No Reservations



Once there was a forest, lush and green,

With streams and plenitude and a king and a queen;

Until the day, the rains failed and it was hit by a drought,

And the life started dying and no new would sprout.


The king came up with an idea witty,

A plan to form a government committee;

To dig wells all over the land,

Reach deep into the core and harvest water by hand.


A grand scheme that would solve a lot of difficulties,

Fix the water scarcity and bring in job opportunities;

For they needed an animal in every acre,

Engineers, priests, scouts and labour.


At first the government showed responsibility,

Hiring animals on their merit and capability;

But then some members took an opposing stand,

And insisted, that the weaker animals be represented in the big band.


“But what if they are not trained or suitable for the job,”

Asked the wise tortoise, almost with a sob.

“Hush you fool,” said the king’s minister,

“Don’t utter such words sinister.”

“The king goes for polls next year,

 And everyone’s support, he holds dear.”


So the deer and the hares and the birds got their reserved places,

But soon everyone joined in their separate races;

All the animals wanted a bite of the pie,

And to get those jobs, they were ready to rage and cry;

Even the leopards and the tigers started fighting,

Burning the forest, biting and inciting.


In the end, each post in every job was reserved,

And no able animal, got what they deserved;

All those employed, didn’t know anything anyhow,

But nobody said a word, nor raised an eyebrow;

No well was dug, and no water came,

While the committee played, the game of blame and shame.


The plants and the animals started dying of thirst,

To find shelter in neighbouring lands, the others dispersed;

At wits end, and to embarrassment overcome,

The king came up with a quick-fix dumb;

Where wells were to be dug, statues were installed,

Of the Rain God and the River Goddess and millions sprawled.


Still there was no water and no rain,

Just a land laid to waste, and anger and pain;

Slowly, the life started ebbing away,

And that which was left, could not stand or burrow or prey;

As grass turned to sand,

A pack of wolves from a foreign land;

Raided the kingdom a few weeks later,

Snuck in by a begrudging traitor;

Killing and devouring everything in their way.

And thus died the forest on the doomsday.


This Panchatantra tale may be preachy and judgemental,

But resemblance to events, current, past or future, is intentionally coincidental;

Hoping, in this mayhem and confusion,

Someday we may find hope and reason;

End the hate and kick the reservation,

And let equality be our home’s foundation.


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