The Goat

(To a feisty rabbit who sometimes think she is a Goat)

Once, there was a Goat. It was an adventurous goat. It was also a strong goat. It didn’t like to feel helpless. In fact, it hardly did. During the very rare occasions when it got seized by a sense of helplessness, it still preferred to struggle on its own. Yes, it was also a stubborn goat.

This Goat loved to hunt for new grass. One day, it chanced upon a pretty hill from a distance and was determined to go there to look for new, interesting, punchy grass. But of course, the hill which looked short from a distance was actually rather tall. 5900m tall in fact. The Goat was quite undecided when it reached the hill bottom. To go up, or not to go up? It pondered.

But then its interest was piqued and its sense of adventure aroused. So it trudged up determinedly. No, not even determinedly. It was quite relaxed and all. The terrain was steep but did not pose any problem to this rugged, fit and challenge-loving goat. It could even hum a few songs to itself. Soon, the hums turned into loud, full-blast renditions. And it did not even pant.

Its labours were rewarded with the greenest grass it’s ever seen. The grass was extremely sweet and chewy and fresh. And the delicate dew drops gave the grass a moist, crisp finish. The Goat was so focused on the grass that it did not realize that it was climbing higher and higher.

Soon, it had reached the alpine zone. Still, this did not deter the Goat. The grass got noticeably drier and more yellow but they still tasted very good. It felt like the goodness of the grass had been sealed within.

The Goat stopped singing (and eating) only when the first snow flakes fell. It was so fascinated. It had never seen snow before. It played with the snow till it was exhausted and panting hard (AMS?). Too late, it realised, that the path it had come up on, was obliterated by the snow. And it saw that the slope down was very steep.

It began to feel very very afraid. It had never climbed down a slope without Mama-goat. And Mama-goat had always warned it when Mama-goat was still around that it should always watch the ground it treaded. The Goat was feeling very very cold and it was getting dark.

“Mehhhhhh ” “Mehhhhhh.” it cried piteously in spite of itself. Would it be heard?

The gale howled and the snow pelted down on it relentlessly. Take that. And that. And that. The snow seemed to say. There’s never been a goat that’s afraid of heights or afraid of going down a steep hill. Yup. Mama-goat had always encouraged it to practice and overcome its fears but it had always found excuses.

There’s always tomorrow, it used to say. Plus there’s always Mama-goat, the dependable, fearless guide. Tears welled up and flowed down its eyes. i want to go home! I want my Ma-ma!

Soon, its goat-furs were covered with a thick layer of snow. Even its tears had become ice. And the extra weight was making its presence very felt. And the goat thought: if i don’t make it now, I’d never make it at all.

It bit its lips and stared at the challenging gradient for a long long time. Do – it might die. But don’t- it certainly would be dead. It took one step, then another. It slipped. It steadied itself. Step. Step. Step. Slipped again. Down down down it went, concentrating on the step immediately in front of it. Its legs were wobbly and its heart beating wildly. But it pressed on. In the snow. In the gale. Sliding down the slope step by step.

And it forgot the cold. The snow. All it could see and feel was the step in front. And home. Yes, home.

The gale stopped howling. The snow stopped pelting. The grass turned green again. And the goat could stop worrying about slipping on ice and bruising its delicate hoofs on the nasty rocks.

A long long time afterwards, the Goat finally reached flat ground and realised it’s reached the bottom of the hill. It felt terribly tired but relieved. And then it realised that it did not even fall a single time.

Suddenly, it felt brave and happy. It was actually a NORMAL goat, just like the rest, after all.

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