The Quills of the porcupine

This is a story about a Porcupine named Lukas, who discovered much more than he had anticipated on the journey to his new school.

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Lukas was a young and intelligent porcupine. He was energetic and popular amongst his friends. Not only was he swift on his feet and skillful at making his way among brambles, but he also had a special ability that none of the other porcupines possessed. Lukas, like the other porcupines, could grow back his needle-like quills within a few days if he had lost any, but he, at the slightest sign of any threat, could shoot his quills accurately and ward off any danger.  

What Lukas loved most was going to school and learning new things. He was fascinated by the prospect of discovering and understanding new concepts and gradually gaining knowledge. He would eagerly look forward to each day at school.

Good news arrived one afternoon as Lukas was lying idly in bed. It was summer vacation and school was closed, there was no rush to do anything. As he was looking out the open window admiring the sights and scents of summer, Lukas saw a flutter among the nearby trees. Poes, the friendly pigeon who delivered mail to this part of the neighborhood, flew down and settled on one of the low-lying branches of a tree. She was holding a letter firmly in her beak. Lukas’ father greeted Poes and took the letter from her. He read the letter and called out to Lukas and his mother. His voice was quivering with excitement….

Lukas scrambled out of his bed and ran outside to join his father. His mother was already holding the letter in her hand, and when she saw Lukas, she gave him a warm hug. Lukas’ father said:  “Son, you have been accepted by the Zubmahal Porcupine School! I am so proud of you. Now that you have the chance of studying in the best school for porcupines, make the most of this opportunity! The new school session begins in a week from now.”   

Lukas’ heart was thumping with excitement, and he looked forward to the day when he would set foot on the new campus. But at the same time, he was worried, as the only road that led to the Zubmahal Porcupine School passed through the nearby forest and the valley of Restlez. And that route was known to be fraught with danger…. 

The road started at the mouth of the forest. Down the road, red stinging ants lived and thrived. As one walked along the road, the route turned and twisted endlessly and led to the densest part of the forest. That part was inhabited by giant, mischievous monkeys who snatched the belongings of anyone who dared to walk by. When one finally reached the valley of Restlez thinking that the worries were over, there was a large lake infested with crocodiles that one had to go around to reach the other side.

Finally, the day arrived when Lukas bade goodbye to his family and friends. With an anxious heart, Lukas set out on the journey to his new school. He tried to calm his mind by reminding himself that he would be studying at the best school. He also gained courage from the fact that he could bank on his special ability to shoot his quills in the face of imminent danger. With these thoughts in his mind, Lukas entered the forest and started walking down the road…..

After a while, Lukas reached the part of the forest where the red stinging ants lived. He listened carefully to pick up even the slightest of sounds along the way. Soon, he heard a strange rustling sound coming from a few feet away. His instincts told him that it must have been the ants crawling on the dry leaves lining the forest floor. The next instant, Lukas shot off five quills in the direction the sound was coming from. He turned his head to see if the ants were really there but, to his surprise, he saw that the noise was created by some dry and crumpled leaves rustling in the breeze and brushing against a hollow branch lying on the ground. Lukas heaved a sigh of relief and resumed his journey.

After walking for a couple of hours, Lukas reached the most daunting part of the forest. He knew that the giant monkeys were around and imagined that they were stealthily watching his every move. He quickened his pace so that he could cross that part of the forest as quickly as possible. As Lukas was walking along the winding path, his eyes fell on a giant shadow, and he froze in his tracks. He immediately shot off a large number of quills towards the shadow, but the shadow did not move. Now, Lukas decided to approach and see for himself who or what it was. Lukas tiptoed in the direction of the shadow and peered from behind a tree. It was a large rock that looked like a gigantic monkey crouching behind a tree. Lukas felt relieved and continued walking down the path. Soon, he reached the valley of Restlez.  Before long, he was standing on the edge of the lake that he would have to go around to cover the last lap of his journey.

