Sunday, December 20, 2015


The end of the year on the animal farm now managed by the silent, wily White had always been marked by fanfare. It had always held hopes of better things to come and provided an opportunity for a cleansing of deeds passed. It was a period for animals to hasten to finish their vices, swear never to do them again, and begin the process of failing in the new year.

Farm managers always increased food portions during this period. Yes, animals would binge and throw up, but what better time to indulge in excess than the end of the year, just before drawing up a list of things one would fail to do?

This time, however, White did not increase portions. There was still a shortage of drinking water and animals still had to walk and fly long distances and join long queues to quench their thirst. New rules about how much grain an animal could keep or take out of the farm were made daily and often without notice. No one knew what White was thinking or what long term plans he had for the farm.

While all of this was going on, while the silence of White became louder and louder, down in the northwest of the farm, close to the crocodile swamp, there was a loud group of bats. The bats rarely came to the centre of the farm where animals converged. First, because their way of life was very different. But also because all the other animals despised the bats. The birds swore that bats were not birds like they were and the mammals swore that they would rather die than be classed in the same animal group as the bats.

The bats called themselves flying creatures. But the birds denied this and said the flapping of wings did not qualify to make an animal a flying creature.

"Do you deny us our identity?" The leader of the bats asked the leader of the birds.

"Most certainly," the leader of the birds retorted, "you have the face and lips of a mammal, we have beaks, you hang upside down, we stand straight. You have skin and fur, we have feathers.”

"But the relevant quality is not the manner of flight, but the fact of flight. You fly. We fly.  Abi? You are flying creatures. We are flying creatures.”

The leader of the birds spat out each time the leader of the bats spoke.

The bats converged in large numbers and moved from tree to tree looking for fruits,  and food. When they did, they sometimes blocked the view of the sun or obstructed the way so that other birds and animals had to wait for them to finish moving. Everyone hated this about the bats. However when the animals moaned about this, they all forgot that they themselves caused similar obstructions when they had celebrations or when they had big intra-species meetings. Cows moved in herds during cow conventions, obstructing roads. Zebras and buffalos did the same. But they did not consider their obstructions as obnoxious as those of the bats. Because they did not consider themselves the same as bats. They did not understand what manner of creatures slept upside down and were neither birds nor mammals.

One day, a farm hand of White, Dick-Tai, was cleaning out one of the barns at the same time as the bats were flying out to feast on ripe mangoes. Dick-Tai hated his original name Dick because, growing up, every animal made fun of him. So he added Tai to the name so it would not sound like a human reproductive organ. At first he shooed some of the bats away and went into the barn but he was so irritated by the bats who would not stop to let him do his job that he went into White’s office, took out a double barrel and came back to fire randomly into the flying bats, killing hundreds of them. He had been waiting for this opportunity to stop them from always interrupting his work and he went into all the ceilings where the bats hid and blocked out all the holes that led in there. Any baby bats he found there he crushed. He took the leader of the bats and smashed him to the ground knowing that a bat, once on the floor, would find it almost impossible to fly by itself.

When White asked Dick-Tai what happened, he said that he was attacked by bats, that he was so overwhelmed by their numbers, that he had to kill them, that he had no choice.

“Even the children?”  White thought to ask, but didn’t.

And when people asked White, he said, that was a matter purely for Dick-Tai to handle. He had no business in it.

The animals, while finding the massacre of bats horrific, could not hide their excitement that finally the bats had been stopped from flying in and out of ceilings. Especially the birds who maintained that bats gave all flying creatures a bad name. That, in fact, bats were simply not flying creatures and had no place on the farm.

And Dick-Tai swept away the corpses and continued cleaning the barn like nothing had happened.

And the animals blamed the bats for interfering with the work of Dick-Tai.

And the birds said it was about time bats were halted.

And the cows who had no idea if bats were birds or flying creatures, said that if the birds said they were neither, they didn't know enough to question birds.

And the crocodiles were afraid that perhaps the surviving bats would come back to cause trouble near the swamp.

And the bats cried out as they counted their dead, saying that all they wanted to do was live separately in ceilings and fly out every so often and that Dick-Tai had just used the excuse to wipe them off the farm as some other farm owners had also tried to do with bats on their farms.

