[ The V.I. HomePage | Back to the V.I. Literary Archives Menu |The Seladang 1967 - Part I]
THE KNIGHT IN WHITE PANTS
As I stretched myself and sent the first morning breeze through the school, I saw her coming up the drive - my first Girl-on-Her-First-Day. She alighted from the car. I could see the happy anticipation, on her face, the triumph in her smile. (She, of course, did not even know I existed.) "Through the Gates of Splendour at last…" I could imagine her say.
There approached a figure, in white pants. As he drew near, she looked undecided. Should she let him carry her lunch-box or the file? Thus engaged in her mental conflict, she looked up to find a grim, unsmiling face.
"You are not allowed to stop your car here. Please move to the car park."
THAT, decidedly, was NOT the Knight-in-White-Pants whom she had been expecting ever since she knew her Destination '67 to be the Victoria Institution, Shaw Road. I breezed after her as she, pink in the face, went on her way. I wonder if she heard the words I breathed after her:White pants, white pants everywhere,
Nor any knight in sight.
Going on my usual round, I met another First-Day-Girl entering the library. She did not look as if she had found The Knight. She stepped (was actually pushed) into the room, and found herself caught in what seemed to be the rush hour crowd at Foch Avenue Bus Stop. The cause of the congestion was the Turnpike of Chivalry. Ah, the hearts that have been lost and won at that Merry-Go-Round! Clinging to the iron bar, our heroine was about to make it finally into the Library proper when she was literally swung off as a few hefty White Pants barged in. Hope was banished, joys were vanished. Her Knight could not possibly have been in the Library.
I followed her out of the room and into the Reading Room, at the heels of a Possible Knight. This one went as far as leaving the door open (after he had entered). She stepped in through the door only to have it slammed into her elbow. The Now-Impossible Knight turned unconcerned; noticeably shrank at the loud clatter of books and compass box on the floor. I had had enough. Giving our heroine a little puff to cool her hot cheeks, I fled.
I wafted from room to room, checking on our heroines as they patiently awaited The Knight. I turned cold as I saw damsels-in-distress precariously balancing chemicals on their hands and attempting to reach their benches over bags and legs. Indeed, I froze at one particular abuse of Chivalry. I was moving past a classroom when I was detained by a loud chorus of "Ladies first!" in masculine baritones. Imagine my horror to hear next the teacher saying, "When it comes to work and assignments, you boys will always say 'Ladies first', eh?"
After having taken considerable time to thaw myself after THAT incident, I found our heroines in the Cloakroom. Ah, loud the wails, heavy the sighs, as they surveyed their progress so far in their SEARCH.
"Ah, so handsome, so handsome, but so rude, so rude…"
"Maybe they just don't come in pairs, Charm and Chivalry."
I was practically swept out of the room as the door burst open to admit a white-faced and excited maiden.
"HELP! He spoke to Me! He actually spoke to me!"
What followed was such a din that I had to bang the door to bring them back to the V.I., Shaw Road.
"What did he say? Wow, lucky you...... What DID he say ?
"He said, 'PLEASE LEAVE THE CLASSROOM'. Isn't that SOMETHING?"
I knew they should not have been so excited. I decided to make one last round to see if the Knight had appeared. The tuck shop was so crowded that I nearly turned back. Suddenly I saw the development of what might turn out to be The Arrival. Two of our heroines were timidly trying to fit into a long line of White Pants. As the line of legs moved steadily forward without giving way, they were about to resign themselves to hungry stomachs when a gap suddenly appeared in front of them. HE tilted his head and smiled. Giving HIM a big smile, they moved into the line. My hope was rising. Ah Chivalry, you may not fail them yet.
One final episode left me doubtless. Three damsels in distress were staring at the drain wherein lay a pretty laced handkerchief, soaked in mud. As they stood helplessly hoping for a gallant gentleman, another HE appeared. Grinning politely, he retrieved the hanky and returned it to the girls.
Ah, CHIVALRY AT LAST! HE had arrived. There was yet hope. Not too much to depend upon, but neverthless prospects were brightening. One ray of dim hope was perceptible yet. THE KNIGHT-IN-WHITE-PANTS HAD ARRIVED. No matter that he came in SHORT PANTS, AND STOOD FOUR FOOT TEN!!
