The Final Man

Vast barren peaks brought magnificence to the arid landscape. A stream still flowed somewhere close, but nature's patience had carved out a different path for it; a path no longer visible, even from this height. The Parrot flew over this landscape, assimilating its grandeur. It was spring but winter's remnants could still be seen on the peaks. The Parrot had never flown at this height, he had never seen nature stretching its arms so freely. 

As the Parrot flew over the snow capped mountains he noticed a strange set of peaks; lower than the rest, not even a hint of vegetation on them. As he flew closer to the peaks he noticed a crevice. On closer inspection the crevice turned out to be an opening to a cave. The Parrot hadn't seen a cave earlier, elders told stories about them, he knew he should stay away from them. But then he hadn't flown at this height either. The wind made it tough to stay in balance, but the view from this height more than compensated for the effort. It was this point of view that made him a special Parrot. 

As he entered the cave, the parrot thinks, are all the caves so dark?He flies carefully, avoiding the stalactites. As he ventures deep he notices that the cave isn’t as dark as it seemed.He sensed a faint luminescence, though the endless passages made it difficult to trace the source of the light. The parrot reminded himself that he’s not here to search for a way out, but to find what lies beneath.

As he approached the passage, the parrot notices an animal that at first looks like a dog.It is a strange dog, it is wearing an Alligator’s mask. 
The parrot asks the Dog, “ Hey Dog, what are you doing?”
“I am not a Dog, I am an alligator”; replied the dog. 
“You are not an alligator, I can see that you are a dog. But why are you wearing the Alligator’s mask?”
The Dog thought for a moment then spoke strongly.
“That is because I want to live like an alligator. I need to know how they survive. They are the masters of independent survival. They are my heroes, I am dependent on my pack or what’s even worse - Man.”
“Do you think that wearing this mask will help you become an Alligator?”
“I don't know that yet but i must try. I am trying hard, and I am sure if I try with sincere dedication i will become an Alligator. If you can't offer encouragement or support, move on ”

The Parrot is surprised at Dog’s strange quest. At first he thinks, is the dog serious? He definitely sounded serious. He decides to move on, he could neither encourage nor support the Dog in a failed cause. Out of courtesy, he wishes the dog , Good luck and flies off.

As he flies deeper in the cave, the Parrot hears a bizarre sound. He follows the sound and is startled to see an odd creature. The creature has the body of an Alligator but the head of an elephant. It’s the most ferocious animal  the Parrot has ever seen. As he ventures closer to the creature, the elephant’s mask becomes even more prominent. It is huge, the Alligator is under tremendous burden and is finding it difficult to move. 
The Parrot notices that the Alligator is searching for something. He flies closer to the Alligator and asks “ Hello how are you? what are you doing?”
The Alligator looks up to the Parrot, the elephant’s mask wobbles as it looks up. “Don't you see Parrot, i am trying to find my way out”
“Way out! From where?”
“Out of the cave of course”
“But it's right in front of you! Can’t you see it?”
“I can but i am unable to walk straight”
“Of course you can't, it’s because of that idiotic mask.”
“Mask! What Mask?”
“The elephant mask that you are wearing.”
“It’s not a mask , i am an elephant.”
“Oh but you are not” said the Parrot with a chuckle.”You are an alligator, you look like one and even sound like one. So why are you pretending to be an Elephant?”
“I am wearing it because I want to become an Elephant; strong, intelligent & huge. An Alligator’s life is tough, it's a fight each day. We are alone, Elephant’s always move in groups, they care for each other.” Replied the Alligator sincerely.

““But you are an Alligator. You are already strong, intelligent & huge, not as big or strong as the elephant but stronger, bigger and sharper than most of us. From what i have heard about you ,you are a survivor.”
“But not like an Elephant. If I were an Elephant I would’ve been better. Now that I look like one, I only have to act like one and soon I will be one.”
The parrot was confused. He couldn't understand what the alligator meant by becoming like an elephant. He could sense that the alligator was agitated. He would ask one final question and move on.
“Hey Alligator. You think you are an elephant here in the cave and as you said in order to become one you need to act like one. You can do that only when you are out of this cave; how do you think you will do that if you have that huge mask on you. Let me try to help you out of that mask & show you some reason.”

The Alligator attacked the Parrot, barely missing him. The Parrot flew over the corner into the darkness of the strange cave and tries not to look back. He could still hear the Alligator grumbling & scratching the cave in anger & frustration. 

The Parrot flies a distance and decides to rest once he is sure that the Alligator can’t reach him. It was a strange cave, filled with even stranger creatures. None of them is happy with what they are, they want to be someone else. 

The Parrot was even more curious now. He was both scared & excited to know whom he would meet next.He could see a faint light shining from a distance. He had already ventured quiet deep into the cave, he decides to follow the light. As he reached closer, he saw that it was actually an exit from the cave. All the passages converged here. Maybe the Alligator meant this opening. He flew out of the opening and found himself inside another cave. This was a more open cave, illuminated by the sunlight falling in from a narrow slit above. It stood behind a huge waterfall towards the left - the droplets splashed inside the cave.
Suddenly the parrot noticed a movement right opposite the waterfall. It was a man. The parrot moved closer, men didn't scare him. He flew over to the man. The man was naked. Parrot had never seen a naked man. Men always cover themselves. Even those who live in the wild, wear some form of clothing. This man was completely naked. He was clean, strong, and sitting quietly. A strange peace & warmth surrounded this man. He flashed a welcome smile at the Parrot. 

The Parrot flew closer to this strange man and asked 

“Hello, How are you? What are you doing?”
“ Hello Parrot, I am well and I am talking to you.” The man replied with a smile.
“Strange, why aren't you wearing any clothes”
“Do i need to? Do you want me to? Its quite warm in here. I am comfortable. When i am not, i will wear them.”
“I ask this because seeing a naked man is as surprising as seeing a masked animal. Its just that i am coming from the dark cave below.I met some strange creatures there. A Dog in an alligator’s mask, an alligator wearing an elephant’s mask. I was hoping to see an elephant next.”
“Ohh yes, He was down there as well. He is gone now.”
“Where? Why?”

“He has gone to the jungle, to live with his family. Why, because that's where he belongs.”

“How do you know this? Did you talk to him?”
“Yes of course, we have been talking a lot. He was in the cave for a long time. I think he finally realized that he was trapped. But the opening was too small for him to come out on his own. I had to struggle really hard to take him out.”
"Was he wearing a mask as well, like others?”
“Yes he was. Not anymore.”
“What was his mask?”
“He wanted to become a MAN. Intelligent, swift, curious. When we started talking and I told him the truth about the Man, he no longer wanted to be one. He realized he was who he was & that was enough.”
“Doesn’t he have any aspirations anymore?”
“I hope so, he wants to become a better elephant I guess.” Said the man with a giggle.

“What about you Sir? Not that I notice any, but are you wearing a mask as well?”

The man smiled, “No masks for me Parrot. I’ve already worn all of them.”

*the concept of this story was created by my friend Kesari Sharma last weekend.*


Unknown said…
That is so true. Well written :)
Unknown said…
Read it for the second time.. short, simple and beautifully expressed.
Sudhanshu Mehta said…
The art of telling stories can be learnt here. Thank you for inspiring us..

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