Stories

The Lone Wolf

The young wolf padded slowly down the path, a few meters behind his pack. The alpha male led them deep into the jungle, followed closely by his mate, then by the rest in the hierarchy. Overhead, the full moon glowed like a pearl in the sky, its pale beam of light illumining their way. A few moments later, they came to a crossroads and stopped. The road branched off in two directions. The leader bent his head low and sniffed the ground, assessing the situation. Finally, guided by a primordial sense, he took the path on the right. The rest of the pack followed, taking the path that scores of other wolf packs had taken before them.

The youngster at the back hesitated. He waited till the others had gone ahead. Then, when he was sure that they had made sufficient progress, he turned left.

He stood at the entrance of the path, which snaked into the distance. Moonlight struggled to penetrate the dense canopy of trees that grew on the sides of this trail, giving it the impression of a long, unending tunnel. Thin shafts of light that managed to come through cast the path in an eerie glow. The path felt unfamiliar, yet strangely comforting. The thought about reaching the other end of the track and making new discoveries beckoned to him.

He stood for a moment, his keen sense of hearing alert, for any sounds of danger that may be lurking in the shadows. So far, there was nothing. With a last look into the distance, he made a decision and stepped into the unknown. There was no turning back. He pushed all other thoughts away from his mind and focused on what lay ahead. He had just taken up his calling.

~*~

After days of battling hunger, pain, the various elements of nature and the temptation to give up, he finally emerged on the other side of the trail, into a clearing, wounded and half-starved but still in one piece. The journey had been hazardous and taxing. The forces of nature tested not only his physical and mental strength, but also that of his spirit. More than once, he had been on the verge of giving up. He realized then that survival without the pack was almost impossible. Throughout the journey, he was often reminded of how protected he had been in that pack, safe with his brothers and sisters. Together, they had hunted down prey and fought off predators. But he had just won a battle on his own.

He had fought with no allies. And in the end, he had survived.

A familiar howl echoed from the distance. He saw the pack, gathered at one end of the clearing. They were safe and sound. He responded with a loud triumphant howl of his own, then went and joined them again.

Suddenly, a sharp cry floated from the distance. The pack stood up, instantly alert. They pricked up their ears and listened. Then at once they came closer, facing the source of the sound. Together, they waited, ready to face the enemy.

The young wolf remembered an adage, the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack. That is how they lived and died. It was their instinct; it ran in their blood.

However, he now knew otherwise. As he stood in the front with the others, he reflected on the ordeal of the past few days. The journey had been arduous, but it had also been an enriching experience of self-discovery. His eyes had opened to various aspects of himself that would have otherwise remained buried if he hadn't ventured away from his pack.

A new realization dawned on him, and he thought, the strength of the wolf lies in knowing the difference between the strength of the wolf as the wolf, and the strength of the wolf as a pack. Yes, he had learnt. And he had learnt well.
 

 

13-Aug-2022

More by :  Karishma V.M

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