Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Cat Who Became a Samurai

The Cat Who Became a Samurai

Once upon a time, in a beautiful Garden, there lived a Cat whose fur was as dark as the night itself. His family had gone away, leaving him all alone, but he did not mind. He was happy exploring the Garden and finding something new to do every day.
The arrival of Spring had transformed the Garden into a paradise of many colours and smells, giving the Black Cat new reasons to rediscover his beautiful home. He would run all day in the lush grass and admire the multicoloured flowers that filled the Garden. At night he would nestle under the roots of a massive tree and look at the starry sky, wondering what great new adventures waited for him the next day. He led a simple, but content life. The Garden was all that he had ever known or needed, so the Black Cat could not have imagined living anywhere else.
Everything changed, though, during a fateful encounter with a Little Boy who wandered into the Garden. While unsure of one another at first, the Dusky Cat and the Little Boy soon became best Friends. They were inseparable. Each day they would meet and play in the beautiful Garden, and each day the Little Boy would bring food for his Furry Friend. The Black Cat always made sure to thank him with plenty of purrs and licks.  

“I shall name you Kuro-chan,” said the Little Boy, “for I very much love your black fur.”
“A Dragon called Cancer is chasing me, so please become my Samurai and protect me!”

The Dusky Cat was very grateful to have finally been given a name. Since his family left him, he had never received one. But Kuro-chan was perplexed as to who this Mighty Dragon was.
He had lived his entire life inside the Garden, where it was always safe and peaceful. That such a Horrible Beast would be after his precious Little Friend was inconceivable. Kuro-chan immediately felt that he had to become the Boy’s protector, his very own Samurai.
Each day he would trained long and hard, sharpening his claws on tree barks, climbing tall branches and lunging fiercely at nearby plants. Even when playing with his Little Friend, Kuro-chan was always on the look-out. He made sure that no one came to hurt the Tiny Boy. The Dragon had to go through Kuro-chan first.

“Thank you for becoming my Samurai, Kuro-chan,” said the Little Boy happily.

Kuro-chan gazed lovingly at his Tiny Master, as if to express how much of an honour it was to protect him. After all, he had taken his duty very seriously and was ready to battle any Dragon in sight.  
The Tiny Boy stroked Kuro-chan’s shiny black fur, overjoyed to have found such a loyal and loving Friend. His affection was met with a relaxing purr, telling him that everything was going to be alright. The Little Boy had nothing to fear with Kuro-chan at his side.
When the Charcoal Cat sat in his Little Master’s lap, however, he suddenly sensed that something was very wrong. It was as if a Malevolent force was emanating from within the body of the Young Boy. Kuro-chan’s senses immediately went wild, prompting him to take a battle stance. He wondered if somehow the Dragon had attacked his Tiny Master in a moment of carelessness.

“Do not worry, Kuro-chan,” the Boy calmly told the Cat who appeared very agitated.
“I have you to look after me, my Samurai.”   

As the Sun dropped lower and lower, the Little Boy smiled cheerfully at his Samurai, bidding him farewell. Kuro-chan, who was still concerned about his Tiny Master, wished to follow him, but he was prevented from doing so. The Little Boy, feeling sorry for his Furry Friend, promised vehemently that he would come the following day to play with him. The Black Cat still did not wish to be left behind, but agreed reluctantly. He went to sleep thinking of all the fun that he and his Young Master would have together. Unfortunately, that never happened. Kuro-chan waited all day long for the Young Boy to return, but he never did. Concerned about his well-being, the Inky Cat decided not to wait anymore, so he started looking for him.
Kuro-chan had never left the Garden, but as a Samurai, his priority was his Tiny Master. Venturing outside his home was a dangerous proposition indeed, but one that had to be undertaken. He quickly picked up the Boy’s scent and followed it all the way to a small secluded house. He circled the house a few times before climbing the vine that had overtaken it. Soon enough he reached a window that afforded a view of a simple bedroom littered with toys. Kuro-chan knew that this had to be his Young Master’s room. The Boy was nowhere to be seen, though. The ever-so-loyal Dark Samurai waited outside the window day after day, hoping that his Master would show up. He even went back to the Garden to see if the Little Boy was there, but to no avail. Much like his family, his Beloved Friend had disappeared. For Kuro-chan it meant that not only had he remained alone once more, but also that he had failed to protect his Master from the Awful Dragon. He had failed in his mission as a Samurai.
Kuro-chan was soon overcome with a great sadness. He no longer felt the need to play or even eat. He did not even wish to go back to the Garden, for it was a place that constantly reminded him of the Lost Friend. Having nowhere to go and looking awfully depressed, the Poor Cat curled up next to a gutter and started grieving the loss of his Friend.
With no will to live, he grew weaker and weaker by the day. Even the glowing sheen of his dusky fur had completely disappeared, but Kuro-chan did not care, not one bit. His only thoughts were of his Master, whom he missed tremendously.  
The Little Boy had entrusted him with a great mission, making Kuro-chan a very happy Cat indeed. For everything that he had received, Kuro-chan felt that he had failed in protecting his Master from the Mighty Dragon. He did not consider himself a Samurai anymore, so therefore he had no reason to go on.

