Excerpt for Crossroads by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Long long ago in the Kutumba forest lived many animals. They lead a very happy life where every animal contributed to the forest in some way.

But one day something changed. Man came into the equation. The balance was disturbed. Animals were hunted less for food and more for sport. The trees were cut more than they were planted.

The happy inhabitants of the forest were forced to retreat deep into the woods leading to crowding. With the increasing population density there was an increasing demand for essential services.

For the first time the Kutumbis are on a verge of facing acute water scarcity as the Cola companies of the Man world were digging into their water holes and usurping their water.

Health and hygiene became a concern. The Lion was worried. Was this to happen during his reign? He was at a loss because not just his kingdom but others too were suffering and there was no solution in sight.

Could he call upon The king of Man forest and tell them to vacate their lands? Would they listen?

Could he attack them? He and his carnivorous mates could just eat them up! But man with that long elephant trunk like thing that could kill or maim any animal in an instant would have an upper hand. More over he had to consider all those cubs and calves and other poor animals.

What could be done? Years went by...summer after summer the kutumba forest was balding. Then Something again changed people did not frequent the forests as they earlier did.

One morning as he walked aimlessly he reached a spot where he saw some men doing something. They were digging up the earth and putting some long rock there and closing it again. Between the woods and the long rocks was a another hole dug up.

He hid behind some trees and watched them working as they had that elephant trunk thing the lion didn't want to go any closer. Just then a baby elephant came that way. Before the lion could roar to warn the calf it fell into the big hole that Man had made. The King was ready to attack the men to save the calf but was surprised to see that the men were rescuing the calf. Confused at what was happening, the lion returned to his hiding.

Were they helpers or harmers? Was Man friend or foe?

Since men atop a moving animal which they called 'jeep' started caring for animals that were injured the Lion started considering them as friends. Now men didn't come looking for tusks or deer skin. The water problem too was taken care of.

One morning when the sun was still behind the mountains the lion walked towards the 'fence' he picked it up when he observed them previously. There he saw a fox caught in the fence - probably dead. He walked along the fence. By the the sun was up in the sky he saw a few more dead animals.

The lion saw the owl hooting atop a tree and wondered that bird saw with his wise eyes. The snake appeared out of nowhere with the news the Lion was not sure he wanted to hear. The Snake confirmed what the Lion suspected all along. The fence was to keep the animals locked in. The kutumba forest which once stretched from the mountains to the sea was more restricted to a few mountains.

The Owl spoke finally. Man although weaker than us individually is stronger as a herd. We cannot fight them. We would be unevenly matched. Why lead the animals to their Early death?

The lion thought about what the owl had said. He stood at crossroads. What was earlier was not there now. Should he fight for what was his or accept what is there now?

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