Short Story: The Buddha With a Gun

The moon glared at the reddened horizon and hid on the veil of fickle clouds, earth sheepishly gleamed. Birds sang, plants danced, stream, gulping and gurgling through the rocks, smiled. Palpitation of the grove rose high with the advent of a new day. Slowly, the sun began measuringthe sky,birds returned to their daily chores, stream feeling duped continued its odyssey, air lifelessly wobbled, and the nature was still. Fervour that that lurched with the morning aureole metamorphosed into the pandemonium of the day.

Someone was striding towards the grove. And then again there was humming inducing delight. Earth cosseted the dainty feet tenaciously, mesmerized was the gentle wind that encased the chiselled face. Delightful languor seeped into the heart of nature, leaves on the trees swung and those on the ground woke from slumber. Stream was again lashing and splashing, intrigued by the living soul. Rays of light zinging into the glistening body was merry, and the sun coyly hid into the cloud. Flinging with the living soul, water flowed shamelessly.

*

In the clearing wasthe hermitage where blossoms bloomed, pines and fir hissed. Hypnotized was light that fell onto them, air come into abasement every time it passed. It was a place hallowed by hermit’s penance.He who was into himself, sank in the depth of meditation, hovered on the height of contemplation. The world was inside him, earth brimming with plants and animals was trivia. The one who was in congregation with the self, nothing would impede – even during his daily chores his penance would not slouch from him. His austerity encased the environment that was tied to his piety and devotion.

The night had slipped, hermit came out from his dwelling – there was certitude, darkness had been ousted and light meantenergy. Cool morning breeze stuffed him with new sensation as he strode away from his place, along the hedges and trees. It seemed, the trail ahead blazed with the inducing shimmer and behind him everywhere was the gloom. Devoid of attachment, he walked for ablutions. His stature psyched the nature, murmur of stream was getting louder, but it failed to rout the hush inside.

At a certain place he stopped – in the nudity of creation, he saw a body brazenly stripped. The tantalizing beauty prompted his strenuous thinking, there was no sanction to be evoked with thrill or joy – he was a pious man. Brooding fecundity, he turned inside, something was melting in his profundity. Blatant act of invading the privacy, he relentlessly tried to give up but failed to stop. The melting was ceaseless, the fluid surged breaking the barricades of his stiffness. Enamoured by the languor of washing, he looked at the stream.

Only too late, the one who was marshalling rapport with the serene nature, found the hermit – it was preposterous. The poor little soul scampered, and in a while was nowhere to be seen. The hermit much intent on his own foible was disappointed though it was erroneous act from a man like him.

*

Of sudden he remembered, who he was and where he was – the revelation aggravated him. A pebble casts ripples, a spark ignites acrimonious fire. Ceaseless ripples and ignition were gamut of turbulence, too gallant to be vanquished even to a resilient man like him. He walked though was in no hasten and knew not where about of his destination. How this fickleness could raise its hood, he thought, had he not abandoned such emotions.

He moved on, sifting himself – why this attachment for a body still living; did he not discern the venom hidden in the beauty, was he still glutted with the hankering for worldly pleasure. Why it fanged on him, was it to inveigle him from his destination. He had vowed not to give a second thought about pleasure when he decided to be an ascetic. Was it a despicable design of some evil by sending some lustrous damsel?

No particular place to go he walked, in a dense forest, rehashing his thoughts. He was the only moving soul in the forest, where the daytime sun too, failed in piercing the thickness. In the quest of peace and bliss, he had walked away from his home, and in the solitude he was in rapture, butnow it was loneliness that spread its wings.The spree of desolation got him, he thought himself alone, but was he alone? In the crowd we are alone – we are to save ourselves from the terrible mob. In the seclusion, past does not maroon us – a cohesive group is formed, forgotten faces incessantly talk. Those, who ostracize themselves from the people are in illusion, going away from oneself is cowardice, a suicide.

And he turned inside swinging on the cradle from illusion to reality. Open eyes see the illusion, when closed, reality pokes into. We run for illusion, with the living reality like a musk deer in pursuit of aroma; illusion beyond reach, we impart the reality. We long to conquer the shadow, the image – outcome of reality. Try to touch the sky, cordon water in the fist, enshroud heat in our heart, hold air inside, rise from earth—the venture sags us. The self we do not marshal into, the partial truth we live with. The quest of ultimate truth or resolve the partial truth is our completeness. The truth, he was confused about. This earth, the compendium of plants and animals – is just an illusion?

