Short story: The Wild Chase by M. Ismail Wali Back To Main Page


Once upon a time there was a pack of jackals living in a jungle called Toong Taang. There were old jackals, male jackals, female jackals, young male jackals, young female jackals, old she-male jackals and young she-male jackals. The old jackals were used to the strategies evolved over centuries for tricking hens into their traps. Some young female jackals were not happy with the way hens, which belonged to the female gender, were played with before killing and dumping them for later use. The names of the young female jackals were Shi, Shu and Shen. Shen was the most vocal of them. One day, the old male jackals were out a-hunting. Shen began to howl at the top of her voice to hold a meeting on changes in the format of hunting hens in such a way as the gender of the female jackals might not be degraded. Shen chaired the meeting. A one-point agenda was tabled for discussion--- Change in Hunting Hens. The point was hotly debated for arriving at a unanimous conclusion. Some conformist young female jackals walked out in protest to follow the old pattern of hunting hens and not to voice any dissent. However, Shen remained adamant. Through a vociferous speech, Shen succeeded in persuading some young female jackals for supporting the agenda. Shi was a budding jackal. Shi proposed to share the thought of change with some young male jackals for making their case stronger. Shi was assigned the task of creating a dissident group of young males. Instinctively, Shi knew how to use her body and body gestures and odours during heat for making the young males happy and satisfied. Shi also knew that their young males , during heat, preferred coupling to chasing hens and cocks.

It was March and dead nature became alive again. Greenery was everywhere. Birds were chirping here and there to attract mates at the call of their instincts. Orioles, shrikes, sparrows, stonechats, chiffchaffs, and finches were busy singing before passing their genes to the next set of generations.

Some young male jackals were at the peak of the heat; hens were no more a reality for them. Their smelling nostrils were sensing the air carrying the particles of irresistible attraction. They had not eaten for days, but the sexual urge was far more stronger than hunger. Kuchi, Kicha and Kachu were lungering hard the air coming from all directions. Shi was eagerly waiting for the moment. Shi gave a treble call to Shen and Shun. She told gave a frothy lecture on how to tantalize Kuchi, Kicha and Kachu for getting their support to push their demand for change. Shi was an out-of-box thinker. Shi would challenge the way nature functioned.

Shi suggested that their tales had been made by some male-god to hide their femininity out of jealousy. The bushy tail kept their femininity hidden from the eyes of the males. Shi made a long speech on the topic before putting forward her idea of hiring a human expert for tailectomy on the pattern of labioplasty as vigorously followed by human females. The fantasy of removing their tails was so strong that Shi, Shen and Shun went asleep under wild aspens. All the three saw a same dream. In the dream, a human surgeon appeared on the scene to do his job sponsored by a non-profit organization working for the rights of human females for freedom from all constraints, whether biological or psychological. The surgeon, with a grin, cut off the tails and saved them a plastic bag to decorate his drawing room. The three female jackals woke up and were overjoyed with their tailless bodies. Shi gave a whispering howl to go in the direction where the three males were howling ceaselessly.

There was a stream flowing nearby. The stream kept on changing its course through the jungle. All the courses ran through the same forest: the text was the same, though the context, different. Every year the course changed, and an old course seemed a new course. The visual sense of the young males became active when they saw some figures running along the stream. Their instinct made them run madly toward the stream. The six young jackals met beside a boulder standing there for thousands of years. Shi struck a deal with the three males for supporting the agenda of change before letting them enjoy the well-exposed organ, unobstructed by the tail.

