Not very long ago, in the foothills of Nagaland there lived a pig who knew that his ultimate destiny was to end up in the butcher’s shop, where his meat would be displayed, bargained and sold, and that made him sad. His owner was a robust and hardworking bus driver who threw banana peels at him, his favourite food. The owner’s wife was a skinny woman who hardly entertained guests. The owner had three children, two sons and a daughter, the youngest son was a monster.
Every Friday after the school, he threw his bag on the ground, stripped his clothes and only with his red shorts on, he pulled the poor pig to the muddy pit for wrestling. Pigs like mud, but not him. On the other hand, the daughter was a cute and funny, unlike her brother, she avoided mud. She tied colorful ribbons in on his tail, smeared lipstick and eyeliner and smiled with contentment. Between the wrestling and the fashion parade, he liked the later more. He rated the stupid giggles of the young girl higher than the boisterous laughter of her brother. The eldest child was his favourite, he was a gentle soul; he brought the leftover food for the pig in a large rusted tin can, poured it down on his plate which was made from a tree trunk. And while he ate, he kept looking at him with tender care till he finished the last of morsel. He was also the one who bathed him, sang for him and shared his dreams with him. But suddenly the eldest son stopped coming. It was his mother who brought his meals, the pig missed him; he kept on wondering what must have happened to his favourite little master.
Then one evening, he stepped from the back door looking pale and terribly weak. He walked straight towards the pig and whispered, ‘I’ll be leaving this world in a day or two, but I’ll not let you undergo the same feeling I am undergoing, counting one’s days on this earth is painful. Though you cannot speak to me, I can understand you, you fear the butcher shop, don’t you? So I am letting you free,’ said that he opened the sty’s door. The pig did not move, he did not know what to do, but he did not want to disappoint him by turning down the opportunity he offered. Before he took the first run, he had a good look of him; he was like the palace in the sky which many people called Heaven.
He ran and did not look back, he ran never knowing what might come, he did not know the route, but he kept on running trying to find the nearest forest. He walked for days like an aimlessly stone rolling down from the mountain to find salvation in a river. One evening, the setting sun gave him the courage to walk even in the middle of the road. He was a fool to consider himself immune from the human’s greedy diet. Just then a police jeep stopped right in front of him.
Three men in uniform shouted with joy, ‘Wow! Whiskey and pork tonight.’ Hearing that he ran, they ran along with him, basically, there were chasing him. Suddenly, it started to rain; they were more concerned about their uniform, they cursed the rain and got into the jeep. As for the pig, he took the narrow road which led to a brook. He felt cold, hungry and miserable, he took shelter in a bush and longed for the comfort he had in his owner’s home.
Then he met a wild boar. The boar was full of himself, he boasted about his survival skills, his ability to hunt and about the numerous times he escaped from the hands of the hunter. He was generous, he shared whatever he had gathered that day with the pig. Next morning, he left him alone while he went for what he said as work. The pig slept the whole day, when the night showed its face, he was worried for the host, so went in search of him. Kilometers were covered, but there was no sign of his presence.
His attention was caught by the laughter and shouts of people coming from a distance. He walked further, hide myself behind a big tall tree. The sight shook his whole existence, his new friend was killed, shaved, tied and was being roasted on a fire. Shivering he run as fast as he could to the cave.
The whole night, he could not sleep. He stayed inside the cave for three more days, neither thirsty nor hungry. On the fourth day, he summoned up his courage and walked out from the cave for some fresh air. The walk made him contemplate on many things; he wondered how his life would have been if he had not left his owner’s home, knowing that he will eventually end up in a butcher’s shop was one thing, but his life in the forest too was predictable, he could either die or would be hunted down. He stopped and said to himself, ‘If I am killed in the butcher’s shop, my death will be of no waste as my owner will get the money depending on how much I weight. My owner and his family was always kind to me especially the eldest son. He fed me good meals, gave me medicines when I was sick; took care of me. Yes, I owe them; I have to show some gratitude. But, if I live here, wandering and running, then either the hunters or people with sheer luck will find me, and even if I die and not be killed, the flies will have the benefit. The hunters, people with sheer luck and the flies had done nothing for me.
I have to go back to my owner’s home.’ He made up his mind. He took the route to his owner’s home, not even being sure where it might lead. Meanwhile, a group of school boys in uniform secretly followed him. They had catapult, one of them hit his tummy with a stick; it was so painful. The tallest boy aimed his catapult at him, he closed his eyes with the thought that his death has arrived. There was an intervention; he considered it as the ‘Holy Intervention!’ He heard someone coming and shouting at the boys, ‘What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in the school. Get back or else you all will be rusticated.’ It was the village Headmaster. The pig was left alone, this time, he was grateful to be alone.
When he reached his owner’s home, an unknown joy filled his heart; it was greater and heavier than the happiness which he felt while running away from the sty. He was hesitant, yet, with his head down walked towards the gate.
Someone’s dirty feet stopped him, looking up he saw the owner’s face glowing with delight. He bended down and said, ‘Where have you been? We missed you. You know what? If ever you return to us, my son on his death bed made me promise never to send you to the butcher’s shop. Now go to your sty.’ He gently obeyed.
Later that night, the owner flashed his torchlight on his face. His wife and the two children stood with unknown emotions written all over them. The wife came forward and uttered, ‘You are a wonderful animal, so considerate that you came back. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make Ben happy, wherever he is, we are sure he’ll be glad to see us all here.’
That minute, the pig’s only regret was his inability to converse in the language which could be understood by them. It was he who owed them. Nevertheless, he was glad; there was still room for mutual gratitude in this world.
But above all he knew, he could never repay the mercy the eldest son had shown on him.