This was the kingdom of birds. From the fork of trees, light struggled to seep in the haze. On the trail made by animals, he was hushed lest the birds might be disturbed. In the bog, his slippers were heavy to carry. He was liberated from the world of sentient mankind, their world was not spacious for a pertinent man like him, consolidation with the nature was a distant dream. Neither the rhythm of rain splashing on trees, nor the twittering of birds, not even gurgling streams, only the shrill of vainglorious people.

Animals foot prints were ubiquitously etched on the soil, might be of leopards or maybe deer had swaggered from here. He was not intent to invade the privacy of birds, birds that have their own world, away from humans. Peace prevailed everywhere, but very often rumpus by his own legs scared him. The journey spurred him to contemplate like a philosopher and feel like a poet. Juxtaposed with the nature, he meditated not to bust the tranquillity, and thought to get over the world of trees and birds. He was in bliss walking in a place where no human had probably marvelled, mystic world to unravel. His mind was ushered into the dream world. Dew dropped from myrrh trees, peacock flew from one branch and perched on other, monkeys were loquacious. There was no pong like in the world of humans – the aroma of earth and plants stirred him. In the secret refuge of beautiful things, twittering of birds was ceaseless, enlivened creatures were making love, they were singing, they were dancing, they were pecking. The happiness they flaunted was stark different to what humans had, their empire was surreal.And he was slow, very slow. Would anyone endure when his world is evaded?  Apparently, the hermit was almost at the end of their world. He woke from the dream.

Loitering restlessly he saw a petulant hunter – he was in exuberance. How many years passed since he saw a man? “Why did you come to the jungle…to invade the peace?” He asked, “To kill innocent animals?”

“This is my livelihood,” the hunter answered.

The hermit became sad. “I’ve pity for these wretched animals. Those you catch remain lonely and those killed…” The hunter stopped him. “Can anyone be free from death?”The hermit was stunned. “Buddha knew this after contemplating many years. And of loneliness, I ask you, why did you come here?”

“This is my quest for peace and bliss.”

“Where’s this written?” the hunter asked.

“You cannot understand!”

The hunter took a deep sigh. “Yes, we can’t understand the other,” he said walking away.

He was a living soul who divorced the world, sought the Nirvana, and naught else upon this earth. This he would not find until he abandoned seclusion and return to the world, to share people’s joy and sorrow, to dance with the dancers and to weep with those who weep at the corpse. Tranquillity or bliss is not an escape, not a material thing found somewhere but deep within the façade.

Years ago, following Vipashvana, the path shown by Buddha for the Nirvana, he had left his home and came in the jungle. He could have gone to the monastery but he was sceptic which to obey – Mahayana, Hinyana or Vajrayanan. He skipped schism, thinking hermithood was the best option. Pursuing the path of the Buddha, to him, was the epitome of devotion to the Enlightened. But today, he became abreast with the truth, which he had been unable to gain from years of contemplation. Was the hunter messenger of the Buddha?

He walked aimlessly with agile mind. The Buddha had said: Nirvana is the only objective of human’s life. The body as apparent with the eyes, is not the existence, but simply a continuity of energy, and is composed with molecules that would eventually decompose. So, life is sorrow.Away from this sorrow is the Nirvana. He who had discerned about four sorrows, eight-fold path, tried to implement the Buddha’s words, had also studied the three theologies, learned dogma of transient, and contemplated about the Nirvana. More than anything he had strode into the jungle like Buddha himself, but how come the revelation come from the hunter.

The hunter had said – we can’t understand the other. It seemed he imbibed the Buddha more than him, though grisly his living was. There had been blunder somewhere. His coming to the jungle? But how could it be, when Siddhartha himself, living an extravagant life, one night abandoned Rahula and Yashodhara, and walkedinto the jungle. Hankering for worldly pleasure still not reined, he asked himself, and could not admit the desire is acrimonious. Reasons and logic gushing into his mind propelled fatigue.

Suddenly he remembered what he had studied. The basic concepts of Buddhism are simple. You have to know about the Four Nobel Truths and practice the Eightfold Path.