“Here! Drink some milk, little kitty!” begged a gentle voice.  

A Girl wearing a school uniform and a large backpack had seen the Meak Cat and decided to bring him a saucer of milk. The Inky Cat outright refused, but that did not stop the Schoolgirl from visiting him every single day, each time with a new saucer of milk. She did this until the Sad Cat finally decided to drink the milk. So weak was he that he could not ever stand up to drink. Thankfully, the Schoolgirl was always by his side to help me. In just a few short days, Kuro-chan had all but recovered.  

“You are looking much better now,” remarked the Schoolgirl.
“If you want, I can take you to my house.”

Kuro-chan appreciated the generous offer, but he had no desire of losing another Friend. He was a Samurai no more. He thanked the Schoolgirl with a harmonious purr, got up and left.
He did not have a specific direction or a destination, though. He simply wanted to go as far away as possible from the place that he had once called home.
He had only traveled for short while when all of a sudden he heard a loud cry. Somehow a Large Mamushi Snake had crossed paths with the Kind Schoolgirl. Known for it deadly poison, the Mamushi was a creature feared by all. The sight of such a predator had left the poor Schoolgirl in utter shock. She could not even move, frozen in place as she stared blankly at the Bitter Snake.
Recognising the voice, Kuro-chan instinctively ran toward the Schoolgirl who had shown him so much care and love. He was surprised at first by the sight of the Large Snake, but he did not waver, quickly jumping between him and the Terrified Girl.

“My Hero! You came back for me!” the Schoolgirl sighed with relief upon seeing her savior.

The Fearsome Mamushi, on the other hand, was visibly irritated by the intruder. He elongated himself as to appear much bigger, but Kuro-chan was not intimidated at all. He did not wish to fight, but he desperately wanted to protect the Girl.
In a moment’s notice, the Hostile Mamushi thrust himself ferociously at his target, but the ever-so-agile Samurai Cat dodged the attack masterfully. More so, the dodge allowed Kuro-chan to get behind the Immense Snake and scratch his backside, piercing his scaly armour. This, in turn, determined the Angered Snake to launch a flurry of strikes, each one more powerful that the other. Heroically, the Inky Samurai was able to avoid them just in the nick of time. His priority, however, was the Schoolgirl’s safety. Fearing that she might get hurt in the terrible battle, Kuro-chan decided to draw the Mamushi away from her and into the Garden.
With his knowledge of the place, the Dusky Samurai quickly gained the upper hand, dealing hit after hit to his Opponent. But the Fearsome Snake was no pushover, either. His impressive size made him much slower, but this also meant that he could withstand far greater punishment.
The Mamushi stoically endured the Samurai’s attacks, waiting for the right moment to make his move. Kuro-chan, still very much inexperienced, gradually tired himself out, allowing his fearsome Opponent to take advantage of this momentary weakness. The Lightning-fast Mamushi instantly rushed toward the Tired Cat, biting into him with his poisonous fangs.
Kuro-chan felt a great pain surging through his entire body, as if unexpectedly being electrocuted. This, however, was not enough to hinder him. With a great big blow he cut the head of the Fearsome Mamushi, whose long body twisted and twitched until it lay dead.
The Dark Samurai had finally managed to defeat the Terrible Creature, but not before he himself was gravely wounded. Nevertheless, he was happy knowing that the Schoolgirl was safe, and that no one would have to fear the Great Mamushi ever again. For the very first time since he met the Little Boy, he felt proud to be called a Samurai.
Although the battle had left him in much pain, Kuro-chan still found the strength to carry himself all the way to massive tree where he had spent so many nights admiring the starry sky.
Coiled under its protective roots, he gently licked his wounds before turning his head toward the open sky. The setting Sun slowly inundated everything around him with an orange hue, making his Garden more beautiful than ever. Kuro-chan was grateful that he got to live in such a wonderful place, enjoying himself every day.
He had never known his family, so he did not miss them. His true name and purpose came only with the arrival of the Young Boy, who had shown him true happiness.
Scenes of the two of them playing kept running before his eyes, each one a pleasant and precious memory. The times that they had spent together were something truly special and unforgettable, during which an indelible bond had been formed.
Kuro-chan knew in his heart that their separation was only a temporary one, and that they would soon be reunited.
Before he closed his eyes for the final time, the Black Samurai Cat gave out a quiet meow as if to say:

“Master, I am coming!”



Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Brave Mouse and the Cowardly Fox

The Brave Mouse
and the
Cowardly Fox

Once upon a time, in the wondrous place known as the Forest, snow began to fall for three days and three nights, covering every tree and every bush with the Creator's white robe. When it had finally stopped, a mighty cold settled in, freezing everything in sight. This, however, was not enough to stop a certain White-footed Mouse from coming out of her hole to play in the snow. The Moonlight made the white powder sparkle and glow, inciting the curiosity of the tiny Mouse, who started to jump up and down joyously. New playgrounds had been created by the powerful storm, and each one had needed to be tried out by the Playful Mouse.

