The Goatherd

ImageThe character–.

Abu khan miyan,

And his herd of mountain sheep. They live on the slopes of Kashmir, the paradise on earth.

When they say Paradise is lost, it is so true, no longer is joy, or Sufism in the air. The fabric of monotheism be it Shaivaite or Islam, the valley has forgotten it all. The only overlord now is fear. And who better than Abu Khan to personify it.

Abu Khan is all of eighty years, accession of Kashmir, were all tales of his childhood. Distant and something to be shared over a kawah, in mild winter. Until Kashmir became the bone of contention for world players. Even that was something that Abu khanmiyan, did not know.

To him all that lingered was fear, and insecurity.

Lanky Abu Khanmiyan, had a typical Kashmiri weather-beaten look, fair-skinned. A god fearing man did his namaaz and tended to his sheep. When it was time, he would shear the sheep for their wool, that made the best kashmiri  shawls

The sheep were his family. Each day let them out to graze and brought them back at sundown. The goat seems to talk to him with their eyes.

“Abu miyan, you and your sheep seem to have a family pattern of beard” was what the villagers commonly told him.

To this peaceful world came the wolf, like all Kashmiri, parents Abu khanmiyan, and was scared to send his herd. For the fear that the wolf would hunt them out. He began tethering the kids.

Each night one sheep would escape only to be killed by wolf.

Abu Khanmiya could only mourn the loss of his kid. The other shepherds, talked of fencing the herd, or trapping the wolf, but Abu Khan’s grief was too much.

As he cradled the kawah in his hand, he heard his last ewe-lamb Chandini call out to him,

Yes dear,”

“I want to graze abbu miyan”

“But you have enough grass here my child,”

“abbu miyan, these are not fresh”

“I will get you fresh ones in a minute,”

“No, abbu, I want to graze and choose the grass that I like,”

“But my child I can’t leave you out,”

“Why abbu?”

“The wolf, my child, it will kill.”

“abbu miyan, I am dead without my freedom, at least let me graze, if the wolf does kill me I can go with my head held high.”

After three days of this conversation, seeing a listless chandini, tore abu khanmiyan heart, finally on the fourth day, he let chandini out.

Chandini skipped through the mountain range, grazing her heart’s content. Until the shadow of the wolf fell on her, she lowered head, to strike him with her horns. The wolf and the goat, sparing suddenly it was as if Chandini made her mind up to surrender, just as the wolf pounced on her she pierced him with her horns, and the wolf’s  howl rang through the valley.

When Abu khanmiyan, found chandini, she was dying, but triumphant, beside her was the wolf with his stomach ripped.harpar collins

Abu khanmiyan, brought his lamb back home, a sacrifice he realized sometimes is a must. He was glad he gave her the choice to go with dignity.

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