Cheetah yawned. It was a typically drowsy, warm summer day.
He looked around, utterly bored. There never was anything to do in this awful jungle. Once again, the regret of having to relocate to this dull place smote him. He sighed sadly. He’d had to relocate; there were no gazelles or deer left in his old jungle. Here, food was aplenty. But one doesn’t live by food alone. He had other needs; needs that were not being addressed. He was a very frustrated Cheetah.
He yawned again.
The brotherhood of cats in this jungle was mind- numbingly lackluster. In his old jungle, the cats were a happening group. They never had a dull moment. Of course, it was easier because they’d all been born and raised in that jungle. They had the familiarity of long association. He missed all his buddies but he missed Tiger the most. They constantly had wagers with each other on who could run faster, who had a better hit rate. Over time Cheetah had significantly improved his speed from the average cheetah speed of 115km/ hr to 130km/hr. His hit rate- the number of times he managed to catch his prey- had also gone up from a typical cheetah average of 50% to nearly 70%.
In this jungle, the cats were a dull lot. They did have an association which met once a fortnight but the talk could put you to sleep in ten minutes flat. When he’d received an invitation for the first time a few days after he had moved, he was thrilled. Half way through the meeting he could have burst into tears. They talked about nothing but general management of the jungle resources. It was more like a drippy whining forum than anything else. Cheetah was perfectly disgusted.
For the entire meeting there was no talk of personal performance. In his old jungle, the cats had all talked openly of how they had improved their speed… how they had learned new things about the prey. They shared new tips freely amongst each other. To outsiders their meetings might have looked like bragging sessions, but Cheetah and his mates didn’t think so at all. The (bragging) sessions helped keep all of them on their toes and get better at hunting. After all, what else was the purpose of life but to live it to the hilt in the best way you could?
After his first disastrous meeting, Cheetah had returned home pensively. He wouldn’t be able to survive such dullness, he was sure of that. After many hours of intense thought, he decided to try and change things. He decided to invite all the cats to one of his hunting sessions. He was sure they’d begin to think in the right direction when they saw his performance. His head was full of visions of cats patting his back and begging him to teach them also how to run faster or improve their hit rate. Cheetah needed to bask in the sunshine of his mates’ approval. He was accustomed to stardom; obscurity did not sit well with him. He chafed under the yoke.
He fixed a date and got invites printed. Over the next two days he went to all the prides, individual lairs and ranges dropping his invites. Then he waited for the big day.
On the appointed day, Cheetah woke up well in time and primed himself to a better performance than ever before. To enable the cats to have a perfect view of his operations, he had chosen to hunt in a shallow valley. The cats could all stand on the lip of the valley and see how he went about his work. He waited impatiently for the cats to arrive.
It was a ‘me’ show. For the uninitiated, a ‘me’ show is one in which no one turns up but ‘me’, the host.
Cheetah was devastated! This was completely unexpected. He was livid, dejected and sorrowful by turns. He was unable to understand it.
Personally, he couldn’t imagine anything better to do with his time than to see an expert like himself demonstrate his skill. Apparently though, the other cats of this jungle did not think so. It spoke volumes of their indifferent intellect surely. Cheetah’s lip curled derisively.
What did they need? Was it possible he did not invite them properly? Perhaps they needed him to insist? Maybe they needed to be made feel important. Perhaps they were waiting for him to grovel. Maybe they were skeptical because he was a new member of their brotherhood?
Slightly cheered by the thought, Cheetah decided to step up his efforts. He was sure that once they had seen him hunt, everything would fall into place. He would surely be able to ignite the dullest of them into an effort towards improvement. The brotherhood would become a lively place with all cats learning from each other and getting better at their jobs. Of course, he would win hands down, but that was okay.
With this vision firmly fixed in his mind’s eye, Cheetah got ready for battle.
Now, as he sat yawning, bored to tears, he looked back upon the many months of wasted effort. His desire to light a fire under the collective belly of the association had been a total flop. Once or twice a few cats did come to see him perform but they came as if they were doing him a favor- and only because he’d latched on to them so insistently. There was no discussion following the demos. Not only was there was no improvement in any of them, Cheetah saw no desire for improvement either. The question that defeated Cheetah was- we feed ourselves well enough even now, why should we try to get better?
How did one go about explaining the obvious!?
Cheetah was stumped and had to give up. But the pain remained.
In the past few weeks Cheetah had noticed that he too was slowing down. He didn’t care to improve himself, or even to maintain the levels he had reached. One needs stimulation for a constant striving for improvement. Cheetah was a simple soul. He hadn’t evolved to the level where he could inspire himself. He craved the approval of his fellows. He needs the pats on the back. He needed to win their respect by matching his own excellence against theirs. Yes, he craved the competition.
Cheetah was terribly scared. After all, life is not static. Its dynamism compels it to move. If it cannot move forward, it will move backward. But move it will.
Cheetah could feel life dragging him backward.
He was scared out of his wits.
To be continued…
Pic from the Internet.
Note: I received a note from WordPress today. Apparently, I have completed four years of ‘flying’ with them. And what a journey it has been!
Thank you for your support dear readers. Your patronage- to say nothing of your feedback- have made these four years an enriching journey for me. I have learned immensely in these years. None of it could have happened without you. I thank you for being with me as I pray for a continued association.