Shaheen: The Short Story

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Shaheen was the lone daughter of their parents. Since her childhood, she was fond of animals. Very often she used to go hunting with her father. She was an affectionate daughter of her father. When she reached sixteen, she lost her father in a car accident. Now she lives alone with her mother in the house. The duo hadn’t any solid income source. One day a famous circus arrived in the city. Shaheen was desirous to enjoy the circus show but her poverty and lack of money never let her to fulfill her wish. Each time she had to return back home disappointed because she didn’t possess the money to buy a ticket. One day she was looking towards the animal pictures hanging outside the circus show.

 

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The sounds of the animals inside fascinated her and she made up her mind to see the show. People in the queue were getting the tickets and entering the pandal. Shaheen was also in the queue. She tried to enter without buying the ticket but suddenly a strange voice echoed in her ears. Oh girl ! Where is your ticket ? I don’t have any tickets. Shaheen replied innocently. An adult man was also standing nearby and watching the whole episode. Coming near to her, he said ” My name is Dara. I am the master of lions. Why did the ticket checker get hold of your hand ? Shaheen replied innocently ” Uncle.. I love animals but I didn’t have the money to buy a ticket, that is why……..
Dara took her in his arms and said ” Baby stop a while. I was happy to see your desire. Like me you are also fond of animals. I have been loving animals since my childhood. Don’t worry, I will manage a ticket for you”. He got a ticket for her and told…. Come , I will take you to my friends. Dara took Shaheen near the cage of lions. He talked to them lovingly. Lions too answered him in their own language. When Shaheen looked towards the lions with full enthusiasm, Dara asked her ” would you like to become the master of these lions ? Shaheen replied…yes yes. Do you have the vit, love, wisdom and trust required to tame these wild animals ? Shaheen replied…… Uncle you have talked about what is in my heart. Yes I am fully ready to learn this art of handling and taming wild animals. Hearing this Dara asked Shaheen to bring her guardian to the venue the next day.

Shaheen brought her mother the next day and the duo met Dara. She was asked to sign a document. Dara took Shaheen near the cage of lions and said….. as per daily routine, a rehearsal is being held today. Are you ready ? Yes I am ready….. replied Shaheen. Dara took her to the dressing room and said ” take these clothes, wear them and then come out soon “. Shaheen immediately changed the clothes and came out. Dara taught her how to go near the animals and how to behave with them. Dara …. Baby ! Before approaching the lions, remember….. Every lion will gaze at you, if he comes to know that you are frightened or you are talking to the lion but looking towards something else then he will soon attack you. Secondly you must be aware whether the lion is happy with you or not. After telling these things to Shaheen, Dara somehow managed to get the door of captivity opened. Along with Shaheen he went inside. When the door was opened, all the five lions went rushing to their own places. Firstly he went near the Moti. Moti was happy and Dara taught Shaheen how the lion expresses his happiness. He asked her to put the hand over his forehead. Then Dara took Shaheen to Hira , Jawahar and Raja. All the four lions accepted her friendship but the fifth lion Rani tried to attack Shaheen because she was less attentive towards Rani. Dara hurriedly directed Rani to go back to her place. Rani went back and the danger was avoided. Dara looked towards Shaheen but there were no signs of any kind of fear. Observing her bravery, Dara said ” If God wishes, within a month’s time you would be the master of lions and would handle the show yourself. Dara’s prediction proved right when she became the master of lions a month later. Now Rani was Shaheen’s best friend. Once Raja tried to attack Shaheen, Rani defended her by retaliating against Raja and rescued Shaheen. On the first day of the month, Dara gave her two bundles of ten rupees notes and said ” Everyone is happy with your work. Once each day you go to the brink of death. This amount is very less but shortly your wages would be enhanced “.

Tears rolled down through the eyes of her mother…… Daughter ! You have chosen a very dangerous job. Every day and every night , I pray for your safety and protection. Assuring her Shaheen replies back to her mother ” Mom ….. Don’t worry, indeed I have chosen a very difficult job and each day I go to the brink of death and spend hours in the shade of death. But remember Mom, these shades of death are not as fearful and dangerous as the shades of humans. These wild animals and beasts are more loyal and generous than humans. Surely they frighten us sometimes through their voices but they never launch an attack secretly nor they harm anyone for their own benefits like we humans do.

Rayees Ahmad Kumar is a regular columnist of Good Morning Kashmir. He can be reached at rayeeskumar31@gmail.com

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