On my way out sometimes last November, I noticed three men pulling and pushing a ram (male sheep) that appeared not to be co-operating with them. At the time, I had no idea that the Muslim Ileya festival was around the corner. It was possible that the ram had got wind of this too, hence the defiance.
One of the men was pulling the ram with a rope and the other two were pushing from the back with their hands. The ram literally dug in his heels refusing to be moved. I guess the thought running through his mind was “you will have to break sweat, if you must move me.” Thinking about it now, I’m surprised that the ram was that defiant given that sheep, unlike goats are known to be generally docile. Could you blame him? Who wants to die?
Coincidentally, when I attended Sunday service the following day, the title of the sermon was ‘Are you a Sheep?’ Taking his text from Matthew 25 the preacher looked at Jesus’ analogy of how the sheep will be favoured in God’s kingdom and the goats cast out into outer darkness. To drive home his point, he proceeded to give a comparison between goats and sheep. They were revealing to say the least:
· Goats are pushy, self sufficient, headstrong and quarrelsome whilst sheep are generally gentle.
· All goats are horned, not all sheep are. The irony is not lost here as horns are needed to harm other animals.
· Goats do not require supervision or care, they are independent and they can easily retire to their wild condition. Sheep on the other hand require tendering.
· Goat’s tails point up toward the sky. Sheep have theirs hanging down, pointed at the ground
· Unlike sheep, goats do not graze. They browse. They wander around.
· Goats emit a bad odour – it’s like a smell of pride which gets them quick attention. Sheep do not
· Anywhere there is a goat, there is a problem.
I remember that while I was growing up, a few people reared goats in our very large and overpopulated house. All the goats got into one kind of problem or the other, entering people’s rooms to ‘eat’ their stew and even children's homework. One goat owned by my grandmother had to be quickly put down because she ate something that got her fighting for dear life.
Last word - So what got the ram I saw so hardy?