The Forest now seemed like a entirely new land. It felt familiar yet strange at the same time. Weighed down by the snowpack, most tree branches had bent in such a way as to create mysterious sanctuaries, which the White-footed Mouse was all too happy to explore.
All seemed quiet in the Moon basking Forest. Only the howl of the wind broke up the peace momentarily. The seemingly Tranquil Forest still offered plenty of dangers, especially for a defenseless Little Mouse. Many predators lurked high and low, waiting for the the perfect moment to strike, but the tiny Mouse was not afraid, not one bit. In fact, she could be called quite brave. She was always mindful of her natural environment, as a Good Mouse should be, but she never ran away or stayed hidden. No, she much preferred to enjoy herself, especially on a time like this. She adored the snow, so much so that she would wait all year long for Winter to come. If anyone wanted to cause her trouble, then this was certainly not the time to do so.
The White-footed Mouse was to play in the snow, and no one could change her mind.

“I love Winter, so please allow me to enjoy it,” said the brave Little Mouse as if speaking to the entire Forest.

On the other side of the Moonlit Forest, a brilliantly coloured Silver Fox was constantly peeking from his burrow, inspecting his snow covered surroundings. The Silver Fox did not like the snow at all. He much preferred to stay inside his den, away from the cold and snow. The arrival of Winter had made it very difficult on him, so much so that Spring could not have come any sooner.
You see, the Silver Fox was quite cowardly in his nature. Snow meant that he could get stuck and freeze to death. Ice meant that he could slip and fall. Wind meant that his bright ashen fur would get ruined. He was afraid of everything that Winter brought. His warm and cozy burrow was a much better choice than any fun he might have had in the snow.
On this particularly white night, however, the Silver Fox felt very agitated and anxious. It was his first time going out on a hunt.

“A Fox only becomes one after successfully completing a hunt,” his Family told him.
“You cannot just stay hidden inside your hole the entire Winter,” they continued.

Winter was already a stressful event, but a hunt, his first one at that, meant even more worries for the Cowardly Fox. He keep looking outside hoping that the snow would magically melt, but it was to no avail. Winter had come in full force, and it had no intention of leaving anytime soon.
Seeing as he had no other option, the Poor Fox took his first steps outside into the harsh cold. He could barely set his paws on the perfectly white snow, wobbling at every movement.
It was not a very good start for the Silver Fox, who even after a few considerable steps, had advanced very little. In fact, he had remained fairly close to his home.
His initial plan, which he thought to be quite safe, was to sniff around for a little bit and then quickly return to his cozy burrow, but a particular scent had drawn him further and further away to a small clearing in the woods.
There, he saw a Tiny Mouse playing in the snow without a single care in the world.
The Fox was rather surprised by the odd creature, so he moved in closer, making sure not to make a single noise. The White-footed Mouse continued to enjoy herself, blissfully unaware that a fearsome predator was stalking her. Well, as fearsome as a Cowardly Fox could ever hope to be.

“A good hunter always remains calm, and strikes only at the right moment,” his family advised him.

The Silver Fox quickly climbed one of the nearby trees, and positioned himself on a broad branch that was close to the ground. By staying perfectly still he nearly vanished from sight. His grey and brown fur made it seem as though he was a part of the tree itself. He then quickly turned his attention over to the Tiny Mouse, who never once appeared disturbed by any potential danger. Much to his surprise, she just played in the deep snow, rolling and swimming one moment, and then climbing and jumping the next. The Silver Fox  simply did not understand how anyone could enjoy Winter so much. After all, he dreaded it. Even at such an incredible sight, he knew he had to remain sharp. His goal had been set. He would capture the White-footed Mouse and bring her home.
He only hoped that he would be able to follow through, but as he drew closer and closer, he became more and more nervous.

“What if I fail?” whispered the Fox to himself.
“What if my Family will laugh at me?”   

Dark and depressing thoughts soon flooded his mind, as he was slowly succumbing to the pressure of the hunt. Nevertheless, he soon calmed himself down, thinking that he had not even dreamt of getting this far when he first left his home.
He suddenly jumped from the branch, and made a desperate dash straight for his newfound prey. Just as he was preparing to make his decisive move, however, the White-footed Mouse sensed slight trepidations in her whiskers, alerting her of an incoming danger. She evaded the Silver Fox’s fierce attack, and ran as fast as her tiny legs could carry her. The Silver Fox immediately gave chase, hoping he could catch her in a second attempt.
Both predator and prey ran throughout the Still Forest, faster and faster. It was a fight for survival, and no one was about to give up. The Fox simply wanted to prove himself in front of his family, so he could finally be treated as one of them. The Mouse just wanted to escape and be free once more. The frantic chase eventually led them to the Neighboring Lake, which was now completely frozen.
The Little Mouse had crossed the Lake before, and as such, she thought to herself that it might be a good way to lose her pursuer. The Cowardly Fox, on the other hand, had never even come close to the Lake, fearing he might drown, yet in his desire to succeed, he disregarded all signs of danger and continued to run after his prey. Little did he know that the Lake had remained just as menacing, even in its frozen state.
The Small Mouse was able to simply glide across the glass like surface, but the much Heavier and Inexperienced Fox did not fare so well. Soon enough he tripped over and fell right on his nose. Just like that the chase had ended, the White-footed Mouse becoming nothing more than a dot in the distance.
Defeated and hurt, the Silver Fox no longer cared about the hunt, or any hunt for that matter.

