In ancient times, somewhere in the forests of Central Europe lived a tribe by name Beertas. They created a colony in the deep forests of the land and preferred to stay away from the rest of the civilization. The Kingdoms around these forests heard of folklore that spoke about special abilities of the Beertas and how they have figured out a way of life intertwined with nature.
Of the many great skills the Beertas were known to possess, they were also known to be experts at identifying medicinal herbs and gathering honey from the most exquisite beeswax. One of the lesser known reasons why the tribes were let on their own without being conquered by the neighboring kingdoms was due to the reliance on the Beertas to cure certain deadly diseases by sharing rare herbs and rare honey extracted from impossible locations of the land. “They speak to the bees and are lead by them to these locations”, said the village people that lived closer to the forests.
The Beertas relied on each other and lead a life by “the code of the tribe” with a sacred mission to pass down their ancestral knowledge to the next generations. Children were carefully observed to sense the budding talent and further coached by expert teachers of the tribe towards one of the rare skills that helped Beertas survive and thrive. Young boys and girls grew up into “friends of birds”, “friends of animals”, “friends of the plant” or “friends of the bee”. Ever once in a long time, they had one child that was born with a gift to conquer all of the above special skills. Such men/women grew up to head the tribe and took responsibility of the Beerta tribe as long as they lived. Kookah was the reining lord of the tribe at the time.
Kookah followed his predecessors in organizing his administration into different camps each headed by a leader. The camps themselves were organized by the specific skills that they nurtured and had experts in charge of teaching and further research. Kookah had his best man in Religo who was respected by all the camps as the wisest man of the Beerta tribe. Religo belonged to the camp “friends of the bee” or more commonly known as the “BeeTalkers”.
It must have been the irony of contrast, diversity brought with it a sense of natural competition, and there were debates between the young ones as to which camp was the strongest. “We talk to the forest and help in building shelter, finding medicines, ours is the most sacred and sensitive craft”, said the friends of the plant. “We protect the land, we speak to the birds and bring food but also get early warning of the dangers from beyond. We are the guardians”, said the friends of the birds. “Look who is talking, who speaks to the wild animals and secure the perimeter, who brings the sacred flesh for building strength in our young, we are the fearless”, said the ones that were friends with animals. “One of you should come with our next expedition of bee hunting, you wouldn’t last half a day. We scale the mountains or the tallest of trees to secure the most exquisite honey and keep you all healthy, our warriors are strongest, fastest and swift like the bee. We never tire!”, said the other camp.
“As long as they don’t take to arms against each other Religo”, laughed Kookah as he gathered his camp heads by the council fire. It was customary for the camp heads to meet together every full moon day to talk about the proceedings and any matters that needed attention.
“The code binds them stronger than their ego, Kookah!”, smiled Religo. “However, in all this contrast and competition as to who is better, they are missing the joy of subtleties in their skills and the vast store of ancestral knowledge that they can gain.”
“Something seems to be bothering you Nola”, frowned Kookah. Nola was the head of the BeeTalkers and it was said that she was more a bee herself than a human.
“Same as the other camps, we thrive on learning every single trick and custom of our ancients, mastering it, doing further improvements and passing it to our young. But the young in our camp are growing more impatient, grabbing a few good tricks and filling their stores to glory, no space for more wax in their combs…”, she mumbled into bee language.
The other camp heads smiled sympathetically and nodded in admission. One could count the lines on the forehead of Religo as the moonlight swept past the forestland for a brief moment before a rogue cloud pulled the blinds. “You are a wise teacher Nola, you certainly know how to empty the combs as a wise ancient hunter of the honey”, smiled Religo enquiringly. “Inspire them to learn more, learn everything, eh?”.
“Speaking to the bees is a special and sensitive skill. Speed, strength and patience all at once. Not every bee speaks easy, the young ones learn to speak with one or two varieties and they fetch the same honey”, she shot her words like bee stings.