TO IRON VITALS… A TRIBUTE
IF ever I was asked why I admired the average Victorian, my observation would be just this: his ardent patronage of the tuckshop, but more so, his unrivalled ability to endure the so-called food on display within those said premises.
My recollections take me six years back, and as far as I can remember, the menu has not been changed an infinitesimal bit except for a "grand" addition in the form of chicken porridge which was not any better. At the beginning it was a welcome change to sip porridge in rotation with laksa or nasi lemak. My anticipation proved right to the very last letter of the word. The porridge was not only exceptionally high in percentage of water but, it was presumably "flavoured" with a tinge of kerosene, nourished with a few strands of chicken's breast and some jawbreakers like tempered sotong. Of course you are at liberty to use as much sauce, pepper and oil but then chopped leeks are highly treasured, yet not so much as the fried crispy mee-hoon - that is usually sprinkled by a careful individual in the person of a cheeky, skinny little girl. This skinny lass also finds it more convenient to offer her customer a bottle of F&N Cherryade instead of F&N Orange, even though a careful probe into the cooler would satisfy the customer's fancy.
Right from the very beginning the laksa proved to be a great hit, solely because there were no other hits! The deceptively delicious and steaming contents that are stuffed into the student's hands need no introduction. At first glance the luscious orange-red gravy apparently triggers off the salivary glands and jostles the tummy into a delightful croon. Nonetheless, the customers have a choice (just fancy!), and, surprisingly, not a bad one, between cockles or sliced fish biscuits. All that for twenty cents and the consequences to be borne by the stomach.
Perhaps those faithful people who serve behind the counter are overwhelmed by the belief that their six-year going on seven-year-old menu has stood the test of time. For instance, the fishballs and bean curd products, stuffed with fish have always been available for sale, cold as ever and duly molested by bare fingers before the simple transactions are made. No one is too surprised on encountering a little piece of stone which is often complementary to the kueh teow and the saltless, vegetableless and tasteless but carefully blackened fried mee or meehoon.
We have given up hoping that it was time the tuckshop people became more enterprising and sell cooked meat and vegetables along with plain rice to offer those who normally take lunch there. When such a thing did happen, I thought a dream had come true! That was one day a year ago. Later it came to my knowledge that what the tuckshop had sold that day was something in excess of a meal meant for a group of sportsmen, I believe, sojourning in the school at that time.
The next occasion when a similar dish made an appearance was a short time back. The experiment lasted two days before the people concerned retired to expend their energy on the old menu. Actually the course was quite simply a plate of plain rice offered with vegetables, a touch of fish and lots of gravy. It was better than the regular fried rice where the only visible items in addition to the brownish rice were some tomato cubes, of three cubic centimetre dimensions, and some prawns of questionable age and origin and other microscopic bits and pieces of meat or vegetable matter if you are in luck.
Anway, on the second day of this rare treat that I am compelled to mention again, after attacking the contents of my plate voraciously, I turned to one of the tuckshop females and asked her why her people did not offer more food to go with the rice in addition to the eggs that were so conspicuously marketed on the first day of the aforesaid experiment with the new dish. I just had to be satisfied with a shrug of her shoulders and some inaudible emanations from the throat or mouth. I tried again.
"But we will be happy to pay more since we are doing exactly that whenever we feel it justified to repair to one of those shops or respectable stalls in the centre of town.
No answer. That was the end of everything and, what's more, the dish has never again appeared since.
Everyone should have given up long ago but, alas, necessity compels us to turn to the tuckshop not for a hearty meal, but rather merely to stuff up our gnawing vitals now much oriented and adapted to such daily tortures. The only mitigating factor about the tuckshop, apart from the building itself, is the relatively cheap bottled drinks and curry puffs, provided they are fresh and not those that are re-heated on top of the boiler at our confectioner's.
