Tupa

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story, mildly elasticizing the historic facts, recounting the difficulty in a new, 300 pound member of the family fully adapting until properly appreciated.

Submitted: May 29, 2018

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Submitted: May 29, 2018

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TUPA
Blake D Prescott ?

Some people are naturally outstanding while others never seem to escape from shadows, never quite finding themselves. Animals are like that too. Yes, people are animals, and some deserve the appellation far more than others; nonetheless, this family member, this new arrival, was not human, at least not certainly or wholly human. He was different. Another observation became apparent: he was searching for himself. He was dejected, desperately seeking a singular identity. Yet, this needed identity proved to be elusive.
He came to us by a circuitous route. His progeny remaining in Peru while he exercised his expatriate adventure by coming to Vermont. He carried with him the reputation of his brethren; to be a fearless guardian, capable of taking on a bear in open terrain and emanating as the victor. He would do this to protect his charge, his adoptees.
Nonetheless, he came to us without a name, like a babe left in a basket on the doorstep. He was certainly a very large babe. He weighed over 20 stones. That’s over 300 pounds! He was far larger than those soon to be under his care. They were only a small flock of Icelandic sheep. Amazingly enough, he quickly assumed that he was none other than one of them: a very large one, to be sure. A protector, a paternal figure, an overseer with not only bulk and brawn, but real courage and … a brain – a unique intelligence. He was astute enough to see a storm coming and to herd his flock into the sheep barn before that first distant clap of thunder. He would face off a coyote with no hesitation, and gladly take on a few if such a necessity arrived. He would lead his charge to the best grasses and find clear water to wash the nourishment down. He could picture interjecting himself between a helpless lamb and a bear, a lamb that would somehow know it was better to stay in his shadow than to scamper away. Still, he wandered with his head well before him, surveying the grasslands, dejected. He had no name; his identity was incomplete.
Appreciating his heritage, his long line of distinguished relatives from Peru, we discovered that llamas which were beasts of burden; surely he was above this. There is probably some job appropriation or cast system among llamas since he didn’t seem to fit this line of ancestors. We traced his ancient lineage, researching generations of guanacos, extending even to those in Tierra del Fuego. None stood out to us, possibly because we didn't fully understand guanaco history and the southern patagonians left little of their history – survival having evidently superseded documentation of lifestyle. Then there were his distant relatives, the camels; when I spoke of them, he turned his head down and away, obviously disheartened. That. I assumed, was because this mild mannered beast was not only intelligent and brave but sophisticated as well. He had manners and loved people. He did not spit at them! Indeed, he was most friendly, took to petting and holding, but always in only the most appropriate and limited fashion. He was of the llama elite. He identified with people just as he did with the sheep. Of course … he identified with people, that was it!
While we were most deficient in llama, guanaco, and camel speak, he, our new family member, quickly adapted to our human ways and language. This modest, massive hulk who was so much in need of a further identity was showing us just how we might help. It was back to the books, but not to the guanaco books, or those dealing with the primitive Patagonians. It was the historic tomes of the great Incas that we perused. And then we had it. There was a leader in Peru, an Inca who had more territory under his control than Alexander the Great did in his day. He was Tupa Inca.
So it was that I then ascended the hill where this lonely llama stood and beckoned to him. Cautiously parting from his flock, he approached, limiting his distance – any further advancement depending upon what business seemed to be at hand. He tried not to show it, but he was still disheartened. Now, speaking to a downcast, dejected llama is not a facile undertaking; maintaining his attention while recapitulating Inca history is yet more challenging. I considered throwing in a few words of Quechan to show respect for his ancient patrimony and associates, but after only one or two such attempts, I discerned his expression of disinterest … or disgust. Perhaps my pronunciation was faulty.
It was then that I became abrupt and explained I had come to give him a name. This caused a positive turn of his head. Cautiously, measuring his response as I spoke, I reiterated the history of Tupa Inca. His reaction was attentive, but punctuated by despondent, slightly downward throws of his countenance. It seemed that he knew this history; perhaps it was something all mother llamas taught their offspring. In spite of his rather unsettling and dampening response, I finished the tale of the great Tupa Inca. This was met by a querulous rounding of his head and a stare though his extraordinary eyelashes. I then explained that he deserved not only a name, but one that reflected his heritage, his country, and his responsibility: in short, his stature. I slowly enunciated that he would henceforth be Tupa Inca – but, we would call him Tupa unless there were some formal occasion demanding his full name.
As Tupa absorbed this, he took a few steps toward me, his long neck stretched out, his nose close to my face, his ears cocked, making me wonder if he was a bit hard of hearing. But then, he straightened his long neck toward the sky, lifted his chin in that same line, drew in his generous lips, and walked away slowly, not altering that dignified posture for the rest of the day.
He was recognized: he was Tupa Inca. 


© Copyright 2018 Blake Prescott. All rights reserved.

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