Rustle. Shiver. Timber.

Welcome to the jungle. The story here is not the warm, slightly chilling one that Kipling weaved, though Kaa (The Disney version), somehow, has managed to slither in and ruin things for everyone. Look around and you will see a state of ruin. And there’s no one standing up.

 

There was a forest, one that was on the verge of becoming a mighty one. Unfortunately, it was tarnished with the slime, the poison, and the excrement of a serpent.

This serpent was marked with stripes, and held an unyielding look of guile in its eyes. It was massive. It was egotistical. It was hated. It was feared. Yet, despite it being slow, no animal dared to stand up against it and cut its head off. It was said that it had hypersensitive hearing, and could grasp a sigh from the other end of the forest. Regardless of the rumour’s truth, the serpent’s size, alone, allowed for it to get in the way of anything it chose. And the trail of mental and physical debris that it left in its wake was sickening and heart-wrenching.

 

Yet not a soul dared confront the serpent.

 

For many years, the serpent had slithered amok, doing as it pleased, sinking its fangs into anything that displeased it. It had divided species, setting brothers at each other’s throats. It had poisoned the watering hole, governing whispers and words, injecting lies and misguiding narratives. It had slimed the ecosystem with its spit and stool. It preyed on the weak. It did not just leave the weak to the wolves; it turned the wolves to protect its own purpose, to guard its body from attack, and to reinforce its delicately disguised terror.

Even relations with the neighboring forest were strained. Granted, the other forest had faulted many times, but the serpent made sure that its forest would discriminate and never rise above and be the better one.

It vomited on the arts and ploughed through sports.

 

Its appetite was never quenched. And no soul dared to gut it.

 

The forest always rustled with debate. There were those that sided with the serpents and its wolves. There were those that opposed the tyranny. Yet the sun would always set on indecisiveness.

The rapes, the murder, the gold rush, the blackmail – they all continued. Try as it might, the population of the world’s largest forest watched in dismay as the chorus cried, “Timber!”

 

Few packed up to call another forest home. The many looked around, urging one another to lead, communicating by eye movement and head-jerks. Nobody wanted to be ‘Pawn to e4.’ Some tried to step up but did so without any vigour, and eventually fell to the wayside.

The anger towards the serpent and its wolves was substantial. The leaves rustled with the whispers of the words: “The good days have come.” These words were hollow. Some laughed uneasily that the better days were going to arrive.

 

Owlets fluttered across the network of branches, leaves, and overturned trunks. Their careful ‘hoos’ echoed off the walls of the grapevine, bringing attention to the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’

The forest stirred.

Only once the day was refreshed would the community know of what was to come.

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