Disenchantment: a fable

“There’s a human approaching”, said the Jay, hopping excitedly from branch to branch.

Rabbit said nothing, and continued to munch on the greenery before her, as if to say “so”? After all, it was common knowledge that humans had stopped speaking some centuries ago (as their population had spiralled out of control) and now just jabbered nonsense and made strange noises.

“She’s running late, I think”, the Jay continued, more to himself, “I think maybe she wasn’t born here, she doesn’t look like the other ones, a different breed or sub-species” (for Jay had flown around this city and the neighbouring one, and from an aerial perspective, knew this to be true).

Now Rabbit stopped eating, raised her head slightly, and finally spoke; “and why would that interest me”? she said, in an affronted tone. In truth, she was a white rabbit, and was not from around here, something that she was only too often reminded of.

Consequently, she preferred to stay in the small patch of garden in which she was currently sitting. Rabbit, unlike Jay, did not believe that the world was enchanted. Perhaps humans had never really spoken, and everything their ancestors had spoken of had been a dream.

Jay tried again, “I just meant – you know – it’s something different to look at, at least”…he trailed off. Rabbit went back to eating. Rabbit was not interested in the unusual, and unlike Jay, she had no inborn desire to roam. Which was a good thing, as there were several fences which would have prevented her from doing so.

Jay and Rabbit had been friends for some time, almost since the time that Rabbit had been brought to this place (and there was sych a time, as they both remembered), but the one thing that they could not agree on was humans.

That being said, humans did check on Rabbit, and ensured that she always ate, that she was still present and in good health. Jay often inquired whether she longed to leave the garden, and this question confused Rabbit. Why leave somewhere so comfortable for a cage? When pushed on this fact, Jay would sigh, agitate, and shift his weight between his claws on the branch that he was currently perched, or sometimes even the fence itself.

The human was coming into view, and could be glimpsed through the bars of the fence. Just about in sight. An insight, from Rabbit’s angle, it seems that it is the human that is held captive, on the other side of those black iron bars. Jay can see both sides of the fence, but cannot decide which seems the preferable captivity.

The human girl passed, they decided not to speak, but stood alert. Rabbit raises her ears and waits. All creatures exchange a knowing look. Nothing is said. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Yet a new understanding passes between them, captured by that glance of reckoning. One moment, three lives, infinite possibilities. Then she was gone. “Poor thing, probably doesn’t even have another creature to bring her food”, said Rabbit, almost absent-mindedly, as the human on the other side of the fence continued to wander around what was (presumably) a very large cage.

Jay, who was at that very moment sitting on the fence, made a noise as if to interrupt, but then thought better of it, stretched his wings, and held back.

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I love animal fables, and wrote my undergraduate thesis on the politics of Aesop’s fables at the turn of the 18th century in Britain.

This post was based on a real-life encounter, whilst continuing in the same vein as this post from Hanoi, and has a similar theme to this one, from my time in India.