JournalismPakistan.com September 11, 2013
I am on a flight next to a big, burly man who is spilling into my seat but he’s pleasant and en route we strike up a conversation and when it is turning into a bit of an impasse he says I will tell you a story.
I subside into an agreeable silence. Many years ago, he says, I was hunting rhino in Africa. It was a hot, windless day and the spoor was warm, I knew I was close upon it. Suddenly, from the mirage like shimmer I saw this form rise, dense and black and it was coming for me. I fired and missed. The second shot jammed. I flung my gun down. There was not a bush or a tree in sight, just ankle high grass. Nothing. The thunder of the rhino’s charge made the ground tremble just the way they say it does. I swear I could smell its hot, fetid breath on my back, its beady eyes shining with rage.
Then what happened? I say, engrossed by the narration.
I climbed a tree in the nick of time, he says.
What tree, I reply, you just told me there was no tree in sight.
Don’t you see, he says quietly, there has to be a tree, there always has to be a tree, you have to look for it, but there is always a tree, that’s just the point of my story. Find the tree.
I have kept his words with me for a long time and the other day reading a book I found them again. There always has to be a tree. Except that so many of us don’t look for it. We either get trampled or kicked by the charging rhinos and we go down for the count, surrendering to what we think is the inevitable. Think about it. Is it really inevitable or did we give in because capitulation was the relatively easier way out, a road filled with little pools of self-pity, what can I do, I had to lose out because there was no escape, circumstances were against me, the rhino was making for me, my gun wasn’t working, so he won. I hit the dust. But did you look for a tree? There was no tree. There has to be a tree. There is always a tree.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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