Characters

  1. The owner: Owner of a two-acre land
  2. The wife: The owner’s wife

Introduction

“The Rightful Inheritors of the Earth” by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer is a short narrative in which the author talks about the need to consider the other animals also as part of this earth, as they are the rightful inheritors of the earth. The narrative progresses through a situation faced by the narrator and his wife after they started living in the newly bought house and surrounding land. The problem encountered by them was that their coconuts were eaten by some animals. Later they identified that bats are the real culprits.

Summary

The trespassers are not scared of anyone

The narrator is the owner of a two-acre plot with coconut palms and a house to live in. At those times the price of the coconut was increasing but the trespassers would enter the plot as if they were not afraid at all not even of the dog Shan or the government.

The first trespassers were birds and butterflies, a wide variety of them. The birds chirped and butterflies fluttered around the courtyard. Then came the crows, their cawing was unbearable but the worst was that they missed no chance to swoop on the hens and chicks. Next to arrive were the hawk birds that perched on the coconut palms, they had the same agenda as the crows and both watched and waited. There were also mongooses in the bamboo thicket and foxes in the shrubs close-by ready to pounce on hens. There were rats as well, but it was no surprise as they are found everywhere.

The owner questions the rights of these trespassers

The owner wondered what rights these creatures had to be on his land. Then arrived a fierce creature, a cobra that stood right before the owner and hissed as if asking what business did he had on this land as if it didn’t know he was the owner of the land. The owner wanted it to leave his land but then remembered that the whole earth has been taken over by man, where would it go.

The owner’s wife informed him that the jackfruit had ripened on which squirrels and crows were feasting, and the birds and bats were eating up all the guavas and mangoes. This is the beauty of God’s creation; he created a variety of things in this universe. Even though man is the owner of these lands other creatures have the right to these things too. God has made the world for all the creatures, and one must remember that occasionally.

The real culprits that destroyed the coconuts

The owner’s wife complained if the rats have the right too as they roam about carelessly as if they owned the planet. According to the owner we need a new scientific way that helps humans to live without killing any living creature. The owner then remembered that he has to do something about the coconuts. But the wife decided to take things into her own hands, she went shopping and bought a large tin of rat poison and mixed it with bananas, rice, tapioca, and left it everywhere in the compound.

Within four days five hens, twelve squirrels, two hundred rats, and a cat disappeared. But the coconuts kept falling. The real culprits behind it were the bats. The owner’s wife wanted to buy a gun and shoot the bats but the owner refused. The wife with her cousin went to kill the bats that hung in a banyan tree near a temple but the whole neighbourhood threatened to kill them if they harmed any of the bats.

Conclusion

Although bats cannot be considered the reincarnation of our ancestors, the story ends with the narrator saying that they have a right to live on this earth. The author’s words may remind us of an old concept in ancient India, the Vasudhaiva family, ‘Vasudha’, ‘land’ and ‘family’. In other words, the whole world is a family, including animals.