Sunday 10 June 2012

Short Story 2012 Longlist, Hemant Soni

A Lion in The Cage

Wondering of his existence, he was making desperate rounds. He yawned staring down at his meat, as he sat down, closed his eyes and went in thought.
Once he was the king of all beasts. He was feared for his strength, and the jungle was under his claws. He followed a simple philosophy in life - to kill or to leave but never to keep anybody in custody. Everything was going good until calamity struck.
On that fateful evening, he went for a walk after finishing the meals. He felt sorry to kill someone, but had no choice than to kill for living.

Suddenly he sniffed something unusual, he could sense danger. As he turned around, they came charging at him. But he was never a runner and jumped over them with a loud roar. One of them was on the ground at his mercy and the other ran away. He was furious on his attacker, but calming thought cleared his mind. He left the man as he would never kill anybody without hunger. Just then, he found something pierced his back and it all turned dark.

He woke up to find a bunch of humans gazing at him. He had been captured. He roared in rage until his throat went dry. But his voice fell on deaf ears. Time went by, his rage subsided and he took life as it came. He came to understand that may be his keeper’s profession was to put somebody in a cage. Gradually, he got acquainted with the man. His job was greeting the visitors and he used to feel happy when people felt astonished to see him.

The lion came out of slumbering thoughts, looked around and went to sleep. Months passed. One day the man brought him a lioness. His happiness knew no bounds, when he found that she was his long lost love from bygone times in the jungle. They fell in love again and his new life began. After a year they had kids. Days of joy were returning. He had almost forgotten about his captivity and his salutation turned into love for people. He used to feel proud to see people admiring his family.
One evening the lion found the cage rusted at one end, such that he could easily break out. He was excited and raised his paw, but stopped suddenly as he became conscious of the consequences of his escape. His family would be in grave danger. He backed away from the opening and decided to keep it a secret. He never told about that to his family and continued the normal life.

That was a normal afternoon, with very few people in the viewing gallery. The cubs were sleeping cuddled around their mother. A little girl came near the cage and watched the lion’s family with innocent expressions. The lion stood up, blinked his eyes acknowledging her appreciation and again sat down. The girl then went towards the bushes and started playing with the butterflies. The lion was still watching her.

Suddenly, the lion saw a snake coming from the bushes towards the girl. He sprang up and came close to the bars trying to alarm the kid. But she was unaware of the danger just a few steps away, and did not pay attention. The lion became impatient. There was no time left for any other help to come.
Therefore the lion immediately sneaked out of the rusted opening, without thinking twice. He jumped over the snake and the snake ran away. For a few moments he gazed at the girl. She was looking at him with no fear.

The lion wanted to go back in his cage before anybody has seen him. He tried to return, but was shot dead before he could even move a step. Before closing his eyes the lion looked at his kids and the lioness as if bidding them goodbye.

The cage was built again and stronger than before. The lioness caught up a disease and died a few months later.
Time flew by. The kids are now grown up and the show is still going on in salutation to the mankind.

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