“I have had enough!” said the Upset Fox.
“I just want to go home, away from all of this.”

Unfortunately, it was far from over for him. By tripping and falling, several cracks had been formed along the thin sheet of ice, the weight of the Fox only serving to increase their size. Ultimately, under the heavy strain, the ice finally gave way, pulling the Silver Fox into the frozen dark water. Everything had happened so fast that he simply did not even have time to react. Once in the icy water, the Frightened Fox started beating the water with all four legs, desperately trying to keep himself afloat. He had never swum before, let alone in such waters, which made it nearly impossible to escape his deadly predicament.
Meanwhile, the White-footed Mouse had reached the other side of the Lake safely.
Wondering what had happened to her pursuer, she stopped for a moment to survey the Mighty Lake. Some distance away, she noticed that the Silver Fox had fallen into the frozen water and was hopelessly struggling to get out. It was exactly what she had hoped would happen.
There would soon be one less predator after her.
Seeing the poor Fox in such a dire situation, however, triggered something inside the tiny Mouse. Her Heart simply could not bear to see the Poor Fox die, so instead of letting him drown, she decided to do something completely unexpected.
She swiftly ran all the way to a snowy field of cattails at the edge of the Lake, picking those that had not dried off. She weaved the stems into what appeared to be a net of some sort, which the Brave Mouse then threw at the Drowning Fox. Unfortunately, he was not in view anymore.  
He had more than likely submerged under to the icy black water, but the Brave Mouse was not about to give up so easily. She grabbed one of the cattails and started drumming on it, creating a melodious buzzing sound.
Abruptly and with a great splash, the Desperate Fox emerged from the cold water. He grabbed onto the net and slowly pulled himself out of danger. The poor thing was so tired and cold that he simply fainted. The White-footed Mouse knew that she had to take him to a warm place, so she wrapped the net around the Freezing Fox, and pulled him ever-so-gently along the smooth icy surface. She then placed him inside a tree hollow, making sure to cover him lots of leaves, while drying off his wet fur with her tiny paws. The White-footed Mouse stood next to the Silver Fox all night long, trying to warm him up. Even though she had been chased all over the Forest, she did not hold a grudge. She could have easily let him drown, but she decided that the best course of action was to save him and take care of him.

“Why did I spare the life of a Fox who tried to catch me?” wondered the Little Mouse confusingly.

The White-footed Mouse continued to have doubts, but in her Tiny Heart she knew she had done the right thing. The Fox could perhaps be taught that a Small Mouse like her was not worth the trouble of putting his life in peril. Perhaps he could also be taught that a Fox and a Mouse might actually live together as Friends. Such thoughts continued to race through the mind of the white-footed Mouse, as she gazed at the Sleeping Fox. Her biggest thought and fear, though, was that he might try to catch her yet again.
The Morning Sun suddenly rushed inside the tree hollow, illuminating the silver fur of the Sleepy Fox in the most splendid of ways. This left the White-footed Mouse in pure awe. She had never seen anything more beautiful in her life. In that one moment, the Silver Fox carried all the beauty and marvel of Winter itself.
The gentle caress of the Sun prompted the Silver Fox to slowly open his eyes. He was waking up, but the Little Mouse just stood there transfixed by his beauty. She no longer cared if the Fox wanted to catch her. The Silver Fox had become as precious to her as the Winter that she loved so very much.

“What happened?” asked the Puzzled Fox.  
“You fell in the cold water trying to catch me,” replied the Mouse gradually gaining her composure.
“But I saved you and brought you here,” she continued.  

The Fox stared intently at the Small Mouse, having a very hard time understanding what had happened. He remembered running after the Little Mouse all the way to the Frozen Lake, where he tripped and cracked the ice beneath him. He remembered falling into the cold water and struggling before passing out. What he did not remember was a tiny creature, the very same whom he had chased all over the Forest, coming to his help. The fact that he was inside the tree hollow, safe and sound, proved it though. He had survived, and it was all thanks to the Little Mouse sitting in front of him.

“I am hungry,” said the Silver Fox.
“Come then, let us find some berries,” replied the White-footed Mouse.  

