Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

The old man and the beast

The dreadful night had ended. The enigmatic mist surrounding the hills were thinning away as the pristine rays of sunlight kept piercing at it. Old Niako clambered down the tortuous hill path; it was the smoothest way for a hike on the otherwise rough mountain way.

Niako was known as the old man of the mountain. His dignified posture and formidably confident steps belied the seventy-eight years he had spent amongst the forests. His face was etched with an indefatigable expression, with graying bristly beard, and his well-built body was tanned heavily from continuous exposures in the sun. He wore a rugged shawl wrapped tightly around his body and kept a thick twig for support. It was a miracle how Niako lived all alone in his abandoned cave for all this years.

Niako put down his stick, clamped his disheveled shawl and reached for the springs. As he splashed his face with the frosty water, he had a feeling that he was being watched. Niako looked up. There was no one. It was not long after he resumed his ablutions that some rustling footsteps reached his ears. It wasn't any paranoid imagination, Niako looked up again, and this time he saw a mammoth figure slowly emerging from behind the colossal oaks. Even Niako's brave warrior heart shuddered in an unknown fear. It was a wild byson…….

The gigantic beast limped forwards towards Niako, its massive chest heaving as it fumed ominously. Niako's heart kept palpitating hard as he recalled his fearful encounters with the wild bysons. He was a brave warrior of the Shikado tribe, which had once trode the forests of the wild east. They had the bravest of the human hearts, which showed the boldness which none other than god would have dared to manifest. They killed wild boars and dears for food and there were hardly any carnivores in the forests but the wolves. The wolves and bysons could kill only the weakest of the byson race, so the rest of the beasts were as strong and imposing as the demons- with menacing horns amongst its furry attire, and hooves that could crush the ribcages of men and wolves alike if it would have thrashed onto one. And after decades, when Niako had retired to the mountains, an avenging beast had come to pay one warrior back.

Niako's heart stopped beating, the beast was not fuming…..., it was taking the last of its breaths. Its limping body fell to the earth with a muffled thud as Niako rushed towards it.

The byson was wounded at the waist where a stone-headed spear had struck it. Niako pulled out the spear as the bear groaned with pain. Afterwards, he washed its wounds and then smeared it with meshed herbs. He took the beast to a nearby cave where it rested for the night.

The next day, at dawn, Niako was accosted by three men carrying the same stone-headed spears and arrows. They were from the Shikado tribe.

" Ow, wise old man, take our reverend greetings,", one of pleaded as he bowed before Niako " We have come in search of a fierce bison, we are aware that it had come your way, and are pleased to see you unharmed by the demon. Could you please show us where it went?

"I haven't seen any bison here, warrior, you can go back, " Niako lied in reply. The warriors didn't seem to believe it. "Be careful, Sir, that demon is a dangerous beast, it may be lurking anywhere nearby. We'll keep watch." The warriors curtseyed one more time as they hurried away.

"Demon…",Niako mused. The warriors wont give up, he knew,…… a demon had to be killed, no beast ever believed to be a demon was spared from the warriors, not a single one.

Niako had hidden the bison inside a cave-like meadow hidden by surrounding rocks, which is not unspottable at . The beast was gargantuan, bigger than any other beast he had ever seen Niako knew the tribesmen had reason to take him as a demon.

It was even in Niako's wildest dreams that he would tame a bison at this period of his life, when his strength had ceased to feebleness, when the tenacity of his youth had ebbed away. All his life as a gallant warrior of the Shikado tribe, he had mercilessly killed animals, and was leading a remorseful life until then. Surprisingly, the bison seemed to behave most loyally, redeeming all its beastly fury.

It was a sulky afternoon, the scorching heat of the sun mingled with the humid air to create the most uncomfortable ambience. Niako was sitting over the cliff, a frown over his face; the beast was almost stranded in the caves, he had to make a way for it to return to the forest. He got up, it can't wait anymore.

Niako was standing at the edge of the forest, he had secretly led the bison this far, all the way from the mountains. The beast strode towards the woods, looked back one last time, heaved his head, and then disappeared among the foliage of trees." Farewell, my friend".

A few days later:
Niako was sitting over the cliff, staring at the stagnant clouds sinisterly dappled over the sky, reminding him of his worst fears. He spotted a healthy-looking woman dressed in shawls, traversing the mountain edge. “Ahoy”, called out Niako; the woman turned back in reply, strode towards him and bowed. “Have you heard anything about a wild bison...” the lady's face brightened up, “Oh, that wild demon, well of course father, our brave warriors had been able to kill it, it itself killed two and injured six of our men, you should come and visit father...” ,the words were getting muffled, Niako couldn't hear anything anymore............

Two days later, Niako was found dead in his abandoned cave. All the members of the Shikado tribe congregated before his cave with a silent prayer in their mind, and then, altogether, they arranged his funeral, and, mournfully rested one of the bravest hearts ever to be born in their tribe. But no one knew that the man who had slayed beasts all his life had died with a heart filled with deep passion for animals.

Niako's grave was located near the mountain edge, where it dampens in the winter and rustles with leaves in the autumn. Often, one or the other of the forest bisons trudges along the grave....it stops for a moment, grazing intently at it, then with a low groan, trudges away.

The writer forgot to give his/her name


Pronouncing English

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

 
 
 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2007 The Daily Star