The Way to Success
I do not propose to devote this discussion to the many ways and means to material gains; indeed, to think of success in terms of these would be as narrow-minded as regarding education only in terms of instruction. I am thinking more of the success of the personality. Certainly we do not have to be important men to have an admirable personality but, whatever we are, we have to attach much more importance to our manner and conduct in everyday affairs. A good personality is never inherent in one; it is developed. There are certain qualities that can be developed upon which the personality is moulded.
What a good many of us lack is confidence. We must have pride and confidence in our own abilities. It is only then that others can have confidence in us. Wavering and fear of responsibility will not do. To be deterred from doing anything notable by a lack of initiative may not be serious; the serious thing is that one may never emerge from the background.
When we are given our due share of tasks, they will have to be carried out, despite our reluctance to shoulder responsibility. The attitude "someone else will do it, why trouble myself" may appear harmless to you, but it would be disastrous if everyone were to take that stand. Responsibility is often a challenge to our ability and that is perhaps why many of us are unwilling to accept it. That is also why, when we have fulfilled our responsibilities, we find that the experience has been satisfying and instructive. This is the kind of activity that brings interest and meaning into our lives. Inactivity and indifference may seem appealing, but success never comes to the one who refuses to accept responsibility.
We need to develop the art of effective co-operation. Let not the dreams of personal glory deceive us into thinking that a man can go it alone. This highly complex society of ours offers rare opportunities for this and it is becoming a necessity to be able to work competently in co-ordination with the group. Co-operation is more than working together; it is the ability to accept others' opinions and the willingness to incorporate them into a body of ideas. Dogmatism stifles; it kills not only the spirit of friendly co-operation but also chokes constructive thinking.
There is a dire need for constructive co-operation. It is not enough to do just as we are told to. The question that we should always ask ourselves is: What interesting ideas can I contribute? There are often so many ideas quite overlooked by others and, if we feel that one's ideas may add variety or bring improvement, we should not remain silent.
Tact is one quality that is sadly lacking in many of us. Very often we unwittingly burst out words much to another person's embarrassment or injury. I remember the case of a young man who was asked for his opinion of a gift suit which a distinguished but portly friend was wearing. Quite loudly, he answered, "Your person does not suit it." Perhaps he had meant that what he was wearing was not quite suitable. Needless to say, that friend was offended. There are times when we should pause to think of what to say and how to say it. It does not require any special ability to change a remark like "It looks ugly" to something more tactful like "I think it would be better if you improved on it" or "'Some features need to be changed". Tact is merely the art of commenting on something unpleasant in any helpful way. Tactful remarks may not endear us to others but we can be sure of their respect for our opinions.
Clearly we must cultivate a certain amount of consideration and self-restraint. It should not be thought that we need self-restraint only in violent emotional moods but we should maintain it all the time. We may dislike a person but we should restrain from passing unpleasant remarks about him. We may disagree vigorously with others but we must restrain from adding fuel with malicious comments on our part. We may be intensely angry with others but we must not indulge in words and actions that will make our differences.a permanent breach.
A successful personality is infectious; each man will have to work out his own formula for success. But I have discussed some of the fundamental qualities that lead to success. I do not say that it is easy to acquire these qualities, but we must try.
The Chinese New Year
Lau Chee Khin, 3E.
When the clock strikes the hour of midnight on the eve of the Chinese New Year, out gallops the Horse after a sojourn of twelve months while fire-crackers, crashing cymbals and blasting Chinese trumpets join in a noisy medley to welcome the Ram to another New Year after a rest of eleven years. Chinese people all over the world observe this beginning of another lunar year with fifteen days of merry-making, festivity and traditional celebrations. The New Year's Day occurs on the first new moon after the sun enters the sign Aquarius. Hence it always falls between January 22nd and February 20th.
Traditionally, the celebrations begin on the 24th day of the last month of the old year when the Kitchen God makes his annual trip to Heaven to report on the conduct of the household under his charge to the Jade Emperor, the traditional Ruler of Heaven. The household offers the Kitchen God honey and sugar-candy to sweeten his lips so that only sweet words will flow from his mouth when he makes his report. The annual spring cleaning also occurs during the last few days of the old year and the women engage themselves in preparing food for both ancestral offerings and for entertainment.