The Four Nobel Truths

There is sorrow in the world

There is a reason for sorrow

There is cessation from sorrow

Nirvana is the ultimate path to get away from sorrow

The Eightfold Path

Righteous view: Correct understandings about the nature of things

Righteous intention: Avoiding attachment, hatred, and harmful intent

Righteous speech: Refraining from verbal violence

Righteous action: Refraining from murder, theft, and sexual misconduct

Righteous livelihood: Avoiding everything that directly or indirectly harm other people

Righteous effort: Abandoning negative thoughts

Righteous mindfulness: Being aware about the mind, body, the phenomena of the world

Righteous concentration: Practicing single-mindedness

*

It was almost mid-day suddenly he fathomed how much famished he was.

Pursuing his lips, he looked at the narrow river. He was at the end of one world, by traversing the river he would reach the hamlet in less than one hour. He was in sixes and seven, two worlds beckoned him – one to live for others and another to live for the self. Is there a mid-way, he asked himself, and unable to find the repartee he went up to the river.Cold water elated him. He washed his face, dabbled with his shirt cuff, and drank water from his cupped palms; thirst slaked but hunger raised hood. Sombrely he turned to face the jungle – it was less intriguing to the mind pre-empting with thoughts abound. He took a long breath, the inner voice said, if you fight a situation you end up being unhappy, if you accept it then you begin to explore new depth. 

He walked towards the settlements.

The Buddha said: this world, living, and non-living included, is transient, also the state of happiness and the ultimate truth is, there is sorrow in the world, joy is an abstract thing. You can tell what makes you morose – your loss, failure and such, but the things that prompt your happiness at one moment could later become the cause of sorrow. A person you love, a reason of joy, someday abandons, giving you pain. You must be happy with not the things you crave for but what you possess. But what do I have?

Human dwelling had begun to appear. He stopped and took some time to think in equanimity, the rights and the wrongs.

After attaining the Nirvana, Siddhartha went to Lumbini, in his one-time abode. Yashodhara appeased by her hubby’s home-coming, though in maroon robes and shaved head, said to her son, “Rahula, he’s your father, let’s welcome him home” Buddha’s repartee come forth with much ado – neither I’m father nor a son, I’m here to see if I  was successful in travelling inside and whether feelings for  wife upsurge in me. Bond of kinship ends after demise but I want to witness it happen.

He saw him, like Buddha, reaching home and saying with alacrity, “We are no one to other; only time and association bring us together. Relationship terminates after death, however, I want to end it outright.” 

Every time, he lurched into enigmatic state, he looked into theologies for answers. Like his fellow countrymen, religion had been his way of life, most of the affairs were wound in the religious beliefs. Born in Hindu family, he found solace in the Buddha. He was still a child when he was inculcated into the cognizance of bliss, material object are not the source of happiness, the entire world is an illusion; the only truth is Atma and Parmatma, Soul and God. This quintessence of Vedic philosophy intrinsically means – giving up is happiness. One of the stories he read in his young age relates, a hermit who had nothing save his body and wisdom, was happier than an emperor. In another fable a poor farmer was joyous than a merchant. Is he happy now – he owns nothing?

Where was he going in this meandering – amongst the people? There was a fray in his mind; a cleavage in-between ignorance and knowledge, but he did not discern which one was which. Distraught, he trotted towards the village.

*

On the hillock, beside a small stream flowing furiously to meet the river, was the hut and isolated from the human settlements. It was small, mud built and straw roofed.Next to it was an animal shed dotted with dung and rubbish. On the kitchen garden adjacent to the hut, there was an old man tilling the earth. The hermit saidNamaste and waited a while. The worn-out man rendered inimical stare, his lips quivered, but spoke no words. Hermit asked for water.

“We are untouchables.” The voice was cold like the air.

“To keep life going is the mantra.”

“Is that easy?” The voicewas devoid of humane feelings. Then he called for his grandson to get water. A small boy wearing only shabby shirt came out with a plastic mug. The hermit drank and turned to the lad, however, he was not there. He put the mug on the ground, and squatted on the ridged earth. The old man coughed and spitted phlegm, it was dotted with red spots. A sickle was hanging on his waist and it swung as he stuck the hoe on the soil. He had wrapped a filthy cloth piece on his waist, once white but now yellow,a half sleeve shirt, waist coat, both patched, and a frayed cap, which had long ago lost its colour. Palms and heels were soiled and cracked, veins poked out from the skin.

“Who else are living here, buba,” the hermit asked.

With the word buba, the old man’s face lightened for a while like oil wicks meant to be extinguished shortly. He looked with humility at the hermit – a Jogi at such a young age – what outlandish pain haunted him; was it greater than his. However, he did not give a second thought on that. “Spouse, grandchildren and a daughter-in-law,” he said, after a short impediment.

