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Dhiab, The Cat

© A Series of Short Stories written by Gigi Mejri First Day at School (1) The streets were swarming with angelic voices. Mothers and offsprings marching toward the same objective, dreaming of a bright future and praying for favorable winds.

Dhiab got up early, put on his clothes, added the weight of the schoolbag on his skinny shoulders and headed to school. The unusual sight of so many colors and the incomprehensible sounds made their way into his mind with no previous warning. He didn't tire himself to understand, yet the inner confusion made him stumble then fall down. Luckily, no one noticed the incident as he was lagging behind. He hasn't detached himself yet from the task of the shepherd of yesterday. A shepherd cannot lead the herd after all.

Dhiab the Cat rose then bent to tie his shoe laces but saw his big swollen toes coming out of the socks and the shoes as well.

He made a few more steps and the soles got detached from the upper part. Useless to keep them, he bent again to untie the shoe laces. When he raised his head, he found himself face to face with a cat. He saw his reflection in the greenish cat's eyes. He saw himself smiling, however he was not. "Cats never lie. What I am seeing is nothing but the pure truth", Dhiab said to himself in a whisper.

The cat raised its right leg and started cleaning its face. Dhiab noticed the nice, soft paw. He threw what remained of his shoes and the socks with the holes on the toes, liberated his feet and went to school, bare-foot. "In Class" (2) Dhiab heard his name and hurried to join the queue. He was a stranger, he knew no one and that did not bother him at all. Once inside the classroom, the teacher placed him at the back which relieved him in at least for two reasons: no one could notice his bare feet and he could have a full view of the pupils. The teacher introduced himself and talked about the importance of being present in class "body and soul". "Learning is like food, the more you eat, the better you digest, the more flesh you get, the healthier and the stronger you become and the smarter you grow", he said. Some kids laughed at the idea, others did not grasp the image but Dhiab's mind flew to his sheep. He kept nodding and approving the teacher's judicious comparison. He saw his sheep grazing non-stop till they were satiated. He saw himself taking them to the best places where grass was fresh and no other shepherd had trodden. When the teacher asked for a feedback, Dhiab raised his hand and said: "The more you varied the food, the faster we devour it, so make sure everyday we have something fresh. Make us dance because sheep bleat out of hunger but dance when they are satiated. Be our shepherd teacher and we'll be your obedient lambs."

The pupils laughed and some of them bleated whereas the teacher scanned Dhiab's face in admiration and said: "Your words make the young laugh and the old reflect upon." "The Test" (3) The teacher was happy with his pupils. He did his best and so did they. The atmosphere was so enjoyable that creativity found its way to those minds who made of team work, the motto of their class.

A banner was hanged on the door where you could read: "Two heads are better than one, let alone a whole class."

One day, the teacher thought of assigning a test. He handed each pupil an apple and asked each one to eat it without being seen while biting, chewing or swallowing.

The test would take place during the morning break at the school courtyard. At the signal, the pupils dispersed themselves, each searched for a place to eat their apple without being seen. Some climbed trees, others found secret places, others inserted their heads in their school bags and each did their best in order not to fail.

When the teacher blew his whistle, they all queued in front of their classroom, enthusiastic to relate their experience.

But it happened that Dhiab, The Cat, didn't eat his apple.
"Hadn't you found a place, Dhiab?" Asked the teacher in astonishment.
"No, Sir, in fact, I haven't looked for one. Why should I?" replied Dhiab.
"How is that, can you tell us?" asked the teacher.
"I found it useless Sir, there is no unseen place. We can never be alone, away from eyes. Didn't you tell us that walls have ears? So they do have eyes as well. When I approached the entrance gate, I saw the peacock painted on the wall contemplating me with all its beautiful eyes. I felt the breeze, the trees, the flowers and the bees inviting me. From above, God is watching us. He knows our ins and outs. How can I act solely?"
"We are intertwined. We make a chain of eyes Sir. So, I prefer eating my apple in front of you all. This way I don't have to be in a hurry, afraid of being caught just like a thief. I want to eat it at ease, at my own pace to better taste it, Sir."

"Long live team work...Long live team work", shouted one of the pupils. "The universe is one big eye. it watches, guides, and reflects our deeds. It is a huge scene where we see and where we are seen" added Dhiab, The Cat.

Dhiab, The Cat
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