Even before I woke up, I could feel my heart beating faster. It was reassuring since this would be my first spring all alone. I did not have my mom beside me like the first five springs that I had woken up to.
As I opened my eyes, I was greeted by the familiar spectacle of a lush green valley that I longed so much before I feel asleep a few months ago. I rushed out of the den which I had so carefully selected last winter. I was so excited that I almost stumbled on a boulder which was exposed on the surface which was now devoid of snow.
Let me introduce myself first before I narrate you my tale. I am Dzu-Teh and I am a resident of The Land of Giants. I am five years old now and I am on my own from this year. I am eager to plunge into my own adventures and explore life from this spring.
As I rushed out of my den, I was greeted by the familiar sight of Mount K2 at a distance. Our Land of Giants was to the south west of this majestic mountain which is part of the lofty Karakoram range of the Himalayas. While we like to believe that we are the supreme Giants in the land of Giants, mom told me last year that the real giants in this universe are the lofty peaks that surround us and make this valley our abode of peace. It was a surprisingly bright day and I gazed into the south east horizon and caught sight of the Nanga Parbat mountain which could only be glimpsed on a clear day.
The sunlight was warm and friendly and I could see white clouds in a very clear sky. Soon after I frolicked for some time in the dense grass, a bright rainbow appeared in the sky, as if to welcome me to this beautiful world once again. I was feeling astonishingly light as I always felt in spring and I could sense that I was famished from deep within. The good news was that there was food everywhere that I could see. I devoured some salix willow bushes in no time and moved onto the violet flowers which were next on the menu. While there are over three hundred species of plants that grow on our valley, I like to eat the salix along with the violet wild flowers that are also found everywhere.
Soon I could hear the familiar sound of the flowing Karabosh river and went to check if I could catch some fish that I also loved to eat. While I was fishing, I saw some Golden Marmots who were nervous as usual at my very sight. Just as I smiled at one of them, their vigilant sentinel started sending the warning cries to his mates. While I do admit that I like to eat these fellow golden creatures at times, I was in no mood today to run after them. I was too busy chomping on the vegetation and fish and did not want a chase this early. After all, there were full four month of eating left for this season.
These golden marmots puzzled me. Mom told me that these were the only creatures who could stand up right on their hind legs but were not killers. We Himalayan Brown bears usually stand up on our hind legs to look at a distance or to intimidate our prey. While these marmots were harmless, mom warned me about the other creature which could only walk on their hind legs. These were humans. Strangely, they found it exceedingly difficult to walk on all four legs. I once found one of them trying to crawl within the grass foliage in order to avoid being spotted by me. The fellow was visibly distraught and his funny posture made me laugh. I would go closer to check on him but my mom told me to run away from him as fast as I could. She told me that in our folklore, it is said that once upon a time, we the Himalayan Brown bears ruled the mountains. There were ten thousand of us and there would be enough food for all across all the valleys of the Himalayas. She added that in the last one hundred years, our population has halved, primarily due to the attack on bears by humans. These humans could kill us even from a distance by using some magic. It was hard to believe it though, given that they are so puny. However, we should always obey the wisdom of our folklore, so even the most valiant among us run away from these creatures even at a mere sight of them.
Later in the afternoon, while I was frolicking in the grasslands and chasing some bees, I heard the ringing of some bells which is always a bad sign. Sure enough, there was a herd of sheep which were grazing on our valley. I stood up to have a clear look from above the foliage and saw that the herd was very large. It comprised more than a hundred sheep and there was a dog which was barking commands at them. I always wondered how dogs could talk to sheep since I did not find their barking intelligible at all. I must confess that last year I did try to eat a sheep, just to understand how it tasted. A pack of dogs came barking at me and I aborted my meal. Not that I was scared of those little dogs, I just didn’t want to be disturbed while I enjoyed a new dish for my lunch.
However, this year it was different. Last year I saw these herds in the middle of summer. Today was the first day of spring. These herds were owned by humans and it only meant that humans were on our lands very early this year. Soon enough, I sighted a human which rushed towards me along with the dog. I did not waste time and ran away as fast as I could as recommended by our custom.
At night, I chose to sleep in a forest of wild flowers by the bank of the lake Sheosar. As I reflected on my day, I was grateful that I had woken up after months of slumber. I was overjoyed that there was plenty to eat and drink in our land of giants and nature was kind with her bountiful offerings once again. However, I also felt a bit gloomy when I thought about how I spotted a human on the very first day of spring. I felt apprehensive if I could survive this year by running away from them and their magic if they came in large numbers. As I brooded over this, I looked up into the clear sky which was dazzling with moonlight.
As I gazed into the sky, I could spot the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation and the Ursa Minor (Little Bear) constellation. My heart was filled with hope again when I remembered that my mom had told me that as per the folklore of us, the Himalayan Brown Bears, as long as we could see the Great Bear and Little bear constellations in the sky, this Land of Giants will belong to us, the Himalayan Brown bears and we will survive yet another cycle of sleep and awakening. No puny creature will be able to take it away from us so long as the bears above kept a watchful eye on us.