HEADS OR TAILS?

A short story with two intensely opposite versions of a single scenario.
 

Heads

Yours truly, a spectacle

I know I am watched

By every eye of those souls stretched out in front of me

Each eye an epic in itself,

Some forming myriad expressions of wonderment beaded with fear

And some others, with mockery and an I-can-do-better sneer

I look around my performance dome… The dome is a splendor by itself… streamers, balloons, and colorful remnants of cloth

Another pair of eyes, different from the others, rest on me watchfully… I try to fathom what those eyes tell me… is that a warning, or a plead? Are they dubious, or filled with a sense of impending doom?

The frenzy of the audience soars high… the silence of anticipation is deafening…

I advance with a step… my limbs falter… I jiggle, like an airplane hit by an air pocket… I watch those leonine eyes watching me… the eyes of that lioness majestically seated on her scanty throne

I feel bare… stripped of all connections… Do these eyes see me for what I am – A hunger-stricken man, battling death every day, teetering between the hope that my opponent would not hurt me, and the fear that she would?

Ah no, for them, I am but a doll, a mere spectacle, bestowing them with a few moments of thrill for their money!

Night after night I perform

this dangerous act,

and each day I am made less human.

Here, down in the ring of the dome, where

I see awe and envy in those eyes that watch…

do I see any recognition of me?

My heart aches… but I advance again

My entire life seems centered on

this single ring

and there is no way to stop.

Music notes blind me and my head reels

I can hear claps… appreciative, encouraging

pleased… motivating

I laugh at them.

How blind, these eyes that watch me everyday without ever seeing me…

The lioness sits by herself, her eyes spewing venom at me!

I slowly coax her into opening her jaws wide… and she obeys!

My head tries to find its way into her jaws… bit by tiny bit

And then it happens!

Hearing her jaws firmly shut on my skull, I also hear a shrill scream… mine? I never knew and I never would.

Stun rents the air and I can feel myself soaring up and above the dome… finally free!


TAILS

Nobility is my name… Entertainment is my game!

I know I am not watched

The tent is teeming with souls stretched out in front of mepicture9

But no eye rests on me save those two… they belong to the love of my life…

Her eyes sparkle like black gold across the paleness of her cage bars… The sparkle a shade bit too dim after we got caught in sunderbans last year…

Her eyes remind me of my shameless act… the act that tests all my powers of patience and natural instincts…

I will put an end to this once and for all today, I decide…

I look around my performance dome… The dome spells gloom by itself… streamers blocking sun rays balloons hanging limply in the breeze-less atmosphere…

Now another pair of eyes, with fear written on its lashes watch me … I have seen these eyes every day since I got caught… “Please don’t harm me,” those eyes seem to plead… I steel myself and get ready to rip those eyes off their sockets…

The frenzy of the audience soars high… the silence of anticipation is deafening… I will teach them to fear me from today, I silently and grimly remind myself…

My adversary advances with a step… my limbs falter on my narrow perch… the stool on which I sit is narrower than my starved waist…

picture11I recall my training… This is the moment when I need to open my jaws wide… I also recall my every day struggle of going through this humiliation… I, the king and the pride of the jungle, watching tamely as a good-for-nothinger boldly places his head in my opened jaws and withdraws the head intact and I, feeling ripped off all my powers, gape from the insult…

I part my jaws and wait… The foe advances steadily, not knowing the fate I have decided for him…

His head enters mine across my leonine molars… Just when I am about to snap my jaws shut and cleave his head off his neck, I remember his 4-yr old little daughter who had joined him three days ago, owing to her holidays… I quickly steal a glance at her without turning my head…

Her face melts my resolve… her sweating and beautiful lips mouth prayers after prayers for her father’s safety… something makes me take a look again at my love… and in her eyes I see our cub we lost to a hunter’s bullet…

I summon all my control and wait till that little girl’s father moves his head away… after what seems like an eternity, he does, with a triumphant sneer on his face…

What an ungrateful wretch, I fume…

I cannot help myself looking at my only solace, my love…

“You are my hero,” her eyes tell me…

I smile inwardly…

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2 comments

  1. You should have let him be himself – live his instinct and eat his trainer! In one he is free, in the other, he let free his tormentor – nah! The Lord of the jungle is not that compassionate to his mate, is he? But then, he emulates his creator’s mind, I quite forgot! 🙂

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