“They say that I am handsome only because of those three white lines. In fact, I haven’t even seen them as they are stamped on my back. To be honest with you, they didn’t make any difference in my life.” The squirrel replied for cockroach’s compliment, munching some cereals scattered on the courtyard.
“Does anyone remember me now? I am the Squirrel of Ramayana,” he continued moving around in a hurry as if he has just one more day to live. Cockroach looked surprised at his antics, with his mouth wide open.
“It was a rainy day in the forest. I woke up listening to a buddy bird chirping loud the news of some monkey’s march to the beach. I was so deep in sleep coz of the routine tiring day gathering food for dear little ones and my sweet heart. In sleep I didn’t even realize the heavy rain that socked me deep in. The whole forest was coloured green and grey with the water splashing from leaf tips and tree branches. Sunlight was struggling to find the way in through the dense green layer that protected us like a mother. Yet a few beams intruded into our world through hollow hallow spaces, blessing us with another new day of action and passion.”
“I shook my body to get rid of the water stuck to the skin. A few drops thus fell into my mouth. That day- for some crazy reason- the rainwater tasted salty like tears. Was the sky kept weeping for someone?”
“Curiosity is my colour by birth. True to that nature, I couldn’t resist the instinct. Rushing through the wet slippery branches I found my way targeting the seaside. I was new to those parts of the jungle and hence a bit scared about the owls and eagles possibly hiding here and there. Each day someone among us needed to be sacrificing our lives being the meal of their children. Now that is the general rule of the jungle, a city dweller like you might not understand.” The squirrel looked at cockroach, “It is all about sustaining the cycle of life and protecting a precious specious.”
“As I moved on, the appearance of the land and trees changed. Instead of monstrous ones like the bearded Banyan tree or the perfumed Jackfruit tree, there were more palms and coconut trees revealing the fact that I am quite nearer to the sea. In a few hours, along with the sound of rain, I heard the cry of monkeys in the air. Whether it is talk or action, no one can be as good as the monkeys. They were considered to be the most restless beings in our forest. But hardly anyone understood their talks; interestingly they themselves did’t seem to have any clue of their own conversations. Whatever ill we say, its them who had the will to support the Lord in his pain and thus the mission.”
“I reached the last layer of trees right near the beach. Sitting on top of a huge coconut tree I had an aerial view of the land underneath. I must say I had never seen anything like that before; it was stunning. As I told you, the monkeys were naturally active, but I had never seen them that active ever before. On the vast sand of the beach, in that continuous rain of agony, they were so busy in building the bridge across the sea. The whole monkey population was there including the old and the little ones; even the young elegant pregnant ladies to the ones who already had their babies hanging on their shoulders. On the extreme end of the beach I saw the Lord. He was obviously dull with the pain reflecting in his eyes. The birds were right; he looked so incomplete without his woman. For that matter, any man is incomplete without his woman by his side. Only the luckiest ones could have a good fate. Sita was still the part of his body and mind. The sea could be a physical barrier, but it couldn't be capable to fence their hearts. I knew the whole story about him and Sita from the gypsy migratory cranes that often visited the pools inside our forest. They all were philosophical in their talk because of genuine knowledge and understanding of the world. An old crane once told me that even the Gods needed to undergo the same struggles as of any other being, being a part of the living world. Hence Rama, the Lord too…”
“Among the monkeys I couldn’t identify most of the faces. But I recognized the monkey hero of the forest Hanuman and the leader of the lot, Sugriva. Without any sense of hierarchy they all were equally involved in sharing the tasks, carrying big rocks, sand etc for the construction of the bridge. The passionate engineers among them worked out many brilliant options to get it done fast. I heard that the big monkeys had to consult with the craftsmen of the jungle, the red ants and spiders, on tips for construction.”
“Immediately, a sense of responsibility stuck my mind and I crawled down the tree and ran across the sand towards the plot. I knew that they still needed more people, and I thought I could be of some help. I carried some sand in my hands and walked towards the bridge along with the other monkeys. They were all so involved that they didn’t realise me walking underneath. I had to really struggle between their massive inconsistent leg movements. As I threw the sand, I understood that it is too less compared to the huge sacks carried by the monkeys.”
“My little hands didn’t help me much. I had do something else. Probably that was the only moment in life I actually looked at my size. I wish I had bigger hands and body like them. While looking on my body, an idea flashed in. In the rain I was wet… I also had so much fur on my skin. Now that could work. I didn’t think much but followed my intuition plunging into the seawater from the bridge. Then swam back to the beach, twisted and turned on the sand, so that the it got stuck on my wet fur. It did work, my entire body including the face was covered by sand in seconds.”
“I then walked towards the bridge. Over there I shook my body, so that the whole sand falls on the bridge. It was quite a good plan and I felt so proud of myself. Yet deliberately, didn’t look at any monkey’s contribution. I knew that mine wouldn’t match them. I didn’t want to get beaten by that complex. So consciously avoided them and continued with what I was capable of. So many plunges in sea water… so many times crawling on the sand… so many times carrying the sand on my body to the bridge… the day just went on, busy on the task.”
“There was so much of energy and enthusiasm among the monkeys, that oozed into my mind too. We all had only one aim and one heart. Slowly, I somehow felt equal to them. I saw all of them, but no one seemed to have noticed me. I was even faster in my movements. In the time a monkey carried his sack of sand to the bridge, I almost finished with three of my rounds.”
“I didn’t even realize the passing time… I guess no one did, but the sun god was done with his ride in the sky for the day and was ready to hide himself in the sea. The horizon lost the blue, turning it red orangey.”
“I felt someone’s hand on my back and in no time I was lifted up from the ground. I shivered in shock. It was definitely not the catch of an owl or an eagle. A few among us who had narrow escapes from the clutches of the owl, had already explained to me how it felt on their skin. I was held so smoothly in the air. Ironically, the alarming shiver of my body changed to a sense of weird security in those hands. But still I was unable to look back and see the one who lifted me.”
“I felt the touch of another hand, with the fingers slowly moving on my back. A touch of care, love and gratitude… I closed my eyes for a moment. It was like seeing the whole world coming into me and me dissolving in the world. All the uncertainties became certain… all the questions changed to answers… I saw my little ones chirping and playing on my body; I felt my sweetheart’s breath on my chest. I realised that they are my world and I am for the world. My duty is to make my family happy... My duty is to make the world happy…”
"The tender hands that held me up, left me down too. As I touched the soil, my mind returned back to the reality of life - being the same little squirrel, crawling on trees, gathering food for children and loving his woman. The Lord did his duty to his parents, wife and the world, living as a normal human being experiencing all the struggles common for mankind.”
“They say that I got the three white lines on my back by the touch of his fingers. I had never seen the Lord close; I had only experienced that smooth soothing touch. Well, those three lines didn’t make any difference in my life. As the visionary gypsy crane said I am born in this world for that experiences of life, both the good and the bad - simple and straight. The Lord himself had to undergo all those hardships!”
“Centuries passed and I am still the same little squirrel of Ramayana… doing all that I am capable of doing. You are right Cockroach; I live as if I have only one more day to live.” He jumped over the fence of the courtyard and vanished in the green, just like any other squirrel.