The Story – Part 2

Mishka galloped back alone to the village, where the shepherds gathered waiting to be led to the grazing grounds. The place was teeming with flocks of sheep and goats – young, lively ones amidst the slow and old sheep which by years of experience in grazing, knew well where they ought to go at this time of the year. The men paid little attention to such details; The wisest of them always felt that it was a fools job to keep in memory the places and the times where the grass would be idle for grazing. It was a tradition that had been passed down by several generations, and the shepherds did not want to break it. When the kids, new to herding, would ask them why they would deliberately not remember the places, as was quite common to kids of that age, the men often said that they did not want to trade off tradition for reason. They were proud of their traditions, and felt that it was their duty to inculcate it in their kids. Rearing sheep was in their blood, and so was following their forefathers.

The horse was first greeted by Munuu, who with two other children, was gathering pebbles. Mishka, like always, gave a snort and slowed down his pace, seeing the gathering. The men stood up, ready to go where the horse would take them. It took them many days to trust its judgement, and now they were not hesitant any more. The goats and sheep followed their masters, in an attempt to not subject them to humiliation by leading the way along with Mishka. The masters fetched them food and gave them shelter, and they would give them their wool and their milk – there was an unexpressed understanding that bound the animals to the men. The entire moving canopy looked like a swarm of white and black bees, sparsely dotted with brown. The men rode on their horses, moving in groups of two, talking about the weather and the shrubs, rather distastefully. The flat lands were vast with tall shining grass. But the men did not stop there. They followed the horse. An eagle flew above them; “Eagles fly west and sheep walk east”, said a father to his son, “and we all walk east”.

‘They are strange people’, thought Arkan, lying in the grass and staring at the distant herd of people and animals slowly approaching him, ‘the people of the west’. He had heard tales of them, folklores, which described them to be as fierce as their eagles, as exotic as their artistic motifs, and as distinct as their yurts. ‘They must be fearsome’, he thought, and longing to see them, he looked at his own men with difficulty. They let their animals aside to choose the grass of their choice, and sat down wearily. It was still morning, and Arkan scorned seeing the weighed down faces. Gently patting Mishka’s muzzle, he said, ‘The men walk towards the sunrise, but they are as hopeless as the darkness after sunset’.


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