Hermit looked at his pasty face, a matrix of wrinkles, and flinched away. On the patio, he saw the same lad playing with piglets – it was difficult to say which one was dirtier. A bottle gourd vine climbed up the roof, on the yard corn was spread to dry. A cock pecked and roamed in the field, it seemed he was searching for his paramour.

He pulled his soiled cap and buffed his face.Lips twitched, it seemed the old man was trying to say something but pent-up melancholia impeded him. The hermit was touched. The skinny man was weeping silently and digging the ground. The man ripped by rain and wind, what befall him at this age making him cry, when they say men don’t cry. 

“What happened, buba?” The hermit tried to elicit sympathy implicitly; untouched, the old man continued digging. The hermit gazed at his work, his stomach went cold, the old man was just fondling with the hoe, dispelling his pains. By making himself occupied he was trying to vitiate sorrow – but can anyone sweep away the agonies and afflictions. He was rehashing truism through trite – at this age he must have clout over his pain.   

“They say son is killed.”Tears zigzagged on his stubbly cheeks but he did not wipe.

The hermit could conjecture nothing as was not voyeur of a kind. Then he heard soft crying. With the strangled cries coming from the hut, wrinkles on old man’s pallid face became deeper. Hearing the goats bleat he stood on his tenuous legs, he was at the point of emaciation, and tip toed to give them fodder. He came back, squatted on the field and took the hoe. Hermit’s stomach churned.

“Only three months ago he came and gave us one thousand rupees. He had said, in a few days he will come again and stay for a weak; that day he was with his friends. But he did not return.” He coughed spitting out a big gob of red spittle. There was no rancour in his hoarse voice. “Just two days back, some men came and informed us atrocious police killed our son. He was sanctified, they said, and will be living for many years. I did not take two thousands rupees, will the money fulfil my son’s absence. But later I knew, wife took it.”

Wailingwas growing insidious. The old man’s son had died young, living behind progenitors, progeny and spouse. The other son had gone to India five years ago, and had not come even for the autumn festivals. People said he was buried under the coal mine; neither compensation nor the official death certificate had come. He had supine attitude believing there would be the return. A rumour of his first son’s demise, he heard years ago, actually was the sign of another loss. Now, the sons were dead, he was desolated to look after the living souls. The people here had abject pain threshold.

“Every time he came, he used to say, some people live luxuriously though they do not work. We labour days and nights, still unable to acquire two course meals. Every one’s blood has the same colour but they consider us untouchables. The government protects them only. I never understood what he meant. Last time he was here, he said, they were near to victory. I was afraid to see bombs and guns but he laughed and fondled like toys.”

The old man tried to smile but he could not. His wrinkles grew deeper.

*

The early wintry morning was foggy. He wore shabby shorts, frayed shirt and was bare foot but his intensive act of chopping a log warmed him. He stopped to respire and wipe perspiration, and then he saw them. At first he had trepidation, he took them as forest guards, he could be jailed or had to bribe. Ironic to his forlorn conjectures, they smiled obsequiously and he was in sixes and sevens. They wore green and black printed cloths, red scarves tied around their neck, green kung-fu shoes and each carried a weapon. Were they army? What had they come for?

 “Are you satisfied with your life?” One of them asked.

Chhabi was in muddle, he could not account how to answer. He fathomed his dire straits but had nebulous idea of life – he knew living, however of life, he could not draw himself nigh. Just a couple of days back, his child died of pneumonia. He tried to borrow money from everyone in the village but in vain. That evening he cried like a child hiding on his wife’s lap. The frail child watched him with his innocent big eyes. They had no land to grow rice, stitching cloths did not pay well, no one hired the untouchables for labour. Even his three years old son understood he should not ask for more food.

“In spite of such tiring work, are you fed or clothed well?” the man resumed.

“No,” Chhabi feigned courage, “many untouchable like us don’t live a good life.”

“Yes! But have you ever thought how we, the poor people, live a happier life,” the other said with much ado. Chhabi shook his head. “Look, I’m kami, he’s sarki, he’s damai, and he’s sunar—we all are untouchables? Chhabi was heartened – the ironsmith, the cobbler, the tailor, the goldsmith. How much gallants they appeared, but pathetic he was.

“They’re obscenely rich so we’re in abject poverty. They amass wealth making shortage in our life. Those capitalists and feudal, think only about their own luxury, it is nothing for them whether we die of hunger or disease,” the speaker’s solemnity zinged with bitterness. This indignation came from the disparity between the two classes.

