Glimpse the Unthinkable
On a high ride back home
I never knew who my parents were. Nobody ever told me. I don’t think they tell the infants who their parents are. At least I haven’t found out yet.
I lived in a small troop that lives in the treetops of the Laughing Forest. We get the best of both worlds, sunshine when we want it as well as shade when we want that too! Most of my childhood I spent swinging from tree to tree getting used to my growing body and learning from the elders in the troop. I especially liked learning from Grand Shaman Rafiki.
He would tell us stories of how he lived with the other animals of the forest and watched over the Laughing Forest. He tells us of the time when every animal was treated as equals. Where every animal in the forest had a say in how the Forest was ruled. Back then Vanaras like myself could live on the ground with all the other animals.
Things have changed since then. Now we must live up in the trees. For the longest time, I never understood why we had to live up here, until about a year ago, when grand shaman Rafiki sent me on an errand for him. I was sent down to find a specific herb, Ammella, that grows deep within the Forest. He said that if I found it for him, “everything would become clear”. I remember looking at him with the most pensive expression. Dismissing the cryptic message, I slowly made my way down to the forest floor.I searched for hours and finally found a dark red flower with black tips hiding underneath an overturned tree. As I was kneeling over picking the leaves from this flower. A blue parrot with green crown feathers landed on the overturned tree and cawed at me.
“Errrmm…. Hello bird.” No response. For a few seconds, I just stared at the bird, herb in hand. It just stared back at me. Kind of awkward moment really. Then it flew off behind me. I turned around to see it fly away just in time to see a black blur jump down from a nearby tree.
Crack! I nearly dodged out the way. The large black panther dug its maw into the hollow tree behind me. It glared up at me with its yellow glowing eyes. It’s darkness impeding on me. I knew death was upon me. I quickly stuffed the herb into my pouch and made a run for it.
I swung from tree to tree trying to lose the beast. However, I could not escape. The parrot. I saw it in the distance staring at me. I had no time to think and got to it as fast as I could. Jumping from tree to tree, swinging from every branch.
I arrived at a clearing in the forest with a cliff face staring at me. Cornered. I turned around. There it was. Those glowing yellow eyes.
“Running only excited me more.” Growled the panther. “If only more of your kind came down to play….we could finally kill your kind off and have this forest all to ourselves.”
“What are you talking about? There are many other creatures in this forest.” I said as bravely as I could muster.
“There are none who could oppose the true masters of the Laughing Forest. You monkeys are the only real troublemakers left. Maybe I should just kill you and leave your dead body at the base of your precious homes as a message to the others.” Slowly the panther walked out from behind the bushes. But he did not walk on all fours. He was standing, with arms, and hands. He still had the head of a panther, but everything else had changed.
As he approached I noticed the creatures’ ear twitch. He stood up straight. Looked around. And darted off into the forest. I collapsed against the cliff-face out of exhaustion and fear. A few moments later I heard chanting coming from the forest. Another moment after that I saw Rafiki emerge from the forest with a familiar blue parrot perched on his staff.
“Pokemp, a little birdy told me you were in danger. He guided me to you.” Said the Grand Shaman.
“This panther thing that walks like us just attacked me. He did not seem to want to kill me for need, but for the simple pleasure of doing so.” I explained.
“Ahh. You were visited by death my son. There is much I must explain. Come. We will meet the spirits together. And you will learn of the past.”
We went back to the Grand Shaman’s hut. He closed the door, shut the windows, and began lighting the fire in the middle of the room. He then mashed up the herbs that I collected and got out his pipe.
“What you are about to see has always been. And always will be. You will see the spirits that hold together the world and begin to learn from them. In learning from them, you will learn who you truly are and what has happened in the past.” He handed me his ornate red long pipe and motioned for me to try it.
As I sat there, inhaling the smoke, I began to see things that I have never seen before. I could see the spirits of the jungle. Around each creature, I could see a haze of varying colors. Sometimes I could hear creatures talking to me that were not there. They told me of the history of the Laughing Forest.
They told me how the Rakshasa came into the jungle and killed all other intelligent creatures. Only Rafiki was strong enough to protect the Vanaras from these vile creatures. He summoned the strength of the forest spirits to bolster the Vanaras to fight off the Rakshasa and repel their attacks. I was eager to learn more but eventually I succumbed to sleep.
“You lasted longer than most would. I knew I made the right choice in you.” Smiled Rafiki. “I am getting old Pokemp. I need someone to replace me eventually. You have never gotten along with your peers, frankly it is because you are quite awkward. But I knew there was something special about you. And I am choosing you to become my successor.”
And so, it was. I became his mentee. He spent months teaching me about the forest and all its spirits. I learned how to move through the forest unhindered and honed my expertise helping all manner of forest creatures at the request of Rafiki.
One day as I was coming home from helping a hippopotamus get unstuck when I saw Rafiki talking to a human equipped for adventuring.
“I have another task for you, young Pokemp…”