The obviously Tired Fox carefully got up and followed the Tiny Mouse outside the tree hollow.
In daylight, the Snowy Forest looked even more beautiful. The sunrays had made everything shine, as though a million diamonds had been been strewn all over the place.
The Fox, however, was not impressed. His silver fur radiated as brightly as the Sun itself, but for all intents and purposes, he would have rather stayed in the comfort of his own home, where it was warm and filled with all the food that he could ever need.
The Mouse, on the hand, was at home. Simply being in the Forest, in Winter time, made her very happy and excited, although seeing the Fox and his shiny silver fur made her even more so. She was also glad that the Fox had given up on trying to chase her, preferring to spend time with her instead. Maybe he still wanted to do it, but felt too tired and hungry.
Whatever the case was, the Little Mouse did not care. She had become mesmerised with his silver fur.

“Is Winter not the most beautiful thing ever?” asked the happy Little Mouse.
“Of course not! Just look at what happened to me!“ came a stern reply.

The Silver Fox explained how he did not even want to leave his sweet home, let alone go on some wild goose chase. He only did it because his Family had told him that it was the only way for him to become a Proper Fox. He admitted just how scared of Winter he was and how he had hoped to stay hidden until Spring, but he simply did not wish to disappoint his Family, who had cared for him his entire life.
Upon hearing his story, the White-footed Mouse thought carefully about what she should do. Clearly, the Silver Fox was not her enemy. He had only chased her because of the old traditions passed down in the Forest from generation to generation. It was also clear just how frightened he was of everything. He could not even walk properly on the soft white snow, while constantly looking all around him as to prevent some unknown tragedy.
Perhaps there was a way to change all of these things. A Fox and a Mouse could become more than prey and predator. Cowardness could be turned into bravery. Traditions could be changed.
And the Tiny Mouse was to make it all possible. That was what her Heart had set upon doing.

“Then there is no reason for you to chase me, is there?” concluded the White-footed Mouse.
“We should be Friends instead,” came a final declaration.

The Silver Fox looked at her curiously, not knowing what to think. True, there really was no reason for him to chase her. Equally true was that the two of them should become Friends.
The Solitary Fox had never actually had a Friend, but he liked the idea.
The White-footed Mouse had saved his life, after all. He owed her, but deep down, he also liked her. He liked that she was not afraid of anything. She could be with a predator and not be scared. She could play in the middle of the Forest and not fear for her life. He liked that very much about her. She was the complete opposite of his cowardly self.
All of a sudden, the White-footed Mouse felt her whiskers vibrating once more, causing her to come to a full stop. The Frightened Fox also came to stop, thinking that there was some sort of danger up ahead.

“Ha, there is food here!” shouted the Tiny Mouse.
“Where? There is nothing but snow!” cried the Tired and Hungry Fox.

The Little Mouse began to dig passionately in the snow until a small bush carrying tiny berries appeared. She quickly picked them and shared them with her newfound Friend, whose face had brighten at the sight. She then moved to another area and began digging there, revealing yet another bush. She continued doing that until they both filled their stomach for the day. Their great feast was soon followed by a well deserved nap. Both the White-footed Mouse and the Silver Fox lay under the roots of a large tree next to each other and fell asleep.
Curled around the Tiny yet Brave Mouse, the Cowardly Fox felt cozy and safe. He did not mind being so far away from his home. For all her bravery, the White-footed Mouse most definitely appreciated the protection of a much larger creature. She adored snugging down in his silver fur. The odd pair slept carelessly, dreaming of one another.
Much to her surprise, the White-footed Mouse woke up to discover that the Silver Fox was playing around in the snow. She knew how much he hated Winter, but she figured that snow can have such an effect. Seeing him enjoy himself like that made her want to join in on the fun. The two of them jumped and ran and rolled around in the snow until nightfall.

“I must return to my home, to my Family,” said the Fox slightly disappointed.
“Then I will follow you,” replied the Small Mouse unexpectedly.

Naturally, the Silver Fox did not wish to leave his Friend behind, but he knew that his Family would never accept the two of them. They had sent him out to hunt, not to make Friends, especially with prey, yet the White-footed Mouse still wanted to come along. She wanted to prove to his Family that it was possible for predator and prey to become the best of Friends.
Just as she had done with the Silver Fox, she wanted to show them that is was very much possible to forage for berries and other goodies around the Forest, instead of going on a hunt.
In her mind and in her heart, she was firmly convinced that the Fox’s Family would ultimately approve of the their Friendship, and maybe even change their ways.
The Cowardly Fox doubted that such a thing could ever happen, but his newly discovered love for the White-footed Mouse made him hopeful.
They set off together in the direction of the Silver Fox’s house, hoping that their unlikely Friendship would prosper.
Nocturnal creatures by design, the Silver Fox and the Small Mouse braved the harsh night wind, not knowing what would come next for them, but infinitely happy to be with one another.
After a very long walk through dangerous icicles and heavy snowpacks, the pair finally reached the Silver Fox’s burrow. His Family was standing in front of it, howling and growling in preparation of a new hunt. The Timid Fox ran up to them and bowed politely.  

“Please allow me to introduce to you my Friend.”
“How do you do?” said the White-footed Mouse.
“Ah, look, he has finally caught something,” said the Silver Fox’s Family.