On the night of the New Year's eve a family reunion dinner is held. The entire family, young and old alike, gather together to forgive past misdeeds and hope for better times together as they set themselves upon food of various descriptions and styles of preparation. Before this dinner, unlike other dinners, the main courses are offered to the spirits around the home. Offerings are first made to the spirit of passage guarding the entrance to the house, then to the spirits of the ancestors on the family altar and, finally, to the spirit of the road who ensures safety in travel.
During the offerings, joss sticks and incense sticks are lit. Joss sticks are lit in pairs to signify that both parents will enjoy long lives together while incense sticks are burnt in threes for this number and multiples of it are considered lucky. Wine is poured onto the ground and this is believed to reach the spirits who are just below the ground. Paper money and clothes are then burnt and the ashes that fly away are believed to be received by the ancestors in the next world. At midnight some families hold a supper which contains no meat - only rice and vegetables. Some people visit the temples after this supper.
New Year's Day is largely spent in the exchange of greetings and merry-making. People don their best clothes and visit relatives and friends wishing them "Kong Hee Fatt Choy" (meaning "Congratulations. May you prosper.") Married couples are offered a cup of tea each by a younger member of the family and they, in return, give a red packet to him or her so long as he/she is single.
Feeling that what they do on this day will reflect on them throughout the year, people are in their best moods and avoid thinking or saying bad things. Quarrels, beatings, scoldings or the shedding of tears are considered ill omens during this festival. Brooms are kept out of sight for fear that they will sweep aside the prosperity and good fortune of the family. Merry-making in the form of playing fire-crackers is commonplace. Theatres and amusement parks swarm with vacationers. Business establishments usually close down for about four days. Farmers and merchants perform dragon or lion dances to usher in a prosperous New Year.
Feasts are arranged on the fourth day of the New Year to welcome the return to their homes of the Gods who have been holidaying in Heaven. The festivities include the celebration of the birthday of Tean Koong, God of War and God of the Earth. On this day superstitious people stay indoors for fear of being caught in the rain which they believe is the water used by this deity to wash his mighty sword.
The New Year festivities conclude on the fifteenth day, called Chap Goh Meh, the loveliest night of the year with much feasting and burning of fire-crackers. The Chinese spend lavishly in celebrating the festival in the hope of gaining much more in return during the course of the year.
ALL THE SCHOOL'S A STAGE L.C.M.
Life - Reality or Dream? Yeoh Oon Hock, Old Boy, 1960-1966
Yeoh Oon Hock, Old Boy, 1960-1966
As was our custom, Wen Ch'ou and I sat down at the local wine shop for an afternoon cup. For the past two months, we had met regularly and discussed worldly as well as spiritual matters over a cup of wine. Today Wen looked troubled and I waited for him to start the conversation.
"Yang, last night, I dreamt that I was a butterfly and flew to the four corners of the earth and around the four seas. Now I cannot tell for sure whether I am a man who has just dreamt that he was a butterfly or a butterfly now dreaming that he is a man."
"You mean to say that our meeting here is all a dream? Why, I think it is preposterous. I can't be having the same dream at the same time."
"Perhaps it is unlikely for two persons to have the same dream at the same time but how do I know you are real ?"
"I don't quite follow your argument."
"Well, look at it this way. Suppose you are part of my dream, then you can't be real nor can you be dreaming. So the question of two persons having the same dream simultaneously does not arise."
"But then what about me? I am a thinking reality."
"How do I know you are real?"
"I know I am real."
"Yes, you know you are real but I don't know. I can't be sure that you are real and not part of my dream."
Pause. I lifted my cup and took a sip.
"Suppose I kicked you. Won't that convince you that I am real?"
"Don't be childish, Yang. Haven't you ever been kicked in a dream? Why, you feel the kick all the same and it did not make the person who kicked you any more real. The senses can and will deceive. If you can convince me by reasoning then well and good. Kicking doesn't help."
"I think you are saying all this to avoid being kicked."
We laughed and drank deeply. I refilled our cups and continued.
"By the way, how do you know butterflies can dream?"
"And how do you know butterflies can't dream?"
Pause. We drank again as I contemplated his question.
