‘Birdies and gentle-animals – we have bad news’, the sly Fox paused dramatically. ‘Last night, the Buffaloes tried to break into the barn! When they failed, on the barn-wall they wrote Buffaloes are the original bovines – and then wantonly grazed & trampled on our farm …’
‘Silence! Silence! Silence’, Old Cow was so agitated she almost mooed in public. ‘Firstly, our beloved residence must never be called a farm again – a farm is man’s prison for us. This is now a … s-a-n-c-t-u-a-r-y’, she ended almost in a whisper.
The Guard-Dogs poked and prodded the sheep, who began clapping uncertainly till every bird and animal joined them and the barn erupted in applause. Sanctuary! What a marvelous word! Some tried to find out what it meant – but no one knew. It must be good, they concluded.
‘We, Cows, control this sanctuary – on your behalf of course – and we still have enough grass and grains to feed all of us’.
‘Grain? Grass? What about meat …meat, meat?’ growled a scrappy dog. He was immediately seized by the elite Guard-Dogs and quietly dragged out of the barn. He was never seen again.
‘We have enough’, Old Cow restarted, ‘enough – but it cannot sustain the Buffaloes too. If we are to live – we must drive out the Buffaloes’.
‘Drive them out, drive them out’, Guard-Dogs chanted.
‘Sanctuary!’ the Goose blurted out out of context and waited for applause.
‘My friends’, Old Cow continued, ‘don’t forget when we, Cows, overthrew the human owner of this far…err sanctuary …’ the animals began to stomp their hooves at the word sanctuary, ‘the Goats sided with the Humans. They horned my ancestors and defecated everywhere. So, the goats got to go.’
‘Goats got to go, goats got to go’ the room chanted.
To the dismay of the Fox, the wise Owl finally opened his eyes, yawned and drawled ‘what have the birdies to say?’
The Swan shot up, batted her eyelids and announced, ‘firstly, we will not be addressed as birdies – its degrading!
The Goose also raised her hand, ‘no one clapped when I said sanctuary. This is gander discrimination – or do the cows say it better?’
Old Cow and other cows began itching to moo against this tirade and to set the Dogs on them.
‘Also’, the Swan was now enjoying the attention, ‘you said Cows overthrew the vile human …but I’ve heard from mom that many animals were killed or injured in the takeover …’
‘Yes, yes – in the takeover. Not eaten by wild-dogs, ha ha ha …because …because that would be ridiculous!’ the Fox interjected in an unusually shrill voice.
The birds went on, ‘Buffaloes and Goats let us peck for bugs – why can’t we share the far…err sam-twary with them?’
Old Cow stood straight. Her magnificent eyes sparkled and mesmerized the audience.
‘I’, she enunciated, ‘have inherited this invisible amulet’, she joined two hooves, as if to hold something up, ‘which kept us safe from the human. Not other animals – the amulet overthrew the Humans. It protects us even now – which is why the Buffaloes couldn’t break in here last night. Even Humans can’t enter here anymore – not with my magic amulet’.
‘Amulet! Amulet!’ chants started breaking into applause – but the Guard-Dogs shushed them.
”They are trying to annihilate all animals and birds of this farm’ Old Cow cried.
‘Sanctuary! Its a Sanctuary!’ the Fox prompted.
The audience began to clap and chant ‘sanctuary! sanctuary!’
‘Buffaloes and goats want to destroy us because we are united and happy’, Old Cow continued gravely, ‘there’ll be no getting away from being bludgeoned to an organ-punctured, bloodied death. Your young ‘uns will be made into soup!’
‘Oh! Save us – save us Old Cow’ pleaded all the animals.
‘Listen then and listen well: f you want to live and keep your younglings alive – you have to believe in the amulet. It only works if you believe. So, tell me birdies and animals – what will it be?’
‘She said birdie again’ the Goose whispered to the Swan.
But the Swan was very scared by now. A brief recollection of a filthy human trying to stroke her flashed before her eyes.
‘I’m with Old Cow here’ the Swan stood up, ‘all the birdies are’.
‘With you, with you’, the sheep bleated in unison.
Old Cow now chewed cud with reasonable contentment. She called the Fox closer and ordered him to make a grand graffiti ‘Cows are the only bovine, rest are impostors’. The Fox rolled his eyes. The Owl sighed.
The cat quietly slinked out of the barn.
Inspired by: Animal Farm by George Orwell