Instantly, the introductions came to an end, and the White-footed Mouse saw herself surrounded by the Silver Fox’s Family. Unlike his Friend, they appeared savage and vicious.
They cared not about the gentle and polite nature of the Tiny Mouse. They only cared about the hunt. In their eyes she was nothing more than prey. All seemed lost for the Poor Mouse.
In a moment of equal bravery and foolishness, the Silver Fox rushed in and attacked his own Family, allowing his Troubled Friend to get away.
Sadly, such a careless action came at a high price. His Family immediately turned on him, biting him and and hurting him profoundly.
The White-footed Mouse ran and ran, trying to get as far as possible from them. She did not even look back, fearing they might be behind her. In-between her heavy panting, however, she started hearing cries of pain. They came in loud at first and then more and more subdued, but the Tiny Mouse still recognised the sounds. They belonged to her Friend, the Silver Fox.
He was suffering.
The White-footed Mouse, paying no attention to her own safety, turned around and sprinted toward her Friend. She was horrified to see that the Silver Fox was brutally punished by his Family for letting the prey go and attacking them.

“Why do this to your own Family?” yelled the White-footed Mouse.
“Even as my enemy, I still saved his life!”
“Why would you save the life of your enemy,” asked the Silver Fox’s Family.
“Because in my Heart I know that all who dwell in the Forest are Friends.”

Completely surprised by her unusual answer, they approached the Tiny Mouse, who was standing her ground.

“Do you truly believe that all who dwell in the Forest are meant to be Friends?”
“We are living proof of this,” said the White-footed Mouse tending to the wounds of her Beloved Friend.  

The Silver Fox’s Family was so impressed with the Tiny Mouse and her unexpected bravery that they began to see her in a completely different light. She was no longer prey. She was just like them, another dweller of the Mighty Forest. Maybe, in the end, they could all become Friends. They also reconsidered their punishment for the Silver Fox. Instead of prey, he had brought home something that was needed for a very long time ~ Change ~
They thanked the White-footed Mouse for saving one of their own, and invited her to stay with them. Soon enough the Silver Fox’s Family learnt to forage for berries, and never again did they go on a hunt. More than that, they become good Friends with everyone they met.
Throughout their adventure, the Silver Fox, who learnt to be brave, and the White-footed Mouse, who learnt to love, formed an everlasting bond that changed the traditions of old.
Together with their Family and Friends, they lived happily ever after in the place known as the Forest.

~ The End ~

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Brave Women of War

The Brave Women of War

Historically, women have always played an important role during wartime, going so far as to take command of troops and fight for their homeland when their male counterparts were unable, or simply lacked the heart to face the battle ahead.
Strong, intelligent and resourceful, women have displayed far greater bravery than men in critical moments, as history has proven time and time again.
Throughout this article, I have tried my very best to present some of the amazing women who have endured the hardships of war not as victims of it, but as victors of the human spirit.
Their actions have profoundly influenced the flow of history, and as such, they should be regarded as examples for all future generations, not just to be admired, but to be followed as well.

de.jpgOne great example is Deborah, a judge of Ancient Israel, and the only woman to hold such a high position in the land. Seeing how much her people were suffering at the hands of their enemy, Deborah called Barak, a military commander, to gather an army and form a rebellion.
When the fearing commander refused, however, Deborah took charge of the troops and marched against the opposing army of Canaan, successfully defending her land and receiving all the glory. She is often regarded as the mother of Israel.

jael.jpgDuring that same conflict, another woman by the name of Jael actually managed to kill the Canaanite general Sisera, who had fled the battlefield and was looking for a place to hide. Initially friendly, Jael managed to trick the enemy general into staying at her house before ending his life. Even in those ferocious times, simple housewives rose to the challenge and fought for their home, displaying unimaginable strength and courage.

A similar ruse was used by Blenda, a Swedish young girl who took it upon herself to safeguard the kingdom of Norway while the King and his men were away. When news of an invasion broke out, Blenda rallied all the women and came out with a plan to defend her home. Together they cooked many delicious foods and organized a great party for the men of the opposing army. Surrounded by beautiful women as well as drinks and food to their heart’s content, the invaders dropped their guard and took part in the festivities without a single care in the world. Blenda and the other women waited for the soldiers to pass out from their drunken debauchery and then killed all of them in their sleep. When the returning King heard of the bravery and cunningness displayed by Blenda and her companions, he bestowed full rights to all the women in his kingdom, allowing them to receive the same benefits as the men.

boudica.jpgAnother story of a great warrior is that of Boudica, the queen of the British Iceni tribe. Upon the death of her husband, their allies disregarded the will of the defunct King for a joint rulership alongside his surviving children, instead annexing the Iceni territories to their own Empire. The inhumane treatment of Boudica and her two daughters prompted not just the Iceni, but also their neighbours, the Trinovantes, to rise up against the unfair treatment. They chose Boudica, a woman of notable intelligence and spirit whose very name spelt out victory, as their leader to spearhead a campaign against the occupying enemy forces. Seen by many as a goddess, she signified a gleam of hope in a wicked and unfair world. 

mulan.jpgWhile Hua Mulan may have enchanted millions as a Disney princess, her greatest legacy is her filial piety. When the Emperor of China summoned all the men to battle the tribes that had invaded the country, Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man and entered the army instead of her feeble father and young brother. Trained in the art of kung fu and proficient in sword fighting, she served for twelve years, earning the respect of her comrades. Even though she had been offered a high-ranking position, Hua Mulan simply requested that she be allowed to return home so that she may care for her aging father.
Brave, loyal, caring, Hua Mulan is the paragon of all that is best in one’s heart.

