The Night Shepherds
Omar EL MOUZ is a high school teacher of English. He Got his BA from the department of English at Ibno Zohr university, Agadir. He is interested in writing articles and stories, translating written works from English to Arabic or Arabic to English.
There was no time for me to reach my aim as I heard a male voice vibrating around me. It was dark; therefore, seeing was so difficult or almost impossible. However, my sixth sense told me that it was a voice of a person whom I knew so much. After a while, I heard leaves of eucalyptus trees being moved to and fro by the wind blowing in. I couldn’t bear the situation any more. My hands were shivering, and my hair started to take an upright position on my skin. I couldn’t stop my feelings of fright and fear that I could be harmed by some potential creature in that jungle.
As I walked forward along a row of tens of trees, I smelt some food being prepared nearby. I thought it to be a herald of some refuge and a potential shelter. Unfortunately, as I advanced, my predictions were wrong. Next to me under the cliff, some shepherds were surrounded by their sheep that were scattered hither and thither. Some of these sheep had already declared my presence by a series of their usual short continuous sounds. At least, my fear was lessened, and my loneliness started to disappear as I felt like a member of a group to which I used to belong but never thought to rejoin once again.
I kept myself unseen for a while until the early morning’s light had already covered the horizon. I was both enchanted and amused by the early tweets of birds above the trees. I guessed that they were aware of my presence but showed no will to betray it. When I got close to the shepherds, I got a glance of their bald heads. A long flute could be clearly seen in the hands of one youngster leaning on a eucalyptus tree core. His naked shoulders told me a lot about the severe and hard life these shepherds endure. His feet were intentionally left bare to witness some air and get rid of their usual stinky smell. On the opposite side, there sat an old man with a long white beard. I thought he was one of the local clergy men.
Surprisingly, I recognized later that he was just an old man who had been abandoned by his disobedient children because of some of his insane behaviors as he had already started his ninth decade in life. Being lost somewhere in this terrifying jungle, he was brought in by these shepherds with the hope to integrate him into their group. His looks conveyed both guilt and fear. Since my sight was still unrecognized, I enjoyed being a secret onlooker and tried to hold my breath and keep my fear unrevealed.
As I was sitting on a big rock nearby observing the scene that couldn’t be but bewildering, I felt a strange movement beside me. It was not until I turned aside that I spotted a long cobra with a spotted-triangle-like head heading toward my legs that were hanging from the rock. I quickly stood up and screamed loudly. At that particular moment, all the shepherds headed toward me. I could recognize their shock and surprise. One of them ventured to take control of the snake without any humble risk of being bitten. I was sure that I was not welcome like the old man. My presence there was in a way troublesome to all shepherds. I could also hear some of them telling his partners, “We have two gifts today. It’s really a sign of a good morning!”
I felt suddenly that I was lying on my usual bed. I tried to make sense of the situation but couldn’t find any sign of the shepherds nor of the old man. Only a sound of a friend of mine snoring beside me broke my contact with the shepherds and brought my consciousness back to life. I discovered that the familiar voice was that of my friend who had been calling his mom. I was then thankful to my Lord for keeping my life out of the shepherds’ reach in that terrible and terrifying night.