Her name was Aisha, her eyes were embers, her skin was ebony. Graceful as a gazelle, young Aisha was running slowly across the savanna.
Flowering acacia trees under a magenta sky scattered dreams of her prince.
His skin was sea foam, his eyes were heavens, his name was Ian.
In the immense African night thirsty gazelles kiss the refreshing waters of the lake.
“Oh, come to my side my beloved husband, the apple of my eye; come to me my fair prince. The moon is guiding you in finding the way into my arms.
Pure and luminous is my love for you like the baobab flowers and only the age of baobabs match my fidelity to you.
I am dark as the night but shining with beauty like the sun.
Come under the baobab tree. Its bark will give us clothes, its leaves will give us medicine, the fruit will give us food and quench our thirst and the trunk will give us shelter.”
The young husband hears the love call and dashes to embrace her.
“Beloved gazelle, jewel of my life, your longing is sister to my longing for you. Between us oceans of love, between us mountains of desire, between us savannas of hope fill the moments of separation. Your kisses are as sweet as the heart of the prickly pear, your embrace is warm and dear to me.”
Kisses as sweet as the heart of the prickly pear and warm embraces followed.
Aisha was now with child.
One night they called the animals that gathered by the freshwater lake.
“Tell us the teachings of this world for our future son, you beasts of the earth.”
And for nine months animals kept telling stories.
“I am the giraffe known for spiritual vision. Many thousands years ago, in Africa, my ancestors have been depicted on rocks by the Kiffian people. My saying is that from earliest times till today man has believed that all that exists in this world has a soul. Humans and animals and plants have life, but the mountains and rivers, and rocks and the stars have a soul too and there is nothing I can tell of who does not have a spirit. Go to all corners of the earth and you will find people who believe in animism.”
And for a month the giraffe came to the lake and told Aisha and Ian stories of animistic beliefs in many mythologies.
“I might be older than you and my wisdom is legendary,” said the elephant. “I am also revered as a god, Lord Ganesha, by the Hindus. Among my teachings are those of Dharma, Samsara, Karma and Moksha, and various Yogas.
The wisdom of the Hindus goes back to the sacred Vedas which are older than other scriptures.” So every night for one full month the majestic elephant told old beliefs, and teachings from Rig Veda, Bhaagawada Gita and the beautiful mythological stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Slowly moving along from the deserts of Sahara came to the animal gathering the African spurred tortoise.
“I come from the oldest times of this world when in distant China my ancestor, the sacred tortoise, was the symbol of longevity. The first characters were inscribed on our shells.We witnessed the birth of Tao. I can tell you about the three jewels of Tao: compassion, moderation and humility and the reverance of nature, health and longevity and the principle of wu wei that is action through inaction.Tao is the true teaching and respect for ancestor spirits and immortals,” added the tortoise.And night after night it told from the teachings,symbols and rituals of taoism.
Walking quickly to meet the animals gathering one night appeared a village dog.” I am an African village dog” it said .”My ancestors are the earliest domesticated dogs on earth.Our qualities and virtues were revered by one of the oldest religions, Zoroastrianism.The Chinwad Bridge to Heaven is said to be guarded by dogs in Zoroastrian scripture.Respect for the dog is common among Iranian Zoroastrian villagers. So I bring to you the word of the Avesta, the Zoroastrian scripture.Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal god, Ahura Mazda.He is the only creator of the world which is based on two principles, good and evil.In this conflict humans take action through good deeds, good behavior, good thoughts.”
And this is how the dog told stories from the life of Zoroaster and the sacred scriptures of Iranian people.
In the fifth month of her pregnacy Aisha saw a collared dove flying above her head and landing on her shoulder. The animals were silent and the guest introduced itself.”I am from a distant time when after the flood Noah sent a dove to see if there was land somewhere and it came back with an olive branch.
Judaism tells of wonderful qualities of doves associated with the Jewish people”
“What is Judaism?” asked Ian.
“Judaism it’s about the relationship between the Jewish people and God.Jewish people believe they were chosen to live exemplary lives, to model the kind of behavior that God wants of humans. By following the ten commandments you become a good Jew.”
And the dove cooed for 30 nights stories about the Jewish people and their religion.
“I come to you with the teaching of Lord Buddha” said the rhinoceros. In the “The Rhinoceros Sutra” the Buddha says one should wander lonely as a rhino.
“ Renouncing violence for all living beings,
harming not even a one;
You would not wish for offspring,
so how a companion?
Wander alone like a rhinoceros.”
And Buddha-nature is like the pure rhinoceros, mind you. Buddhist faith in Amitabha through the recitation of his name teaches that, as a consequence of this practice, after death one will achieve rebirth in paradise.”
And the Rhino continued the stories from the teachings of Buddha for one month while every soul was listening with interest.
One night the waters of the lake trembled and a fish bubbled up.
”I am the African carp. I have relatives on most continents. My teaching is very old, and my God is Lord Jesus Christ. He who died on the cross took upon Himself the sins of mankind. He lived in virtue and taught virtue. Faith, hope and charity (love) is the Christ moral teaching. Just whisper with me the words of Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Now came the camel that spoke of a sacrifice and a sign from Allah. ”I preach Islam. The Qumran teaches that Allah is the only creator of all life and Muhammad is his prophet. Islam means submission to one god.”
In the ninth month confessed the monkey. ”I do not have a god .I am an atheist.”
Aisha and Ian listened respectfully and thanked all animals.
“All teachings are equally good”, they said in one breath.
And Aisha gave Ian their first born named Olumide, meaning God has come.
My original story of a mixed-race couple awaiting for their first born and the teaching of various religions voiced by nine animals that come to give counsel on the new born education.The story advocates tolerance and peace.It was inspired by my painting “Love and protect”.
This is exactly a 1200 words story for the contest 12 Words of Holy Days for Tiferet Journal December issue.