The heat period was over. The grand-father of Shi called for a family reunion, now fifty. The old jackal gave a lecture on the way nature had equipped them for hunting birds and fowls, and advised them not to deviate from the track for their survival. Shi clawed Kuchi to break the new idea. Kuchi said, “grand pa, the world has changed! Look at humans and their machines. They use automatic cameras to voyeur our activities throughout the year. Their females have learnt new tricks of playing the same game. Our females are still in the stone age. Now we have to admit that we have kept them suppressed and underprivileged. We have to benefit from what humans call progress and development.” The old jackal listened to all this like a wise judge. Now Shi got a chance to put forward her idea of changing the style of hunting hens. Shi said, “Hens are animals like us. The greedy humans, both males and females, keep them for eggs and meat. I empathize with them. Humans kill and skin them for making different niceties. We kill them to eat, not to boil, broil and grill them on fire. Here I propose some drastic changes in the style of hunting hens by jackals: a hen should not be killed without her consent; a hen should not be killed while enjoying the company of a cock; a hen should not be killed without howling prior to hunting her; and no hen should be killed singly.” The old jackal looked at her old mate for her response before making any comment on the proposed idea. The old female jackal growled out her throat and said, “We have become too old to change the strategies that we have from our elders. Our new generation has grown intelligent and knows what is good and what is bad for it.” The old male made a grunt before giving his expert opinion on the subject. First, look! I made friends with a vixen in my youth. She had the experience of surviving a spring trap laid by a young human female working on the life cycle of foxes. She had also the experience of stealing the hens of an old female professor teaching Aesop to young humans. The impact on eating her hens was that the vixen gave up her habit of stealing hens, but targeted wherever she saw a cock. Now it so happened that all the cocks of the area were used up, and the hens went barren with the passage of time. There were no chickens next year. The owners killed their hens one by one. My friend vixen gave birth to six puppies and she had to feed them, however, no hen was available in the area. All his puppies died of hunger, and the vixen journeyed a long distance for food. Thus she narrowly escaped, and repented of what she had done against her instincts. Humans are not wiser than we. They do things against nature only to repent when the consequences grow beyond every imaginable proportions. My experience says the stupidest beings on earth are humans. My vixen friend also told me about the Irishman called Swift whose horses were more decent than humans.

The grand reunion ended with Shi’s ironic grunt at the ideas of her great grandfather. She and her group found a carcass of a deer thrown onto land by the currents of the stream. They ate to their fill. Time passed by. The female jackals neared birthing their young ones. Shen, Shi and Shun had no idea of what role the tail played while birthing puppies. All the three gathered near a bush providing them a shelter from predators during the pangs. They were unaware of an eagle, perched on an aspen, was adjusting its wings to make a swooping flight for a kill. The absence of tails had exposed the swelling organs of the young jackals. The telescopic vision of the eagle spotted the moment made by the tiny puppy under their uterine pressure. Many eagles were hovering over the jungle to spot such moments.

The eagle perching on the aspen made its swoop, and picked up the blind little puppy before it touched the ground. Both Shi and Shun lost their babies to their whims of tampering with nature. Only Shen’s survived. A few days after birthing her baby, Shen went hunting. There were ten hens with a cock picking up grains on a wheat field freshly harvested. Shen decided to attack on the cock first. She chose a dry channel to walk through for a sudden jump on the cock. After picking up a few grains, the cock rolled his eyes up on being alerted by a shadow on the ground. Now there was a distance of ten foot between Shin and the cock. Shi was observing the area with her Jackalean sense of jumping and using her jaws to clutch the head of the hunt.

A shrike was perching on the stalk of a wild plant to catch crickets. A cricket crawled along a blade of grass, and the shrike flew down, and its flight’s shadow alerted the cock. The cock rolled up its eyes to spot any danger above. Meantime, Shi posed herself for a killing jump. The moment she jumped, a Labrador, trained to protect the poultry, ran toward Shi whose focus was on the hunt. The tail designed by nature to keep her balance in the air was not there to do its job. The imbalance made her jump imprecise. Shi landed on the spot after the cock made an abortive attempt to fly. Now there was a chase. The Labrador ran after Shi with the passion of a Romeo following a Juliet. The organ unguarded by the tail was fully exposed to the eyes of the dog. During this critical moment, the function of the tail was to divert the brain waves of the predator. Shi had no tail to divert the brain waves of the Labrador. Within its reach, the Labrador used its teeth to have a bite at the exposed flesh. The protruding flesh disappeared within seconds, though Shi made her last jump to run away from the enemy.

Shi returned to the stream where the young males were busy tearing the carcass of an eagle killed by a stray bullet. Shi licked the area for sometime before overhearing the word “vulnerability” trickling down to the mind of the old male jackal on eating a young hen owned by a human resource worker.

Dr. ismail wali chitral

The Author

Dr. Muhammad Ismail Wali is a Chitrali scholar, whose main field is English Literature. He has done his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the University of Peshawar. He has been teaching English Language and Literature in the colleges of KPK, Pakistan for more than two decades. Now he is a professor at Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar. Besides teaching and research, he has been regularly engaged in creative writing. He writes poems in English, Urdu and Khowar. The short story “The wild Chase” is his first major attempt in the field of fiction. The story is a symbolic one, but almost any reader can recognize many of its characters in our own society.
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