resist him was a tiger and there was a perpetual indirect battle between the elephant and the tiger, but they never fought directly since both were afraid of the injuries the other might inflict.

So one fine day, the moody tusker decides that he wants to take over the rat holes near his lair and starts killing the rats one by one. Other rats resent this but can do nothing. Then the tiger approaches them. He gives them a few idea on how to trouble the tusker even if they can�t kill him. Bite his tail, peck at his trunk during the night and then run away. They could even give him a few bites and escape before he stomps them dead. This continued and the elephant was bugged by this, but only slightly. He kept destroying rat holes around his place and killing rats. Those small bites could not make much of a dent on his skin. The tiger could not quite get the results he expected from the action of the rats.

The tusker however had not taken care of his body over the years during his tiff with the tiger and he had several diseases. Various organs that made up his huge body started failing, revolting. The elephant got very sick. Meanwhile the pesky rat whom I mentioned at the beginning of the story was to lead a charge on the elephant one day. That particular day, the elephant was in a very very bad shape. Call it coincidence, call it timing or call it happenstance, just as the pesky rat bit into the tusker�s leg, the tusker got a stroke and collapsed, all its body parts breaking up into different pieces. It was a sordid scene, but one which the pesky rat and his buddies enjoyed.

They went and told the tiger about how they destroyed the elephant. The tiger realized it wasn�t the rats but disease that killed the tusker. He just brushed the rats away and went on a walk in the Big Jungle to enjoy his unrivalled supremacy. Some rats got pissed off at the tiger and decided to give him the same treatment as they gave the tusker. The pesky rat however, being the one that administered what he thought was the fatal bite, thought of settling old scores.

Now near the pesky rat�s hole, lived a fat, slow but mild natured dog. The dog had its house bordering the rat�s. The rat wanted a small portion of the dog�s house. In this portion lived several ants who were not getting enough food since the slow dog couldn�t afford to drop many crumbs. On the other hand, the rat used to get a lot of food from the tiger in lieu of his acts against the tusker. So the ants would much rather live in rat territory than dog territory. The rat said that since the ants wanted to, the dog should give that portion of his house to the rat. The dog didn�t pay much attention.

Then one day after the tusker had been disintegrated, the pesky rat saw a few ants sneaking upon the dog and giving it a few bites in its neck. The dog woke up but did not see any ants anywhere. This gave the rat an idea. He decided to try the same tactics on the fat dog as the ones he tried on the elephant. He did not realize however that the elephant�s death had nothing to do with his acts. On top of that, the rat was alone since his buddies had gone after the tiger. He just had the ants to help him. He kept trying to torment the dog into submission or into disintegration like the tusker, but to no avail. At times the pesky rat would get upset at the failure to vanquish the fat dog and kill a few ants.

The dog, though it did not do him too much harm, was sick of the rat�s antics. Since he could not catch the rat, he would kill a few ants too. Now the ants were left regretting their decision to start this fight with the dog and wanted to quit. But the rat wouldn�t let them. After many years of this, the dog finally got sick and started pushing his nose down the rat�s hole to take care of it once and for all. The rat, terrified, ran to its old friend, the tiger who was battling other rats. The tiger was overcome with emotion to see that ONE rat was still its friend and showered gifts on the rat. He tried to explain to the rat that the tusker had died on its own and not because of the rat�s bites. He also said that while he might be able to talk to the dog and hold him off for a bit, he could not fight the dog on the rat�s behalf.

So the dog had his nose in the rat�s hole while the tiger spoke to it mildly about how the rat would behave from now on. The son of the elephant, a much smaller and weaker elephant counseled the dog not to fight. The rat could not quite decide what to do. The ants kept dying.

So how does the story end? Well, it still has not ended and I would like to see how it does. In case you haven�t figured it out yet, here is the list of characters-

TUSKER- Soviet Union
Pesky Rat- Pakistan
Other rats- Taliban, Syria, Iran, etc.
Fat Dog- India
Ants- Kashmiris