#13: The Sick Lion: Reloaded

It was a scorching day in an unusually hot season, with temperatures rising to insane levels. This was made worse by water cuts everywhere, as lawmakers dithered over water deals, maintenance and upgrades. It was baking hot, not unlike high summer in Abu Dhabi, and the intensity of the heat was enough to make one sweats through one’s eyeballs.

Lion just celebrated his 54th birthday and felt too tired to hunt for his dinner. Hunting was becoming more and more difficult, especially with his wobbly knees and dodgy eyesight. He was no longer in his prime, and wasn’t as fast as he was in his mid-20s. It certainly was the case of the mind is willing but the body is creaking.

“How can I look for my dinner without all that running about?” he asked himself. He sat in his throne and spent a while in deep thought, à la ‘The Thinker’.[1]

After about twenty minutes, Lion suddenly had an idea and grinned a very wicked grin.

“I know,” he said. “My dinner can come to me, instead of me running around hunting for them.”

“And here’s the clever bit: I don’t even have to call for any takeaway or special delivery food, which really means I don’t have to go through the hassle of placing a minimum order and then wait for forty five minutes. Heck, I’m so hungry I don’t even have forty five seconds! I want it all and I want it now,” said Lion, inadvertently quoting the lyrics to a hit song by Queen.[2]

He went into his den and then came out again wearing his favourite cotton pyjamas with an unusually sickly pallor. Lion also took a selfie of him being sick in bed and posted on his Instagram with somewhat melodramatic hashtags such as #NotWell and #UnderTheWeather.

The other animals felt sorry for him. They thought that a sick lion would not be so dangerous. “We must go and visit him,” they said.

Soon all the animals in the forest came to see what was wrong with Lion. After all, he was still the de facto King of the Jungle, but they were careful not to get too close to him because lions are still carnivorous predators. They knew that as long as they kept a reasonable distance, the old geezer couldn’t really catch and eat them.

On his part, Lion put a fairly conniving, I mean convincing, show. He started to limp around his digs, twitching like a harpooned sea lion. He groaned and moaned like an Italian footballer being bitten by Luis Suarez. Finally, he began to shiver and clutched his stomach, and went to bed in his den.

The animals called for an emergency meeting and formed a subcommittee – with a direct reporting line to the local council – to discuss their next steps.

“Something is obviously wrong with the old geezer,” said Hare, stating the obvious.

“I’m not so sure,” said Duck. “You know him as well as I do. He’s given to all manners of drama, and he’s probably feigning injury to get attention and blaming others of bullying him.”

“He probably deserves our attention. But what if it’s something contagious?” wondered Cow.

But clever Fox had spied on Lion and seen him grin his wicked grin. “Be extra careful,” warned Fox. “He might eat you.”

“Perhaps Fox is right. Maybe we should not visit Lion,” said Rabbit, who was the most timid of all, as he scampered away.

But Cow was very brave.[3] “You are such cowards,” she said. “Poor Lion is sick and I want to cheer him up.”

Others kept silent in utter disbelief, and they figured that if Cow wanted to become Lion’s medium rare wagyu tenderloin dinner, then he could go ahead.

So Cow went first and knocked at Lion’s den door. This, as you will find out later, was one of the worst mistakes in recorded history.

“Come in, come in!” called Lion meekly from his bed, sounding like Justin Bieber without the wonders of Auto-Tune.[4]

So Cow went in, and all the other animals kept commenting how brave Cow really was, ignoring one minor detail that she never came out. They simply assumed that Cow is keeping Lion company, although little did they know that she had become a huge pot of sup ekor, among other things.

The next day Pig said, “I will copy Cow and show that I am brave and courageous too” and he followed Cow’s footsteps into Lion’s den and into The Pork Chop Hall of Fame.

Goat went in next, to copy Pig, and proceeded to become a stunning dinner dish of sizzling lamb chops scottadito,[5] a feast so delicious that you can’t resist eating them sizzling hot, straight from the grill.

Rabbit and Duck were still afraid to go into Lion’s den but Rabbit said, “I am not really a coward. I will copy Goat and go in, but I will wait until tomorrow.”

The next day, Rabbit went into the den to copy Goat, and Duck waddled after to copy Rabbit. In the course of nest couple of weeks, a succession of animals decided to be deliberately stupid and went into the den and never seen again.

Clever Fox was watching everything from a distance, and he was curious to note that all the animals who went into the den were all hardcore Facebook users, and yet, none had since updated their status on the wall.

Fox didn’t need to be a genius to know that all the idiots had walked through the door like some kind of special delivery à la carte dinner, and Lion didn’t even have to pay any service charge or GST!

One day, Fox stood by the door and called, “How are you, Lion? It’s a grand morning, isn’t it? Are you feeling better?”

Lion was delighted to hear the voice of another visitor, and quickly got into character. “I’m feeling very poorly, actually. Why don’t you come in, my friend?” said Lion.

Lion had hoped that Fox would copy all the other animals and come in to be eaten, but Fox was too clever for that.

“Not on your nelly,” said Fox. “It’s been days now and you’re still bed-ridden like a hippopotamus suffering from malaria. I don’t think you are really sick, and I’ve seen all the animals going in, but none coming out!”

Fox went away and Lion had no dinner that day.

It was an abrupt end to this fable, and no one was really sure what the lessons were.

[1] Le Penseur, a bronze sculpture by French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), who is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture. The work shows a nude male figure sitting on a rock with his chin resting on one hand as though deep in thought (or napping – we can’t be completely sure). It is often used as an image to represent philosophy.
[2] The British rock band formed in London in 1970, not the monarch.
[3] Or stupid, depending on how you look at it.
[4] Audio processor that measures and alters pitch in vocal and instrumental music recording and performances. Originally intended to disguise or correct off-key inaccuracies – thus allowing vocal tracks to be perfectly tuned – it has now become the bitchy shorthand for ‘someone who can’t sing to save his life’.
[5] Scottadito means ‘finger blistering’ in Italian. Very apt.

#13: The Sick Lion: Reloaded

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