The Lion’s Curse

On the great plains of Africa there once lived a lion cub. Not long before, his mother had slain a great witch doctor as he hunted her pride for the special ingredients of life-giving potions. With his dying breath the man had put a curse upon the very next cub that she would bare: let he or she be doomed to think, as mankind must.

Time passed by and the cub survived as others did: frolicking in the grass with the other cubs, following his mother and eating the spoils of the pride’s latest kill.

Soon the cub was on the verge of adulthood. Yet suddenly, there was a problem.

Now it would be time for the cub to hunt and kill, as lions must to survive. Yet try as he might the cub could not bring himself to chase and kill the zebra, antelope or warthog. Something inside him slowed his gait, killed his will and froze his paws to the grassland floor.

Amongst the other cubs this caused much mockery. What lion is a lion who cannot kill to feed himself and his pride?

The cub did not understand it either. Was it kindness or justice that stood in his way?

No. For the zebras that woke every morning and outran the pride would deny them the meat they needed to survive. They were no more obliged to die than he was. Yet no less obliged to survive than he.

Was it physical courage then?

No, he reasoned, for death was not less fearful than living, whose joys by now he knew too well, while the terror and pain of death remained a mystery. The antelope feared death as it feared the lion’s teeth. Survival then was not courage and to run from him was no braver than it was for him to hunt his prey.

Yet still he felt a burden, a weight that he could not shake. Even as he went hungry, even as the other lions mocked him, even as he tried and failed to digest the fruit and grass.

Then one morning a sense of calm overtook the cub and as if this weight that he carried was gripped in his own jaws, he quietly crept towards a foal he had spotted from the bush.

As soon as he sprang from his hiding place the weight was dropped.

As soon as he chased with all his might the curse was broken.

And as soon as the young lion sank its teeth into the neck of that first zebra, he became who he was for the first time.

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