Even though it is hard to write and pronounce, the Trưng sisters carry a name that has inspired an entire country to fight not just for its independence, but also for its identity. Regarded as national heroines of Vietnam, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị were born into a household that was no stranger to martial arts and warfare. Since their father was the local sheriff, the Trưng sisters learnt various military tactics and skills at a very young age, including a sense of duty and honor.
When their village was attacked by a raiding party, the two sisters defended it with great success.
Because the attacks did not stop, increasing in frequency only, the Trưng sisters assembled an army consisting mostly of women and successfully repelled the invaders that threatened the very existence of their people. Under their rulership, a new independent kingdom was created.
The Trưng sisters will forever be remembered for making a people that had given up on itself to believe in a better tomorrow.

tomoe-gozen-on-a-horse-in-the-snow.jpgWith the rise of the samurai in the late-Heian period of Japan, it was incredibly difficult for women to stand out, especially on the battlefield. Yet that is exactly what Tomoe Gozen did. A young woman whose riding and fighting skills were only matched by her gracious beauty definitely stood out in a male dominated society. In battle she was often outnumbered, facing sometimes up to one thousand soldiers, yet she always managed to emerge victorious. It is not wonder then that she had garnered the respect of both her comrades and her foes. His master, Minamoto no Yoshinaka, always kept her by her side and even placed her second-in-command. During the Genpei War, Tomoe Gozen was always the first to ride into battle, inspiring the troops before her. With new media and shows re-telling and re-imagining her adventures, the legacy of Tomoe Gozen continues to grow by the day.

Joan of Arc is a name that needs no real introduction. Not only is she a national French heroine, but she is also a Patron Saint of Bravery and Purity to whom many continue to pray. As France was on the verge of total collapse during the Hundred Years War, a humble young girl from an isolated village managed to turn the tide of war, bringing hope where there was none. That girl, later named The Maid of Orléans, was none other than Joan of Arc. Through the will of God, she went from spinning wool with her mother to being in the presence of royalty, right before taking command of the entire army of France. Her first greatest success was the liberation of Orléans, the final bastion that kept the country from being completely overrun by enemy forces. It unequivocally proved Joan of Arc’s Divine mission, gaining the support of the people who had lost all hope. For her faith and loyalty, which Joan of Arc never denounced, she suffered terribly. She was accused of everything that is evil, yet she died like a Martyr, becoming a Saint in the process.

-yaa_Asantewaa_165083671.jpgConsidered a national hero and a strong supporter of African independence from foreign rule, Yaa Asantewaa’s courage is known all over the world, as her actions continue to inspire people to this very day. Upon the death of her ruling brother, Yaa Asantewaa used her position as Queen Mother of the Ashanti Empire, part of modern-day Ghana, to nominate her grandson as his successor. The exile of the young man and most of the government body, however, left Yaa Asantewaa the sole ruler. Not willing to have her country fall into enemy hands, she summoned the remaining members of the Ashanti government and asked that they go to war. Their refusal spurred Yaa Asantewaa to call the women of her empire to take up arms instead of the cowering men. Her unparalleled bravery and subsequent sacrifice did not go in vain, though. After a brief period of occupation, the newly-formed country of Ghana was the first African nation to gain independence.

World War I stands as one of the most destructive conflicts in human history, proven by the loss of so many lives. Yet it allowed not just for tragedy to arise, but also for brave souls as well.
One such fine example is that of Ecaterina Teodoroiu, a Romanian woman who rose up and fought heroically for her country. Much like other heroines before her, she came from a humble background, as both her parents were farmers living and working in a small Romanian village.
That, however, did not prevent her from completing her studies and preparing herself to become a teacher. The start of the war saw her become a nurse, though. She did not remain one for very long, as the death of her brother and other young men like him affected her deeply. She asked to become a soldier, which was quite unusual for a woman in those times. But with the royal family’s support, who saw her as a symbol to inspire the troops, she was allowed to go to the frontline. Unhappy with being at the back of the battleline, she actively took part in the many firefights of her comrades. Using strong military tactics and even escaping capture, Ecaterina Teodoroiu proved herself to be a worthy soldier indeed. She was promoted to Second Lieutenant and even given her own platoon. Her dying words on the battlefield were: “Forward, men, don't give up, I'm still with you!"