“When our fate has swindled us, what could we do,” Chhabi tried to look pacified.

“Comrade, don’t give up in despair. We were like you but at present we’re liberated. No one dares to call us untouchables these day, they have to pay for it. We have learned to make life better,” the other man purred.

“We’re working to establish a government of poor and suppressed people. The capitalists and feudal, despot, oppressor, tyrant are our enemies. We’ll kill everyone who is against our people and destroy everything to till the society for new sprout. We won’t abate our strife until we achieve success. If we survive we’ll get the liberation, if we die, we’ll be bestowed with martyrdom.” The third man ruffled Chhabi’s hair. The reasons were made explicit in the homily.

Killing, dying, destroying – Chhabi trembled. Wind howled and snapped, now he felt how cold the morning was. In the deep forest, engulfed by people speaking perilous things – a tingle passed along his spine, he was aghast. This life is wretched but would it anyway ameliorated if he joined them.

“You need not be afraid, we’ll train you.”

“What am I supposed to do,” Chhabi asked, though he was thinking of an escape.

“Looting the banks and rich people, destroying the governmental offices, killing police.”  

Chhabi took a deep breath, morning breeze enlivened him spurring his courage. He cleared his throat. “Well, that’s right but I’m ignorant. I fear killing and looting, you may be correct on your part but let me do my work.” He began to collect faggot.

Their touting failed, they stood whispering for a while watching him tie the mounds of wood. Chhabi got up and weighed the load. The men were gawking at him. Then of sudden two of them came forward. “Don’t be afraid,” the leader ranted. Chabbi looked on his sides, guns were aimed. “Our commander has given you a call.” Chhabi watched his face to catch every nuance. The man jerked placing his steps on dried leaves, behind him was Chhabi tugged between two men. Where are we going, he wanted to ask, but was strangulated, he was already limp at the hands of armed men.

*

The old man was relenting cries. Life is not as beautiful as it seems to be, it is the cohesive group of affliction agonies, sorrows. The hermit left the old man and walked, knowing not his destination. He had two options, one to take the meandering path back to jungle and another to ramble on the dusty country road.He indulged on the later, and it was not a whim. After years of penance, he longed to scrutinize the people and their lives – probably, he would have efficacy to ooze out cognizance.

Time is the nutrition for knowledge – past, present, and future – in three dimensions it adds verisimilitude to our thoughts, which amend, sustain, or vanish with its acceleration. Time enshrouds the universe, which is created or annihilated within its vastness. In the time parlance feeble humans are circumscribed. The changes surfacing the world floats on the endless middle, there is no beginning or the end. People revolve within the circumscription and flirt with the erudition. Those deductions are mentor for the laymen; they narrate the words of pundits, juxtaposing themselves, and say they are living a life. Reinforcing the thoughts and actions of past, we fix the future then, are we living on the time elapsed, are we the creatures of yesteryears. The conundrum is worth valuing, we need to come out of this labyrinthine. Really, do we need to harvest past to be alive in the present and manoeuvre into the future? A pursuit of present, the bleak future, and the past, indispensable one in this hierarchy, is the truth of every sentient man. Someone has said life is acting – the truth we suppress and illusions we take care – is this the acting?

One of the palatable truths we try to explore says tiny objects are more powerful than rigid. Soil is prolific than the rock because it is less rigid. Water zings with more energy than soil and air is stupendous than water. Velocity of light has more oomph than air, electricity is minute compared to light and power of thoughts is tremendous than electricity. The world cannot be engulfed in the rigidness; it emanates the empire of minuteness. Conglomeration of rigidity and minuteness indeed, is the world. Life has propensity to the world such that it also cannot be apprehended to a particular judgment, scores of savants have shed light upon this, and we venture on their fecundity.

He stopped to respire.Persistent walking and thinking exhausted him, though was enraptured for his journey had ended,at least for some time,he was at the contour of the hamlet, engrossed completely inside. Then he espied a young man on crutches, walking cantankerously. The hermit smiled with humility but the man laughed vindictively. “Aha! Here is a vagrant, but the villagers are poor,” he said, “let me see how much money the bum has collected.”

