No Bark, No Bite

Once upon a time, in a big and diverse country, there lived two large communities—Group Ma and Group Mi—among several smaller communities. Group Ma was the biggest and Group Mi the second biggest in numbers.

Group Mi people traditionally ate tree bark. A vast majority of Group Ma also ate tree bark, but on special occasions, they chose not to. On those special occasions, which were special for Group Ma but not for Group Mi, the Group Mi people continued to eat tree bark.


There was abundant tree bark and no confusion about who ate what and when. Each group was free to follow their own customs and was comfortable about others\’ practices.

One day there arrived a politician who claimed to be a monk belonging to Group Ma. He brainwashed the Group Ma people into thinking that their tradition-imposed limitations should extend to other groups too, such as Group Mi, and Group Pa, and Group Bu, and Group Ch, and Group Si. If these other groups do not stop eating tree bark in sync with Group Ma, then they\’re insulting Group Ma people and their traditions.

Thus brainwashed, the Group Ma people went about with swords and rods, forcibly shutting down tree-bark shops and roughing up anyone who resisted. Group Mi people pleaded that bark is not only food for them, it is also their livelihood. But Group Ma didn\’t relent.

Robbed of their tree-bark selling business, and desperate to make a living, Group Mi people moved on to other occupations, such as manufacturing, healthcare, software development, consulting, education, finance, etc. Meanwhile, Group Ma people continued to specialize in holding rods and looking menacing.

A hundred years passed. While other groups moved up the economic value chain, Group Ma people leveraged their specialization to become proud watchmen for all other groups.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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