"Even if you proved to me that butterflies can't dream, you still cannot convince me that this meeting of ours is real. You see, if butterflies can't dream, then my being a butterfly must be a dream - it can't be reality. But that doesn't prove our meeting is real. For all I know I might be the Emperor of China dreaming up this meeting of ours."
"I get your point. Now I shall convince you that this is reality. Tell me, Wen, do your dreams last a long time?"
"That is a queer question. I don't even know which is reality and which is a dream. How can I then tell you how long my dreams last?"
"You don't appear to see my point. For the past two months or so, we have been meeting here drinking. Think of the forty odd years of your life or dream as you put it. Do you think it is reasonable that you should have a dream that goes on and on for over forty years, a dream that is so complete, a dream that keeps recurring when another dream ends?"
"Yes, perfectly reasonable."
"What! who has ever heard of a dream that covers the whole length of memory?"
"Yang, I think you have hit on the whole solution - memory. Tell me, there were twenty-four hours yesterday. Can you recollect every minute of those twenty-four hours ?"
"Of course not, but I can recall all the major events that occurred."
"So, yesterday is a trace of memory - an incomplete recollection. Is yesterday a dream or is it reality? No, it appears more like a very vivid dream. But I have had vivid dreams before. Very vivid ones indeed. What makes you think that yesterday is any more real than any other dream ?"
He paused, took a sip and went on.
"That which you call and know as reality is nothing but an extraordinarily long and vivid dream. Yesterday by itself is meaningless. Today by itself is meaningless. Tomorow by itself is also meaningless. Like any other dreams they are all meaningless. Together, they form what we know as reality. A reality that differs from dreams only in that it is continuous. No, Yang, dreams are the manifestations of the mind. What we know as reality is the manifestation of a greater mind. Reality is but a dream."
Wen finished his cup, got up, shook his robes carefully, and bade me farewell. I sat at the wine shop contemplating his words. I drank.
It was at this point that I woke up to face reality once more .... or is it the begining of another dream?
In any society whose people enjoy a high standard of living and a considerable amount of leisure, it is inevitable that culture will grow in importance to assume a more vital role in the lives of the people. However, if the condition of a society is such that the culture which prevails has not grown genuinely out of the life and work of the people as 'spontaneous expression of the people' but, instead, has originated from ruling social groups and has become a product for mass consumption, then the role of culture which is to uplift the spirit of man will tend to degrade not only the spirit but also the mind and values of the members of that society.
Such is the state of our modern society, a society that has much to boast about with its science and technology, its high standard of living and literacy and its people free from the bondage of manual labour to enjoy the fruits of science in their long leisure hours. There is, unfortunately, little to boast of when culture is degraded and along with it human values and morals. These are some of the evil consequences of an affluent society.
The vast improvements in the means of communication have made possible a greater amount of cultural activity to be shared by the people. What had once been confined to the élite who were wealthy enough to attend concerts and plays is now within the reach of everyone who can afford to buy a radio or television set. These praiseworthy improvements of communications have ironically become responsible for the propagation of mass culture, and the consequent passivity of its victims.
The kind of culture called mass culture is the result of all the elements which make our society a modern and progressive one. The large increase in population with its raised standard of living means that more and more people are able to own radios and television sets, buy books and magazines and go to cinema shows. Culture which has formerly been the spontaneous expression of one's emotions and aspirations is now a manufactured product, designed to satisfy the majority of the television viewers, cinema-goers and book fans. The majority consists of the semi-educated people who do not know or care to distinguish true from false art, but prefer those forms of entertainment and culture which are easily understood and digested without much activity of the mind.
Mass culture, fabricated by ruling social groups, consists largely of debased traditional culture. Not only is it a debased culture but its predominance also tends to displace traditional culture. In a competition between serious ideas that require mental effort to appreciate and commercialized formulae based on easily-digested ideas, the taste of the masses rather than that of the individual holds weight. To describe this common, commercialized culture in which shades of quality are gradually being blurred, M. V. C. Jeffreys has used the term 'Homogenized Culture'. In it, all barriers of class, traditions, tastes and even age are broken down. Everything is scrambled and the final product which reaches the mass via radio, television, books or films is a synthetic, superficial kind of culture.