As Lukas was walking along the edge of the lake, he thought he saw a slight movement in the water. In a split second, he shot off some quills and hid behind a tree to see what had created the ripples. He was surprised when he saw two little otters scurrying along playfully. He almost smiled and continued walking. A little further down the road, he heard a splash in the water. That time, Lukas was certain that a crocodile had spotted him and was making its way towards him. Without thinking any further, he shot off a number of quills and turned back to see whether his hunch was correct. But it was only a turtle that had slid into the water to cool off. 

After a few hours, Lukas saw the large gates of the Zubmahal Porcupine School. As he approached the gates, he was breathless and tired. But when he went to knock on the gates, he realized that he had lost all his quills trying to defend himself from what he thought were dangers during his journey. He was scared of having to enter an unfamiliar place while unprotected.  For a moment, Lukas thought of turning back and heading home. Just then, he heard the lock of the large gates open with a loud squeaking noise. When he looked around, he saw many young porcupines standing at the gate, waiting to welcome him. One of them was holding a large sign that said, “Welcome Lukas.” He walked up to Lukas and grabbed his paw. He led Lukas into the campus and said: “We were waiting just for you Lukas. Come, let’s go and play.”

Lukas felt elated as the other porcupines hugged him. As they were showing him around the school, Lukas forgot that he had no quills. He started enjoying himself so much that he wished the day would never end….

© 2020

Wind down, relax and increase awareness of the body and breathing.

Lie down on your back, relax your entire body, and make sure you are making no special effort. Scan your body from head to toes and observe the weight you apply on the bed with each part of your body.

[Do this for 15 seconds, in silence]

Now close your eyes and put two palms on your eyes, do not apply pressure on your eyes. It should be a light touch; feel that air can easily flow between your face and hands.

Now inhale through your nose and feel the air flowing in and filling up your body, and exhale through the nose, again noticing the air flowing out through the nostrils. Do this 3 times.

[Wait 15 seconds]

Now put your palms over your heart, letting your palms gently touch your chest.

Again, inhale through your nose, feel the air flowing in and filling up your body, then exhale through the nose, noticing the air flowing out through the nostrils. Do this 3 times.

[Wait 15 seconds]

Now put your palms over your belly; let your palms touch your belly lightly.

Again, inhale through your nose and feel the air flowing in and making your belly rise; now exhale through the nose, again noticing the air flowing out through the nostrils. Do this 3 times.

[Breathe 3 times like this]

Now, we shall begin our story…

© 2019

Focus awareness on how the story resonates within us. There are no right or wrong answers here, you can also just throw the questions into the air.

“Irrigators channel waters; fletchers straighten arrows; carpenters bend wood; the wise master themselves”

Would you like to set out on a journey to find something?

Do you think Lakan enjoyed the journey?

What would you look for if you set out on a journey?

What would you take with you on the journey?

When Lakan became queen, what do you think people liked the most about her?

© 2019

Create awareness, clarity and calm. This practice is related to the story so as to make the practice easier for kids.

Imagine that you have set out on a journey to find the rock of wisdom. You have taken a dirt road and started walking on it.

Look around you. You are at a riverbank, the river is quietly following, and when you look a bit downstream you see a small waterfall so there is a pleasant background noise of water falling.

You start walking down the road as it bends into a forest. You are walking downhill from where you are and, in the distance, you see a big valley stretching out beneath you.

Imagine how you are walking down looking at the stream on your left, the road in the middle, and the tall forest trees on your right.

Walk slowly and breath in the fresh air…. Now just keep walking, try to focus your attention on the road and how your feet are touching the ground with each step.

There will come a point when you feel you are distracted, your thoughts will have wandered off to another place. When this happens, stop, pick up a rock, and put your thought on it; now roll it gently into the water, then return your focus to the road….

[Keep this up for 30-60 seconds]

Now return you focus to where you are – to yourself – and have a good night’s sleep

© 2019

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