Thinking it only the red herrings, the hermit was poised, untouched by stream of invectives. He looked at the chiselled face, stark different to his callous comments, and incisively felt the need of conciliatory attitude. He cast a sedate glance at the young man, instead he smiled impishly. “Why you escaped from life,” he asked appearing as sarcastic as he could be, “you’d have found meaning, if you had faced gallantly. I did, and I’ve lost my leg. But I’m happy.” The young man looked at the distant horizon. “Coward,” he huffed without looking at the hermits visage, his tone this time did not appear sass, it was poignant. Once a sanguine man, everything had been washout at present. He flinched and walked away in crutches.

“What are you hiding in your façade,” the hermit asked.

“I’m alive; considering the kinds of circumstances I was in, not everybody can be as lucky as I am,” the young man answered without turning his head.

*

He had seen war, the war between the Maoist and the State, very closely. But he had never imagined it will come into his house. He had come to his village for spring break but it was going to be a nightmare.

The night was hushed and dreadful. Men in fatigues, laden with weapons, red badges over their collars, appeared violent in the dim light of kerosene lamp.

“You won’t donate to our war, no? The commander asked sharply. 

The patriarch of the house was a stubborn man, though believed in social utopia demurred the idea of insurgency. There was parliamentary democracy in the country and he believed Communism had nothing to dowith the welfare of people, and was tenacious not to give anything for the mutilation. He had spent a decade in underground; the previous despotic establishment had apprehended, tortured and imprisoned him for eighteen months. He had fought against absolute monarchy and was hopeful about democracy taking firm roots in the society. But in his later life his sense of duty and responsibility got better of him; bipolar disagreement in the Party spurred to extricate him. His thirty years in active politics meant nothing for the boys barely twenty.

His son himself was a pinko, studying in a college, in Kathmandu. Apart from his pursuits of erudition he always ruminated about the urban flotsam – the wretched people on river banks, bums on the sidewalks, and tramps in the city centre. The child scavengers, shabby and famished people fuelled his exasperation against the system, the elite, and the polity. Little girls as young as 16 waiting for customers in the late evening provoked the rebel in him.He had his own dream, stark to what these people had, he thought them as the ones who conscripted unwilling and innocent people to their illicit warfare. That was no way to survive in the village.

“We want you to work for our Party.”

The lady of house started crying. The militants wanted a man when financial reinforcement was refused. Father was 50 plus, and they wanted him. Smouldering with rage, the son felt like a eunuch. There was no question to deny those obstinate men; he agreed to walk with them in the night of November. Three days and two nights, walking with heavy rucksack stuffed with grenades and arms cache, they reached their training base. In the dense forest disparate group of boys and girls were ordered to dig trenches. They had to run many miles, climb the rocks, swing in the ropes and hit the target; were taught to makes bombs, lay electric ambush and fire weapons. And deify the leaders. Low sprit and guilt dovetailed into him as being forced to become a murderer. He remembered himself queuing in the Royal Nepal Army headquarter and flinched away with pain – he was rejected, for he had no connections. But here, myriad subterfuge shrouded him, he felt duped.

And one day a chopper flew over the hideouts. The commander ordered them to take position saying the area was under their control, including the airfield. The skirmish was appalling, cries of injured people were lost in the shrill of firing. Inside the bunker, spines tingling, he fired and waited about the dubious normalcy. He knew not how long the turbulence was but when his sense came back one of his legs was bandaged. Around were the injured boys and girls; blood and cries – the pong was nauseating. He saw sly smile on commander’s face.

“That was the enemies’ retreat and the first success of this batch.” The statement was didactic. Masquerading disgust, he tried to see the people surrounding him, it was tiring, he wanted to go to oblivion. There was something sinister, the people were whispering. He tried to read their lips and surmised he had become useless.

“You could go home,” the commander said, and strode to the exit.

He knew deliverance was still a distant dream. His burnished dream, akin to a flower floating in a river, he tried to catch but despicable designs smote him.

*

The hermit traversed the dusty path, littered with dung and trash. Devoured young man had swayed without letting him to utter any pragmatism. He walked towards the first house he saw. Life, he was trying to assess, was he able to acquire any knowledge after years of penance, or his quest of truth ends in the human settlements? Truth converges when life is wrenched, but what is life to be precise? Thinkers have promulgated, life is the distance between cradle and cemetery, that is, the empty space between genesis and annihilation. Life is juxtaposed with the world brimming with lives. World means this earth, the dais of life force, a silent part of the universe. No other planet in the solar system has emanated strong evidence of life force. Still, this definition doesn’t satiate us, it goes beyond the limit of planets, stars, and heavenly bodies. To elucidate this, they have drawn a tangent line over the life, the earth, the world and the universe.