Queen_Mary_of_Romania_2.jpgThe Great War also saw women of noble birth dedicating themselves to others. One such example is Princess Marie of Edinburgh, who acted as Queen consort of Romania. Commonly known as Marie of Romania, she exerted far more influence than even the King himself, becoming one of few royal consorts in history to wield such tremendous power. But she used all that power for good, taking care of her people, making political decisions that benefitted her country, as well as fighting for independence and world recognition. Even though her detractors tried long and hard to ruin her reputation, they could not succeed. In fact, her popularity kept increasing, and is now considered a national symbol of freedom.

Agueda Kahabagan y Iniquinto, which many refer to as Tagalog Joan of Arc, is a woman often shrouded in mystery. Little is known about her, except that she was born in Santa Cruz, the capital of the province of Laguna in the Philippines. Yet is was her unrivaled bravery on the battlefield that has placed her in the annals of history. Often seen wearing a white dress and armed with a rifle and a bolo knife, a large cutting tool of Filipino origin similar to the machete, she rode first into battle, encouraging her countrymen not to give up in their fight to defend and free their country from enemy forces. Earning the admiration of her superiors, she was the first Filipina to be given the honorary title of “Henerela”.

The Second World War proved to be even more devastating than the first one, and it stands as mankind’s worst conflict ever. Never has such destruction ever been witnessed, bringing human casualties to that of billions. But even in those dark times, the brave women of war refused to give up. Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo was one of them. After hearing about the death of her husband while leading an attack against the enemy, she joined the British Special Operations Executive to become a field agent. Both fluent in English and French as well as versed in the use of fire weapons, something that her father had taught her, she was able to pass her training and quickly rise through the ranks. It was her charming personality and incredible courage, however, that made her popular with her colleagues. Her first missions into occupied France were not without their hazard, but she always kept her nerve and successfully completed her assigned tasks. Unfortunately, due to a lack of information, she was eventually captured by enemy forces, but even then, she did not surrender so easily. Engaging in a ferocious firefight, it was not until she ran out of ammunition that she was captured. Even in captivity she served as an example for the prisoners who had lost the will to fight. Posthumously, she was awarded with the George Cross, one of the highest honors given by the United Kingdom.


We are now able to better understand what transpired during the chaotic years of World War II thanks to the tireless work of people like Elizabeth "Lee" Miller, a war correspondent who was able to convey the brutality of that conflict through her touching photographs. Disregarding the stern warnings of her family and friends to evacuate and flee to safety, she insisted on covering the events of what would become one of the greatest tragedies of all time. Traveling alongside the U.S. Army, she was able to photograph incredibly poignant moments. From the aftermath of D-Day to the liberation of Paris to the horrors of concentration camps to the children caught in the terrible conflict, Elizabeth "Lee" Miller showed the entire world that war is never the solution. We all bear the responsibility to ensure that our children will never experience such devastation.

Adored and admired by millions, Diana, Princess of Wales, was known throughout the world for her modesty, grace and charity work. When the discovery of AIDS created mass hysteria and panic, Princess Diana was one of the very first people in the world to speak about the disease. She denied the rumors that somehow the people who had contracted AIDS were dangerous; instead, comforting those who had been affected, and encouraging others to follow in her footsteps. This indeed made her a very brave woman. For her, the greatest illness of all was simply not being loved. Above all, she valued kindness and courage, exemplified by her support for The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). War is one of the worst atrocities ever, claiming numerous lives every single day. Yet even after peace has been established, the consequences of war are still prevalent. One such consequence are landmines, left behind by soldiers long gone. Even in peacetime, they represent a constant threat to the civilian population that is forced to live in fear. Through this organisation, Princess Diana’s ultimate goal was the safe removal of landmines from war-torn areas, and more importantly, a worldwide ban on these devices of killing. Her life was sadly cut short, but it is no doubt that Princess Diana has truly become a Queen in the hearts of people.

Mother Teresa is a name synonymous with everything that is godly upon this world. Better known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa gave up any sort of comfort, choosing instead to dedicate her life to the poor and sick. Upon hearing that a group of children had become trapped inside a front line hospital during the 1982 Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa intervened and requested a temporary cease-fire between the combatants. Aided by Red Cross workers, Mother Teresa disregarded all personal safety and traversed the war zone all the way to the besieged hospital. There, she was able to get the children out safely. Putting her life at risk once more, Mother Teresa embarked on a tour of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. As someone who grew up in a Communist country, I am forever thankful of her altruistic actions. Mother Teresa always put others before her, spreading the word of God even in the middle of a raging war. She is truly the Mother of those who have been abandoned by the world. On September 4th 2016, she was officially canonised.

Acting selflessly, these remarkable fine women should be best remembered for their undying spirit and their will to make a difference, proving that women are just as capable, if not more so, than any man. This list, however, represents only a tiny fraction of all the women who endure the pains of war on a daily basis. Their strength is undeniable proof that light exists even the darkest of places. Let us all do our best to support them, and more importantly, fight for a future where there is no war, only peace.