And food became harder and harder to get. And water became harder and harder to get.

And all the while, White walked around the farm, observing, hands behind his back, silent.

PS. No animals were harmed in the production of this piece of fiction, except bats, whose deaths no one cares about. And any coincidence to persons living or dead is what it is: a fucking coincidence. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I am back with the tale of the animal farm manage by the White the wily wolf. This week I want to tell you the story of a small section of the farm located not far from the centre, where White’s quarters are. A place with a huge swamp inhabited by crocodiles.

The swamp was named Dakaville after the first crocodile that moved into the swamp, Daka.

Although the crocodiles were an integral part of White’s farm, they mostly loved to hang out in Dakaville because the swamp kept them cool and was not as busy as the centre where animals converged and all pretended they were different types of animals. The new leader of the swamp, who assumed control at the same time that White took over management of the farm from Goodhead, was a small but feisty crocodile called Sir Na.  Sir Na had a reputation for being neat and orderly and kept the only water source in the centre of the farm clean and free from tadpoles, bacteria and weeds. The crocodiles trusted Sir Na because of this and had no trouble making him leader of Dakaville which was infested with frogs and harmful bacteria. The bacteria had over time seeped into the otherwise tough skin of the crocodiles, making them break out in boils that burst whenever they were touched by the sun. The boils had spread so much and were so painful that crocodiles became afraid of heading out into the sun altogether. Slowly, however, the boils were healing.

It did not help that years before, a huge fight had broken out between crocodiles that were more brown than gray and those that were more gray than brown. Slowly, a segregation had begun to happen, with the result that crocodiles chose different sides of the swamp to inhabit based on the color of their skin. The swamp became murky and filthy and everyone in the entire camp complained about how Dakaville had lost its former glory. Many of the older animals that were popular in the camp used to come drink from that swamp. In fact, there was at least one former farm manager who used to hang around the swamp, drinking and making merry with his friends and other farm owners, until, according to legend, one day he was asleep and soldier ants climbed all over him, and killed him leading to a war on the farm.

Even White, in spite of what Dakaville had become, still took strolls around the swamp, hands behind his back, staring into the murky waters, silent.

Now, there was this popular crocodile who had once been chained by a former farm manager because that manager thought he was dangerous to the farm. When that farm manager died, this popular crocodile named Hump, was released alongside all those that had been chained by that farm manager. Hump never failed to mention to any animal that cared to listen, that he had once been chained in the far end of the farm. Hump got his name from his love for camels, especially the hump. He used to spend time crushing the cartilage in the hump of dead camels, regaling young crocodiles with exaggerated tales of his time in chains.

Sir Na sat down one day after taking control of the swamp and decided that he was going to throw a party in addition to his attempts at cleaning up the swamp. However there was no love lost between Hump and Sir Na. Hump expected that being a popular, once-chained crocodile, he should have been consulted when Sir Na was taking decisions. He felt slighted that he, having spent more time in the swamp than Sir Na, in fact deserved to lead Dakaville. So when Sir Na proposed the idea of the party, Hump rallied all the baby crocodiles and took them to the general square where all types of animals regularly converged and made a speech.

“Fellow crocodile inhabitants of Dakaville and fellow animals,” he began. “Since my unchaining many years ago I have had only love for this farm in general and for Dakaville in particular. In fact, I love Dakaville more than I love camel humps. It is no wonder I am popular, more popular than Sir Na. In fact I would have been the leader of Dakaville if White, in all his wisdom as our new, white farm manager, had not asked me to let Sir Na be the leader. I respect White. However, Sir Na is irresponsible. How can a crocodile propose a party, when crocodiles are sad and dreary and only recovering from boils? Sir Na needs to be stopped.”

And many of the baby crocodiles were puzzled because it made no sense to them that a swamp that was joyless and without life, should not have a party that all crocodiles could enjoy.

“But please sir,” a baby crocodile interrupted. “Do you not think that now that this swamp is starting to get cleaned and we are slowly healing from our boils, we need this sort of party to bring crocodiles from their segregated corners to have some joy?”