The house looked deserted though chicken were pecking, goats were tied to the pole on the yard and a waterbuffalo was cud chewing inside the shade. The hermit waited someone to show up, he did not call for he had not come to see anyone in particular. He just wanted to deem people’s lives with mysteries abound. The door was closed, he shuffled around the house, no one was there. He sat on the patio. It was afternoon, soon the night, a prominent obscurity, would lurch. Obscurity, the root sensation of the sentient universe, is the gist of life, from where peace emerges, and denunciation to the light, without which quest for knowledge would not embark.Prudent man and the vigilant universe are in the womb of obscurity. Inside the closed eyes is the perpetual darkness, where divine light appears slowly; before the open eyes is the falsified light vanishing into the profound darkness. Obscurities, the mother of luminosity, inhere, in the life, in the world.

We, a flimsy page of time, are in the void.Filling our fist with glimmer, we sprinkle light, though the dark does not disappear. How could a molecule of light vanquish its own father? Light in fragments, plays hide and seek,harbouring into dark from the supremacy of light and landing into the brightness from the empire of dark is duress for the people and the earth. Duress? Let’s not say duress, its a probable way to assent the darkness.

Its no use waiting people to come, the hermit thought and walked away. The path was hogged, pigs and dogs were eating faeces; hens pecked on dung and trash, they were wary of a man. He walked swerving from the puddles and garbage and then, he saw people. Women, loquacious at the well, were filling mud pitchers, others were washing clothes in the canal. A small girl was defecating on the sidewalk, a boyurinating on the puddle. A drunken man almost bumped into while the hermit watched merry making children in the canal. Men, women, and children were everywhere, albeit, he was confused where to be nigh.

Then he heard cacophony on the yard of a house. The hermit was being frivolous as he plugged himself into the throng. Voices became sluggish for the villagershad noticed the sanctified man – they gave him a way into the gathering. There he saw a corpse obtruded on the ground and covered with white cloth. It was Harka Bahadur’s dead body waiting for cremation. His wife, surrounded by women, was dishevelled, cadaverous, face soiled and looking very old.  

*

It was early morning when heart wrenching wailing erupted from a house. Someone with lumps on the throat cried, “Harke drank poison.”

The news spread like a famished fire. The villagers – old and young, men and women – gathered in the house. Harka Bahadur was nauseating, palpitation was faint, breathing very low. “Make him drink soapy water,” an old man with uncountable pleats over the face said. A little girl rushed into the house and came out with toilet soap and a water jug. When men began to prepare the laxatives, a boy decided to cycle to the telephone booth, one hour away. “We must call at the hospital and ask them to send ambulance,” he said.

“How’s the road, can it come?”

“A jeep can.”

One of the men proposed to carry Harka to the hospital but his idea was immediately debunked; the town was four hours away in walking distance. There used to be a health post in the nearby village but was no use these day, it was bombed.

The man who answered the call at the hospital was errant; this being a police case they must report the police first, he suggested. Police on the other hand was less pragmatic over the line so the boys had to run errand to the district police station in the town. There was a police beat in the village bazaar sometime back, but one night it was raided, all three policemen got killed.

“Where?” The sergeant asked.

“Nimurya village.”

“Where’s Nimurya?”

“Close to Rampur.

“Rampur?” He jerked, “We can’t go there; do you think our three-nought-three will stand against theirs Kalashnikovs? Ask the paramilitary police to escort us.” 

They went to the Armed Police Force. “We’re formed to fight terrorism. Go to the CDO.” There was no leeway other than going the district office. The Chief District Officer was uninterested;he even did notdeign to look at them from the files he was lumbering with. “I’m only a civil servant, ask the army,” he said.

The village boys went to the Royal Nepal Army. They were stopped at the barricades, hundred meters away from the gate of the barrack. From sentry to the man at the gate, then to the public relation office, accretion of their plight was stripped off. Then they got the permission to see the colonel.

“Nothing can happen without our help, but why do they say we’re abusing Human Rights?”Insanity kindled, he laughed wildly.

When the boys reached their village, it was twilight, and the antecedent day had been mere squandering. The dusk was embarking, night would be cold. Wretched Harka Bahadur’s corpse lay on the yard. He had killed himself because he had huge debts, was suffering from chronic disease, daughter eloped with a person whom he detested most, bread winner son was killed in a crossfire, wife waited for kidney operation for which he had no money, andhe was coerced daily to donate for the “People’s War.” The bust living was loathsome.