Kookah remembered his time with Nola when he was being taught, “there are countless types of bees Kookah, you need to develop the sense to speak to every one of them to truly master the art. You should never fill your comb easy, always keep room for more learning, the more you clear your room the more you will be fed with new knowledge”, he was brought back from his thoughts with the cry of a baby in a distant camp.
“Kookah was tough to teach too as a kid”, recollected Nola, “…although he was the special one, it did not come through easy. It took extraordinary efforts to get to him and train him across all the skills”, she smiled. “But not everyone is Kookah and I don’t have the same strength as I used to, although you may not notice my age”, she winked at Religo who was also as old as her. “Yes, the special honey that you don’t share with anyone else”, teased a camp head.
Nola ignored the comment and continued, “I rely on the trainers that I have trained earlier and they complain that the young ones don’t give them a chance to empty their knowledge”, she sighed.
“Before I say anything further, I would like to ask the other camp heads too, how are you handling this in your camps?”, Religo asked.
“The learning is good, but not appreciated, only 1 in 10 are truly catching the spirit of the flighted ones“, said Akiro the camp head for the friends of birds. “Some of them think it is useless to connect, they would like to exert their might and kill the animals”, said the other camp head they called Tora.
As if to set the stage for the wise one to speak, the huge cloud drifted away to allow the white light of the moon shine brightly on Religo, as Kookah looked at him intently. “This is not the first time we face this clog in the history of our tribe. Ever once in a while we hit a point where we find it hard to pass on the baton of our rich knowledge, but ever once in a while we also get a gifted one…”, his words silenced themselves to give way to an upcoming revelation and he continued, “…and both these events happens in the same lifetime for a reason. It is like a cycle and the answer to the problem, for generations has always been the same…”, he looked intently at the crackling fire and announced, “…fire!!!”
“I have heard that before Religo, but for the benefit of the others, would you explain what Religo meant Nola?”, asked Akiro as he saw Kookah smile from the corner of his eye.
“Let Religo himself elaborate, I find it hard not to bring the beetalk in my speak and you would not learn much from it”, said Nola as she leaned back in-place on her stone pedestal covered with soft grass and feathers twined with large leaves.
“Do you remember it Kookah, the incident which helped you overcome your disinterest in learning?”, smiled Religo. “What! Kookah, the gifted one had challenges in learning?”, asked Tora, the head of the friends-with-animals camp. “Oh yes I did! all the ones that Nola described our young are going through today, and several more”, Kookah looked far into the dark forest recollecting his memories from childhood.
“I had sparks of brilliance, there were moments when I picked up a skill quickly and then I would look for applause and appreciation. If I didn’t get enough of it, I would go numb and not show interest again. The motivation would die down. I would just be happy with what I had and behave arrogantly with everyone around me”, he said. “Unimaginable! how did they teach you the 4 skills then and how did you master them so well that there is none except Religo or Nola that could beat you?”, asked Akiro.
“It takes a spark, good wood and nice breeze to light up a fire…”, paused Kookah as he looked at Religo, “…wasn’t that your plan then?”. “Religo and Nola believed that I had the right material, but to truly generate the fire of learning in me, they needed a spark and some gentle breeze. They found several sparks along the way, sometimes they were generating them, and sometimes we got lucky”, he continued. Religo coughed softly looking at the confused faces of Akiro and Tora.
“By sparks he meant the right challenges to overcome of course. First one was by chance – we received word from the neighboring kingdom that there is an outbreak of a certain yellow fever that has put every able bodied citizen on the bed and the kingdom had stalled. Nola knew of a rare species of honey that could help fight fevers like that one, but that was incredibly difficult to hunt down. This was an ideal opportunity to test the mettle of Kookah and she took a chance. But one thing that Kookah didn’t mention explictly – all the three should meet together to generate fire – the spark, the breeze and the material that can burn”, Religo took a pause and looked at Nola.
