Talking to a wild deer
|My father was a schoolteacher in an isolated village. Classes only took place in the mornings, as all the students worked later in the day. As my father's salary was meager, the village allotted him a piece of land on the edge of the forest, which he converted into a small farm. After school, he used to work on this farm to augment his income to support and feed his family.
Every winter holiday, I used to go with my father to help him on this farm. As the village is very remote, we lived a life of freedom and adventure. We lived a life completely in tune with nature. There were many wonderful stories about our stay in this village, and this is one of them.
One morning, my father woke me up early. After our usual prayer and a light breakfast, he left for work on his farm. Before leaving, he gave me the keys to the wooden box where we kept our important belongings, including the double-barreled gun. He told me that if I needed to leave the house, I should take the gun along with me.
After he left, I was curious to inspect the gun. It was strange for my father to allow me to touch the gun, let alone carry it by myself. I opened the wooden box to make sure that the gun was there. Yes, it was. I knew my father trusted me, but for him to trust me with the gun was too much for me to understand.
After examining the gun, I put it back in the box. Then I started cooking, cleaning, and sweeping the house and its adjoining areas. Our small thatched house lies on top of a hill and I could see for miles around. I could hear the birds chirping in the trees surrounding our house.
When I had finished the cooking and all the household chores, I was in a hurry to leave the house with the gun. I wanted to go to the farm where my father was working. I wanted the world to know that I am now a big enough boy to carry a real gun. Carefully, I took the gun from the wooden box.
I put the gun over my shoulder, closed the door, and left the house. To reach the farm where my father was working, I needed to walk down the hill, cross a small river and walk along a patch of jungle.
As I walked down the hill, I felt so proud to be carrying a gun on my shoulder. I felt like a cowboy in a Western film. I hoped the villagers could see me. It would amaze people to see a young boy carrying a gun. It would be the talk of the entire village. Birds were chirping and the cooling morning breeze was blowing, but I focused my mind on how people should see me carrying a gun.
I crossed the small river, and then the jungle started. Father had taught us to be especially alert in the jungle because anything might happen. You never knew what you would encounter. There were many wild animals and even snakes. I thought about what would happen if I came across a wild animal. Could I shoot it with the gun I was carrying?
I was thinking about what I would do if I met a wild animal. Could I shoot? What would happen if I missed it? Suddenly, I came to a small clearing. There, about ten meters ahead of me, a deer was grazing.
This was the first time I had seen a deer in the wild. It was beyond words to describe and explain my excitement and feelings. Yes, what I wanted came true. I carried a gun and there in front of me was a deer. I could shoot the deer. It was grazing so near to me I would not miss it. I took the gun from my shoulder, kneeled like a professional, and pointed the gun at the deer.
What did the deer do? It stopped grazing. Instead of running away, it looked directly at me. When the deer fixed me with its deep, piercing eyes, I froze. Its eyes were so beautiful and penetrating that they mesmerized me. For a few moments, the deer gazed intently at me. Then it moved its lips as if it wanted to talk to me. Yes, it talked to me.
What did the deer say to me? You would not believe it, but the deer really talked to me. Of course, it used a kind of sacred communication that both of us could understand.
"Dear boy, I know you have a gun. I know a gun is dangerous. However, you are just a small teenage boy carrying a gun. Go ahead-shoot me if you dare."
I looked at the gun. Yes, I had a gun, a double-barreled one. Yes, in front of me was a wild deer. It was the greatest opportunity I would receive in my lifetime. I could tell my father and all the villagers that I had shot and killed the deer with my father's gun. I was too excited to know what to do when the deer started talking again.
"Look, dear boy, I know what you feel. You may think that I am just a wild animal. I know when there is danger. All animals know when there is danger in their life. I saw you walking with the gun, but I know you cannot harm me. You don't have the power to kill me."
"How do you know?"
"In human language, you have a word, 'instinct.' That is what you call it, 'instinct.' We animals also have 'instinct.' We know who can harm us and who cannot."
"Tell me more."
"Oh yes, your father is a wise man. I wish there were more fathers like him. Many fathers give their children guns to play with. Not toy guns but real guns with real bullets. Some give them more powerful guns than the ones you are carrying. They give their children not only guns with bullets but also worse psychological guns. They do not understand that they are giving their children dangerous things to play with. With such guns, they kill not only animals but also their fellow human beings. And, they will finally kill themselves."
"Yes, I am listening."
"Human beings kill us innocent animals. We do not harm human beings, but they kill us. Other wild animals will not kill us unless they are hungry. They do not kill us for fun. Only human beings kill us for fun. Humans have so many good and tasty foods on their plates, but they treat our meat as a legacy. You know, they are not only killing us, but if they continue to degrade and spoil the environment with their greed, they will eventually kill themselves."
"Oh yes, we learn that at school."
"Dear boy, what you learn has no impact. Practice what you learn, and only then will the world be a better place. Learn to protect us wild animals, so that you protect yourselves. Please send the message to the entire world that they should not kill us. Let us co-exist, wild animals and human beings. That is the only way to save the planet. Please send this message. It is very urgent."
"The world may not listen to me."
"If they do not listen, that is up to them. Your responsibility is to tell the world about the dangers of environmental degradation. Future generations will blame you for the destruction of mother Earth."
"Okay, I will do my best. I will tell the world. For myself, I promise I will not kill any wild animals or birds from now onwards."
"Good. Then it is time for me to leave. Bye."
At this, the deer jumped from where it was grazing and vanished into the thick jungle.
Was I in a dream? Was it really that the deer talked to me? I pinched myself. Yes, I was not dreaming, but I had really met the wild deer. Yes, it did not talk to me in human language but sacred, which only the deer and I could understand.
With a sense of wonder and awe, I continued my journey to where my father was working. I kept thinking of what the deer had communicated to me. Could we make the world a better place? Could humans and wild animals co-exist? While preoccupied with my thoughts, I reached the field where my father was working.
Excitedly, I told him everything about the deer and the way it communicated to me. He understood. Yes, he agreed wild animals could communicate with humans, but only under special circumstances. I asked him why the deer had shown no fear. Why it did not run away from me?"
Then my father said, "I have been planning to give you some life lessons. This morning I took a chance. I told you to bring the gun along with you. At your age, a gun with bullets is too dangerous, so I removed the bullets. The deer knew that the gun you were carrying had no bullets."
"What and how?"
With a smile on his face, he opened his bag and showed me. Inside the bag were the shiny bullets.