Fear breeds excitement. The air was filled with excitement. Animals, large and small, were called to attend the assembly that was summoned in haste. The tails were wagging from fear, and tongues speculating on such gathering. Even birds, which were not part of such assembly, perched on the trees anxiously discussing among themselves on the events that had taken place in Kumaon. Suvaki, the eagle and king of birds was invited to the assembly, and this had sparked speculation among the birds community, sometimes the discussion took the form of heated argument that resulted in fight, the birds hitting each other with their beaks trying to establish supremacy of their argument. Squirrels were running from one tree to another carrying the news given by various birds. Thus various stories were in circulation, creating an atmosphere that was charged with excitement.
The animals on the other hand, waited silently. The tension was visible on their faces especially on the smaller ones like deer and zebras whose ears were as alert as they can be for the slightest sign of danger. Each preferred to remain in their group and stood patiently. They stood last, and in such manner that if there was any sign of danger, they could be first to flee to safety. The fighters took their place on the right side while the citizens, as the grazing animals were referred to, on the left. The order was fixed according to the power each animal wielded. The general of Kumaon, Shersinh, and the chief of tiger clan occupied the position next to the king, while Gajraj, the chief of elephants sat opposite him. The leopards and other predators sat next to Shersinh. Surprisingly the sight of their victims in front of them did not excite them, their eyes had worried look instead of hunger.
Suddenly there was a roar from Shersinh, announcing the arrival of the king. The roar was enough to scare the sounds coming from birds and animals alike. The deer’s hid their tails between their legs, ready to run as Shersinh stood on the stone, his eyes scanning the assembly. There was none. No one wanted to invite the wrath of the general who stood as if he was ready to leap on slightest hint. The birds continued to make noises, but even those fell silent when they heard the angry grunts of Shersinh.
The proud figure emerged from the mouth of the cave, Sohoma, the lion king walked slowly towards the huge stone and climbed up swiftly. His brown eyes scanned the huge gathering of animals, the citizens keeping their faces low, not daring to look him in the eye while the entire cat family acknowledged his presence with a nod. The king roared, and as he roared, the sounds of anxious hoofs were heard, the citizens ready to run. The young ones held to their parents tightly for comfort. Even some wings fluttered as the birds flew to the higher branches as a precautionary measure.
“Friends” Sohoma addressed the gathering in a firm tone. “Together, we have shared the dreams of this great kingdom, today, we are facing an unknown problem that is far greater then worrying about your safe grazing lands” his face turned to the left “or worrying about your next meal” his gaze turning to his right. “I have called you to seek your opinion on the matter that could be of importance to the interest of this great kingdom, you are free to speak, and nothing will be held against you for your unfavorable opinion, if you have any.” Sohoma stopped, allowing for the words to sink in. There was pin drop silence in the assembly.
“As a king, I have the authority to frame the legislation of any kind, but today I am just one of you, one of the community, legislations made out of power can turn right into wrong, especially if there is a threat to the peace of our kingdom, to our existence. If what I feel is true, then we are facing the great crisis that can break the very spirit of this great kingdom. We are a closely knit community, always having faith in each other regardless of social status; this faith has bound us together, and shaped this great kingdom that has withstood everything from nature’s fury to the greed of neighboring kingdoms. We have remained united in strong and weak times, if what I fear is true then the strength to survive will not come from king or general, but from every family, big and small, in this kingdom” Sohoma glanced across the assembly, satisfaction lingering over his face. Every animal, large and small, seemed eager to help their king in whichever way they could.