The Day Nature Taught Me a Lesson
“The Day Nature Taught Me a Lesson” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Jayashabari Shankar, Sri Vijay Vidyashram New Campus Bagalur, India.
The Day Nature Taught Me a Lesson
I wiped off the sweat from my forehead. Summers were scorching in Indonesia. I was feeling so tired that I could barely play football with my friends. “Camelia, get the ball!” my friend Tina shouted. “Yeah,” I said putting my mind back into the game. My team was winning, but if I missed this goal, my team would lose. I ran to the ball and positioned it, aiming for the goal. I took a deep breath, shifted my leg ready, and kicked the ball! I immediately closed my eyes, too ashamed to witness the outcome, whatever it might be. The next thing I heard were cheers and pats on the back. I opened my eyes. The ball was cushioned in the net of the goal. Rosie, the goalkeeper, was standing near the goal, her hands on her hips. She had missed the goal and I had won! Woo-hoo! That nice feeling seeped through me. Rosie came running over to me. “Even I, the best goalkeeper, couldn’t catch that flying ball!” she said mockingly, but in an amiable way. “Thanks,” I said, my cheeks burning, despite the heat. Ann came running. Her hands were up. She made an imaginary whistle and was shouting, “Water break, water break! It’s time for a water break.” “All right,” I said smiling. “Even winners need a water break.”
Suddenly, my feelings dropped. I had to cross the forest to go home to drink water. My friends went home, waving their hands. They lived in the village nearby the football court, but I didn’t. I lived in the village far away from the court. I took the first step and wiped off the sweat from my forehead. After all, the saying says that a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step. I started walking quicker, and more briskly. I looked at my watch. It was two hours past noon. I still had an hour of time to go back home.
I stared longingly at the bushes around me. I could rest for a bit. I walked to a tree and slowly sat down. “Ahhh,” I sighed. It was very relaxing to sit under the shade of a tree after trekking a long time in the hot sun. Well, not exactly a long time, but a few minutes. However, walking here a few minutes was like sitting in the Sahara for a few hours, maybe even a day. Whatever, but I wonder how those poor souls in the Sahara survive. My thoughts extended as I relaxed myself of the branch of the tree trunk. It was pretty soothing….Hmmm….. Maybe I could take a teeny-weeny nap. You know a little rest. Suddenly, I snapped around. Something was rustling in the long grasses behind me. A chill rose down my spine. I didn’t know who or what the rustling object was, but all I knew was that it wasn’t a person. No one would go exploring in those grasses. There were snakes, insects, iguanas, and komodo dragons for sure. Or would they? This question caught my mind until I saw a swap of the creature’s tail. It was a komodo dragon! I quickly stood up. The dragon was coming for me! I haven’t learnt much of these creatures, only that they eat everything in sight. Plants, snakes, lizards, everything they can see. Even baby komodo dragons! Then something caught my thoughts from a book I had read about komodo dragons so long ago. These creatures eat everything in their sight, including humans. “Ahh!” I shouted. I began to run, my heart beating. I wasn’t running for a soccer match, or for school, or for any other silly purpose, I was running for my life!
The creature seemed to sense my thoughts. It swiped through the bushes, coming wherever I was. It didn’t seem to get tired at all. I looked back. The creature had disappeared. I slowed down a bit and stopped. But I was wrong. The creature swiftly came from the side of a bush and ran for my leg. It was too far for me to escape and too close for the creature to get one good meal. But something struck me. I ran back and shouted “STOP! I am not your enemy. I won’t harm you! Please! Don’t harm me. WE ALL LIVETOGETHER IN PEACE! We all live together in Indonesia. I’m your friend and you are my friend. Please! I ask you! Don’t harm me.” I didn’t know if I was dreaming or sleeping, but as soon as I said these words, the creature stopped running. It slowly walked to me. I got scared. Was it going to attack me? But instead of that, I got a reaction from it that I would never forget. It touched me with its leg and licked my leg. I immediately kneeled down to its level. The creature had done something unforgettable and truly amazing. It was like my words changed its heart. Whatever my words did, I think I am just lucky. Was it because I didn’t harm the creature as soon as I saw it? Or was it because I said that we lived together in peace? I don’t know why. The creature picked up one of its legs, waved it and put it on my head. I waved too and said “Good Bye.” I was sure it also wanted to say Bye. But it couldn’t because it didn’t know how to speak. The creature slowly walked away and showed me Bye for the last time. I waved too, for the last time, feeling so happy to have made peace with an animal so quickly.
The next thing I could hear and feel was someone calling my name and someone touching my head. I woke up, shocked. Was komodo attacking me? No, it was my friend. All my friends were gathered around me. We were in the forest. “Why are you here?” I asked them. “Don’t you remember?” Tina asked. I squinted to see her face. “You slept in the forest while going home. Your mom called us, asking where you were. We got worried about you, thinking that maybe you got lost in the forest. So we came looking for you. And here you were, asleep in the forest.” “But what about the komodo dragon?” I asked, looking around for him. “Which komodo dragon?” Ann asked. “I think you dreamt about one.” I stood up. I knew that the komodo dragon was real. I could still feel the touch of the majestic creature. “No, I didn’t,” I said. I could feel it touching me. “No Camela,” Tina said. “You got a dream, I’m sure. You must have fainted in the forest due to the sunlight, but no problem. Let’s go to your home. You can rest there for some time.” “Ok,” I said. I started agreeing with my friends, but I had a question. “Did we play a football match,” I asked. They all turned at me. “Don’t you remember? You won the match by putting the goal,” Tina said. “And I missed it,” Rosie added. I didn’t need any more proof or evidencethat the creature had seen me and spoken with me. I had enough proof. I had spoken with the creature and then slept in the forest. My mother was worried that I did not come home since a long time and had called my friends. My friends got worried and had come to the forest in search of me. They had found me asleep. I had met the creature and it had met me. I knew it. I didn’t need evidence. I touched my leg. It was still moist from the lick of the creature. The creature had met me and it had understood me. That was enough. It was enough to know that I was at peace with an animal. A truly magnificent one.
Suddenly, I seemed to understand that togetherness, friendship and peace were the most important qualities of life. Even nature seemed to know that spreaders of goodwill got goodwill themselves. I had never understood those qualities better till today. I guess nature just taught me a lesson. A lesson of truth that I’d never forget.