The danger of such a kind of culture is that its society becomes attuned to the dictates of quantity rather than quality with the result that values and tastes are debased to suit the lowest standards of the people. Individualism is suppressed and, consequently, the ability to reason for oneself is obliterated. Herein lies the greatest curse of mass culture - the members of such a society become easy targets for power groups using the mass media to capture, first, the minds of the people and then the people themselves. This is especially true of the semi-educated people, those who are educated enough to understand the propaganda but not educated enough to understand what is really being done to them.
The only way to combat such a culture lies in the schools which stress the importance of individual thinking and which lay emphasis on these abiding values based on truth which will stand fast in a world of rapid technological change. Cultural activities which create opportunities for co-operation and for the expression of the self should be encouraged.
Only then can the present mass culture of our modern society be able to raise itself and with it the spirit of mankind to the heights of excellence.
The Victorian Spirit
I wish to direct your thoughts to the school, more specifically to this oft-quoted cliché - the Victorian Spirit. I have heard this phrase used many times, in jest and in jeer, with meanings which range in variance from lethargy to loyalty to obsession. But what is the Victorian spirit? I think it vital that every boy and girl who stands up to sing the school song, who cheers the home team to victory, who dares to wear the school badge and calls himself or herself a Victorian should be able to answer that question.
What is the Victorian spirit? What is that which says:
Ever to uphold the school,
In our work and in our leisure,
With such zeal and in such measure…"
It is not enough to say the words. That does not make a Victorian. To uphold the school is to honour, respect and cherish it. It means refraining from criticising in a manner other than constructively, defending the name Victoria Institution, upholding the Alma Mater honourably. It also means refraining from indiscriminate remarks to outsiders, lame excuses for turning down a big game and popular jokes at the expense of the school's reputation.
It demands respect for teachers, regardless of how good or bad they may be. It calls for a sincere effort to do as they request, punctuality in handing in assignments and appreciation of their work. It also demands that we give a cheerful "Good Morning" or an ungrudging "Thank You" to our teachers every time.
It demands love and loyalty to cherish memories and common experiences, both sad and happy, to stand in protection in difficult times, to help fellow Victorians in every need, and to think the highest of the school in all circumstances.
I will not be wrong in asserting that there are some students who still creep like "a snail unwillingly to school". The whining schoolboy with his satchel is the last image of the Victorian. The proper attitude towards the school should be studies and sports - "That instruction be not all; Nor this school just roof and wall."
Victorian spirit means the utmost in every field of school life. It is the spirit which shouts, "Play up Play up ! Play the game!"
The school has always been noted for its admirable discipline in public and school events. Sports Meets, Exhibitions and others have been occasions for the display of splendid spirit and zeal. But this should not be limited to important functions alone. True loyalty depends on the individual. It is heartening to see pupils spontaneously and voluntarily cheering for a school game, however unimportant it may be.
Perseverance is a rare virtue among us. Yet the V.I. demands the ultimate effort till the very end. The real test of the spirit comes when odds are against us. It does not matter who wins the race but rather how it is run.
The Victorian may deem it his duty to gain the laurel of the field, but he should not forget the school motto: Be Yet Wiser. His foremost concern should be for his studies. It is the wisest yet who can coordinate time and duty to court both the book and the field. One should never be sacrificed for the other. The stakes are too high. The V.I. yearns for wise loyalty, not obsessed jingoism.
Education consists not of studies and sports alone; it demands participation. We need a wider outlook of education. Mere regurgitation of facts is not wanted. Remember that all who pass through this school must face the world with broad minds and determined spirits that have to be nurtured. The Victorian is a well-versed person prepared to encounter all situations. He must bear all his life the Victorian spirit with a distinct mark and manner.
The Victorian spirit is not instilled with the wearing of a metal badge. Many have left the school ground without so much as having been touched by it. It is cultivated, nourished and wisely established. It does not mean that the spirit is the more admirable for the longer it has been possessed. Some of the most outstanding and loyal Victorians have been in the school for a shorter time than others, especially those who join our Sixth Form for only two years.
