The terrified cries of a passing bee reached his resting ears. He didn’t stop chewing and continued to grind the grass between his teeth, which would eventually fall into his four-chambered stomach. This week alone a giddy-headed butterfly, a slow scorpion and a bunch of ants giving a group hug had been caught in his lovely, white matted hair.
It had begun growing the minute he was born from the base of his chin. Down, down, down, it plunged till it reached his hooves. It darted sidewards, looped over his back, ducked under his belly and wrapped his rump.
His beard had turned into a creeper and was climbing all over his body. It refused to stop growing and it refused to stop swaddling him. He became a giant, walking, ruminating fur trap. One day, the weight of his beard got so heavy he couldn’t move, his feet buckled under him and he fell heavily onto the earth, which refused no burden. His jaw was now in level with the growing grass. He bent his head and began to chew with the tranquility of a dimwit.
Unknown to him, he had fallen on a bewildered kiddy goat, Hircus, who was four days old. At about lunchtime, her mother missed her vicious, urgent tugging at her teat and bleated pitifully, frantically. Hircus heard her and screamed till she grew hoarse with misery, ‘Help me Ma, I am stuck in this cave of hair with no way out. Help me Ma, please.’
After a long time, when hope died and hunger asserted itself as the rightful heir of the doomed kid’s life, her nose twitched and she found she was crushed on an acreage of grass. She flopped down and nibbled a bit. Not as good as Mama’s stuff but at least it quietened the tantrum her stomach was throwing.
In this way, years passed and the beard mummified both of them without discrimination. Every time the bearded goat would eat all the grass under him, he would move an inch or two on his knees. With him, under a mountain of beard hair, Hircus would be carried to a fresh patch of green. Together, they would nibble, each one unaware of the other’s presence.
One day a terrible weight fell on Hircus, a stone cold heaviness, which began crushing her into the very centre of earth. She fought with everything alive in her and stood up after six years. It’s a small miracle her legs still remembered the mechanism.
Her hooves trembled and the white hair fell down her sides like curtains of matted string. She shook her body instinctively, aggressively to throw-off whatever was viciously holding her from above and filling her with a nameless fear.
The goat with the longest beard in the world fell down from the head of Hircus. His hair spread around him like a bed of wool, which softened his fall and made sure no bones were broken in the descent. It didn’t matter though, his breath had stopped, fractured limbs would never hurt again.
Hircus slowly adjusted to the world. She discovered there was a sky above and the beard that imprisoned her was chewable. She learnt there was sweeter grass to which she could run to and a herd of goats who taught her love, heartbreak, envy, happiness, fear and the indescribably joy of passing on your genes.
On some days, however, like when her fourth kid was kidnapped by a stalking wolf she missed the sanctuary of her hairy childhood.
Moral: Adult life makes you miss your childhood home
Hircus is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com