“I asked Kookah if he had the courage to join me in a death defying hunt to get the redmud honey from the hives in the caves behind the waterfall on the edge of the Sneka mountains. This would be his chance to show-off yet another skill, but it would mean letting go of everything else and take to hard practice”, she said. “At first, it was the pull of glory, but I quickly understood that it required me to use all the knowledge I have gained and learn so much more. The real pull was getting explicit appreciation from Nola on what I was capable of doing. ‘Swifter than a deer you run, excellent leaps Kookah…there you picked up the right scent, incredible focus…haven’t seen anyone else climb the tree so fast…’. It was much more than just saying something as disconnected as ‘good job!’. She ‘exactly knew what and how to appreciate with every move I made’ – She was the gentle breeze that I needed to sustain the flame”, added Kookah.
“Before I knew I was lost in the quest. It took us 4 full moons to get to the comb and I have seen the magic of bee hunting and the extent of skill that Nola possessed during this time. I wanted to learn it all and she was more than willing to give it away. If reaching the hive was one challenge, getting the honey was a completely different one”, smiled Kookah.
“‘One sting would kill you instantly’, Nola said as we approached the hive. ‘We need to observe their cycle, wait to see if their comb is full and if you read them right, they will allow you to partake some of their wax. Focus on the activity Kookah, these bees have a deadly sting, but they are the most responsible too. They won’t hurt you as long as you don’t show ill intentions towards them’. The next few days I learnt some of my most precious lessons on the BeeTalk from Nola and I had this feeling that the bees were listening too as she spoke about them with such respect and affection. And one day it was our turn to get what we came for. ‘Do not cut, the bees has shown you where to draw the comb out, see that fissure? gently pull from the side. I will watch you do it. No one has attempted this in a 100 years Kookah’. I knew that she wouldn’t let me die of a bee sting after all this training and did exactly as told, but as I turned back with the piece of the comb 50 bees stung at my back at once, sending a shot of pain as if I was getting struck by lightning. I could still see the smile on the face of Nola before I fell unconscious”, Kookah took a deep breath of the fresh breeze of the night.
“It was the mark of the Redmud, they have accepted Kookah as one of their own and initiated him to receive the rest of the knowledge”, said Nola proudly.
“So Religo is it sufficient to throw challenges to get the young ones interested?”, asked Tora. “Sometimes be the spark, and sometimes be the breeze, but always stay close, show them exquisitely the joy of our ancient learning, appreciate them closely, and yes when the wood in them is ready to burn, ignite the spark”, said Religo.
“It takes great effort to achieve such feats and our tribe has very few teachers capable of doing that”, said Nola. “What did you train me for?”, smiled Kookah. “My gifts are not for me to take them to my grave and you taught me that the destiny of the special skills is to impact extraordinary learning. It is my duty to get our young ones feel the warmth of our ancestral knowledge inside of them. Bring forth the ones that you think are your best in each of your camps and we will work together to craft their game”, said Kookah.
“It will tire you out Kookah, these young ones are certainly not as stubborn as you were, but they are not to be taken lightly”, said Nola. “Yet you did not give up on me, and some of the other elders of the tribe. Religo is it time to summon the Beerdareh and initiate the ceremony?” asked Kookah. Beerdareh is called by the Beerta head to launch a series of impossible challenges to aggregate and preserve the most precious items from the forest as a showcase to the young ones of the tribe.
“I will take the best of each from your camps, including some of your trainers, on the quest and show them the amazing hidden wonders and the power of our ancient knowledge. Let me warn you, if they do not have the right wood in them, the quest will burn them down, pick the right ones and prepare them, preparation is key to appreciate and receive our ancient knowledge…”, said Kookah as he left the place in excitement.
“All that effort that you put to train him paid off eh, Nola?”, smirked Religo. “Yes! let the fire in Kookah continue to burn and light several more, leading from the front”, she replied.