Once upon a time, 13 young wild boars wandered into a long, winding cave in the Mythical Forest where they live. They did not know that water was rising to block the only exit. When they found out, it was too late; the siblings were trapped in a narrow and damp space. There was no food or light. Everyone of them got very scared.
Outside the cave, the animals in the forest were extremely worried about the young boars. The lion, who usually fed on the native boars, offered to dig through the cave walls. The hyena, who normally ate the boar carcasses left by the lion, volunteered to build temporary dams to divert the rainwater. The crocodile, whose tears had never been trusted by anyone, cried the whole time while helping to re-direct water.
One dove died after flying inside to map the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns. The death did not deter the other animals. Instead, it galvanised them. Everyone helped everyone. The female animals cooked for all the males involved in the search and rescue. The young ones gathered around the cave to send heartfelt prayers.
The unprecedented joint efforts were intensified and they finally bore fruit. Thanks to everyone, including the “big-mouth sparrow” who had told the whole forest of the young boars’ plight, the siblings were saved. They emerged from the cave frail, starving and yet grateful.
The Mythical Forest celebrated, but the festive atmosphere was short-lived. The lion resumed his cockiness, saying the young boars could have died had he not rushed to the site and issued a rallying cry for unity. The hyena, the crocodile and the sparrow all claimed credit. To further complicate matters, a crow told the young wild boars that they should not relate the story of their ordeal to anyone unless they were paid handsomely.
The siblings were confused. Should they get “rewards” from an ordeal that resulted in the dove’s death? Should they talk to the big-mouth sparrow. who would certainly use their story for his own benefit? Would staying silent make them look ungrateful? Would speaking out be seen as selfishly taking advantage? Should they look cheerful or sad in public?
Everyone wanted to hear the wild boars tell their stories. And, somehow, jungle politics became mixed up with their painful tales and survival. Many animals said the young boars failed to properly thank the helpers who had come from afar. Others said those who had travelled a long, long way to help them did so expecting nothing in return to begin with.
Credit was claimed, disputed and ridiculed. The animals returned to normal life. What should the 13 wild boars do? The phenomenon of love, togetherness and true sacrifice that had led to their rescue was now in danger of falling apart.
The 13 were not even sure if or when politics was behind the mentioning of the dead dove. They were saddened by his tragic sacrifice, but many animals thought the boars should have been sadder. Some animals even seemed to be sadder than the boars.
In a way, the siblings were trapped again. Only this time there was no muddy water; the air was fresh and plenty of food was on the table. Soon, they would be roaming free like they used to, but their lives in the Mythical Forest would never be the same. Already, they were being told they must grow up to be good adults in gratitude to the entire jungle that had helped them. Did that mean they could not drop out of school? Was that a warning that they should never explore any cave ever again?
Everyone would live happily ever after. There was nothing else the 13 boars could have wished for. As for them, thankful as they were, the Mythical Forest they had emerged to was a lot more perplexing than the one they left behind when the cave waters rose.
In between, when they were trapped in a dark, cramped space, the forest was ideal. The phenomenon was brief, but it was perfect all the same. The 13 wild boars had not meant to work this magic, but they created it all the same, with their curiosity and naughtiness.
Now, things in the Mythical Forest were quickly returning to normal. The wild boars would grow up in a place where the lion was fierce and powerful, the hyena wicked and greedy, and the big-mouth sparrow worked with malicious agendas.
The siblings did not want to go back into the cave. They would have to take it one step at a time in the forest that seemed to be celebrating their survival in a weird way. After all, it was the same forest as the one they had disappeared from, and one that had managed to show its noble potential, no matter how briefly.