Schooldays are the best days, though many present scholars will disagree. Yet when we come down to it, the most energetic and enthusiastic part of our life is spent within the school walls. With so much to look back on, it will be tragic that the school should not leave its mark on us nor we our mark on it. The more we give, the more we shall carry away as memories. That is the core of the Victorian Spirit.
Donald Lee, L6A1
stifled, can you give?
can you ever learn to live?
like silent darkness in the night.
it throbs and hits again - again.
is giving wrong?
with much to give?
let hearts retire is that to live?
should stop, arrest this deep-set feeling
for life is such
and part of this,
is giving much with much to give.
N. Radhakrishnan, V.I. '66
Forever at war with self and soul,
Self against self divided.
Thwarted by failure from wanted goal,
Still. Stagnating. Undecided.
Scared to face and fight the world.
Wholly utterly derided.
To the social void ignominiously hurled,
Alone. Waiting. Unprovided.
A Long Short Story
Azmi Khalid, L6A1
The valley was at first rich and thriving with food, but it was practically surrounded by high ridges. There was no significant wild life there, that is, until a panting herd of deer came crashing through one day. The leader was a tall stately creature with a beautiful hide, but his antlers were broken.
The deer stopped near a bubbling brook and rested there. By mid-evening they all comfortably bedded down under the cool shade of the trees and night found them sleeping at the same spot. The herd did not leave the Valley, and as weeks and months rolled by, it was evident they were making it their permanent home.
Food was plenty and life was easy. The deer grew fat and lazy and careless, but they were happy. They were proud of themselves for having found the rich Valley and having made full use of its resources. Many died and young ones were born, and the deer found no trouble in life.
Then the whole course of their existence changed when one day from the northeast some antelope espied them. These cousins of theirs went away but came back later with a large horde of their kind. But the Deer welcomed their cousins warmly and bade them stay to taste the abundant fruits of their home, at the same time helping to ensure that the food stayed plentiful. The Antelope, who are wanderers by nature and had lots of skills in many crafts, helped the Deer a great deal so that these animals became very dependent upon each other.
But the Antelope were temperamental and caused quite a lot of trouble that their cousins had to endure. There was the instance when fierce Tigers invaded their Valley and hundreds of Deer were killed. The Antelope all ran away, leaving the Deer to protect their homes. When the Tigers were chased off by the Leopards, the deer still suffered at the latters' hands. The Antelope still stayed away.
The Valley became occupied for a long memorable period. Even the Hyena came for some time but the big, friendly Elephants ousted them and promised to protect the Deer. Only then did the Antelope return. So did another group of animals from the north-west, the black Sheep, who had been befriended by the Deer.
The Elephants stayed for a long time in the Valley and had the most influence on the animals there. They seemed very pleasant and always helpful, but in actual fact they were only selfishly obtaining gains for their fat bellies. This caused the other animals to become very angry and they lodged complaints about them. But the Elephants were clever and played tricks upon their protégés. They caused the Antelope to fight the Deer, and made the Sheep dissatisfied. The Antelope believed that the Deer did not want them in the Valley any more and even had big fights against them.
Even when the Elephants left the Valley for good, the Antelope could not take their orders from the Deer, their friends. The Antelope were very dissatisfied about the Deer wanting to protect the ownership of their homes. Some Antelope even went to the extent of taking one piece of the Valley for themselves and not allowing anyone from other areas to enter. Their existence was very meagre and their future looked bleak.
Now, while other parts of the land surrounding the Valley are in very pitiful conditions, the Valley is still quite rich and the inhabitants quite happy. Their only complaint is that the Deer, the Antelope and the Sheep still do not wish to be called "The Inhabitants of the Valley" as they should. Now there is occasional strife among them but usually they live quite happily.
However, they still do not realize that they should be happy in the Valley and not elsewhere. They still do not understand their own rights. They have to be told or else the Valley might once again be invaded by Tigers, Elephants, Leopards, Cheetahs, Snakes, Crocodiles or goodness-knows-what. Then they might really be happy, out of the Valley.
Last update on 8 October 2000.