Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year

Even if you are not Chinese.

See, the way I see it is, you've got to wish other people a Happy New Year on the following occassions: 1) 1st January 2) Chinese New Year 3) Onam 4) Baisakhi/Tamil New Year/Gudi Padwa and 5) one other random day in the year to signify one's understanding that every day is a bright new day which also coincidentally happens to be the beginning of the rest of one's life. This is so that one can sink into characteristic moroseness for the rest of the year, having done one's duty with stoicism and selflessness.

So, to all Pigs and other animals, in celebration...

...a story!


In one of the lesser-known legends, it once happened that the animals of the Chinese Zodiac had had enough of the adjectival abuse they were subject to. Snake was particularly bitter about being referred to as Treacherous Snake.

Dragon’s protest was a matter of form because there was something grand about being addressed as Fire-breathing Dragon.

Black Sheep, Greedy Pig, Mangy Dog and Snivelly Rat (along with Treacherous Snake) were the leaders, though there was no one to whom they could complain. Dark Horse and Mighty Ox were aristocratically aloof which annoyed the others.

Animals like Rabbit didn’t have any adjectives they wanted to lose. In fact, they’d have gladly exchanged their anonymity for notoriety.

That New Year, the animals decided to go to an old woman who, naturally, lived in a cave on an island in the middle of a misty lake way up North. After many arduous adventures they arrived at last at the old woman’s door—if a cave can be said to have a door.

The woman, annoyed at having been woken up, came out brandishing a lethal weapon unknown to man or beast, which she instantly flung at them. The Animals retreated, cowering. When they turned around, the woman had gone.

But their burdensome adjectives, golden, red and emerald, lay like prize pelts and the Animals slowly came back and started picking them up.

That is how Dark Horse became Black Horse, and Greedy Pig was now Fire-breathing Pig. Snivelly and Treacherous exchanged titles, and Rabbit became Mighty. No one was really happy, of course, except perhaps Horse, who, though he missed the mystery of being a Dark Horse, was quite content with being a neutral Black.

(this was written for the Kala Ghoda thingy last year).

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