But Hump was not listening. Hump was only hearing the sound of his own haughty voice, screaming and rubbing his neck where he claims he still has pains from being chained many years ago. Hump spoke and spoke until one by one the animals dispersed.

And Hump was satisfied with his own speech and pat his own head as he finished.

And all the while, White walked through the farm, hands behind his back, observing, and as always, saying nothing.

Ps. As always, no animals were harmed in the production of this story, not even haughty crocodiles. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015


For the last two weeks I have been telling you stories about the large animal farm managed by the silent wolf called White. I had wanted to move on and tell you a tale about another set of animals, but by popular demand I will tell you more.

The farm managed by the silent but wily white wolf had a committee. Now I haven’t mentioned this before, not because they are unimportant, but because the story of White was so compelling, it had to be told separately. This committee was set up by all the farm animals as a check against the powers of anyone who became farm manager. It started a long time ago when a certain farm manager was so brutal that he killed any animal that spoke critically of him. He killed so many animals that there were hardly enough animals to do any work on the farm. The surviving animals summoned the courage to sneak into his quarters one night, kill him, and take over the farm. They then swore that never again would any farm manager have unlimited powers and they set up a committee that was an assembly made up of representatives of all the different animals. That committee would veto any decision made by the farm manager and could, in extreme circumstances even remove the farm manager.

White had come to the farm under peculiar circumstances. He had promised a return to the heydays of the farm, where animals were fat with plenty and everyone around wanted to visit the farm. The committee had sworn that they too were committed to this change. That they too wanted to end the meat eating and the stealing of yams and the disappearance of chicken eggs. That they too wanted a new farm, full of vegetarians who wanted, more than all else, to protect the farm and the planet as a whole. All the animals were so carried away with the prospect of getting rid of Goodhead the former terrible farm manager, that they did not bother taking note of which animals they sent to represent them on the committee. As long as the animal said they supported the removal of Goodhead they said: Go to the committee.

As the silence of White grew louder, as the pensiveness of the farm animals got worse, as the weariness from walking long distances to look for water wore them all down, agitation spread through the farm, and animals were often huddled in groups discussing the current state of affairs. The supporters of White made excuses and read his mind, swearing on their tails that all White wanted as he strolled through the farm, silent, was to find a way of ending all the suffering. They swore he was only in meditation, soon to come up with a magical solution for everything: food would burst from the ground and all animals would miraculously enjoy the long orgasms that were once the exclusive preserve of the pigs.

The supporters of Goodhead, although afraid of being found with stolen meat or yams and sent off the farm, were wistful, and swore that the days of Goodhead were better. And all the animals in between groaned.

The committee however, had plans of their own.

The committee was made up of two groups: animals that had two legs and animals that had four. While there was occasional bickering among them, they were united when it came to their remuneration and the protection of their privileges. They never had to go on long treks for water because as members of the committee they had access to water. All they needed to do was make sure that White did not exceed the bounds of his power and authority and that laws were made to protect the animals. And as White stayed silent, they made sure that their specials rations were protected.

As the groaning grew louder, some of the animals began castigating their committee representatives for not speaking up in all of White’s silence, for not doing their jobs, for only caring about their welfare. The animals began asking their committee representatives what they were doing. And the committee members, fat and oily from all the comfort, did not like this. A certain pig called Forgod on the committee hated the way some animals pointed at his dirty snout and his filthy hooves. Forgod then proposed a law that made it illegal for farm animals to be angry at their committee representatives or call them names. Other committee members, notably a dog named Nodee, who had been very critical of Goodhead, even calling him names, fully supported this move. Nodee hated the fact that animals could just freely cast aspersions on the persons in the committee, quickly forgetting the days when, trying to get into the committee, he led other animals to protest against Goodhead. And the animals cried out in defiance and swore that they would not allow the committee whose sworn duty was protecting the animals from oppression by the farm manager, to trample on their rights. And Nodee barked like the dog that it was.

And all the while, White walked through the farm, hands behind his back, observing all that was going on, silent.

Ps. As always, no animals were harmed in the production of this story. Not even dogs that want to silence us.