The villagers decided to cremate the dead body another day, they could not make a pyre when the darkness enveloped the riverside. They were still discussing the possibilities when the armed men patrolling the village came. In the yellow slanting light, fire band men were apt to be ferocious.

“Did you take the corpse to the hospital for post-mortem?”

“………..”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Eighty percent of this country is under our rein, but the enemies are relinquishing with their day dream.” There was ostentations display of cynicism in the tone. The stunned villagers knew how to play safe. Safety was all about remaining mum. They were fallen into the void, their mouth shut.

“Who is he?” one of the men in fatigue asked, making everyone promptly look at the direction he pointed. The hermit felt little awkward. “Who are you?” The man asked showing overt anger, “Are you enemy’s spy?” Hermit was about to open his mouth but suddenly another man aimed a rife at him.

Though he tried to suppress, the hermit was perturbed. “I’ve left my home in search of peace,” he said.

“A jogi!” The armed men gave deep throated laugh. Villagers, who knew how to avoid being the dissents’ fodder, were quiet.

“Comrade Aago, he must be a bhogi,” another said.

“No, I’ve given up worldly pleasure, I’m an ascetic,” the hermit replied prudently.

“Comrade Aago, I’ve heard these days our foes are sending their spies in disguise, he must be one of them.”

“Alright, let’s take him to our commanders,” Aago said, his words acrimonious was cognate with his name, the fire.  There was no question of refuting; the situation had prompted the hermit to become a docile man. He staggered with them towards the jungle above the village, not the linearity of one from where he came from. In the yellowed light dense green foliage seemed like quivering its lips, a stream hid somewhere below the rocky trail, wishy-washy mountain walls stood brazen, stones were mud coloured, a plume of mist resembled the steam from a tea-cup. The ornate things were reverting. He stretched himself balancing into the impertinence of the trail, like the tree from where a bird flew scaling the hill they were to ascent.

In the journey of legs, head too was requisite, many things jumbled inside mind. Legs were striving with dead leaves, grass, and moss; cobwebs scattered on the hedges of unknown path were mind’s picture. Forking the sky, three hills stood opulently. Old trees, numb with cold were wrapped with thick accretion. A lizard crawled and hid under a boulder, falling of a leaf was edifice of explosion; splashing and gurgling was disembodied. A litter further, he saw bamboo pipe struck into the hill wall, a water pipe for natural spring.  Stream flowing parallel, was nowhere to be seen; trees were everywhere but it would be a whim to match them in shape and size.

A sapling stood like a man standing obstinately on the path and refusing to let them pass. The overhanging branch, beckoned him to hug, behind was another, like a maiden adhered to her skin. Footsteps were intent upon destroying the peace, however, the whistling trees seemed like they were challenging the cognizance of mankind. On the turning, a rock beneath the hill appeared like a woman, her head tugged between her knees, and waiting for her beau, after wishing a farewell. It seemed, in the imagination of merry life, wishing forgood fortune, the woman waited her paramour gone to a distant land. She was into the profundity, forming a foundation oftogetherness, filling her emptiness with the prominence of love. 

The silence was epithet of peace.Hills were hushed nonetheless caterpillars and grasshopper were busy. The trees did not let to envision the trail ahead, darkness lurched into them, one was lying brazenly, hogging the narrow path, it would not let him to creep under, and to jump over was wary idea. Birds squeaked on the trees, air coming out from the mouth was similar to the fire-wood smoke. In the altitude cold came soon, it had an exquisite taste. Monkey rasped trying to scare them. The men filled with bland silence looked dark,quite contrast to the hermit plugged into reverie.

Aago pranced, remembering his picaresque odyssey.  “Once during a ferocious war I’d met the khuireni. Our area commander ordered me to talk to her as no other person in our platoon could speak English. You know, I’d studied up to eighth grade.” He stopped to look back his comrade, whether they were listening.“We were in a temporary camp at Harnok and the imperialist were trekking to Pyuthan. They said some developmental work, but do you think anyone would believe them. We held them until we received order of their release from high command. Three days they were with us.”

“You talked, no?”

“In the evening after our meal I sat facing her, in the moon light. She had many things to say apart from what I knew. That was the time when I was listening to someone who had really something new and daring. I tried to light a lantern but she stopped saying, no artificial light. I felt little awkward, like a wretched novice I asked her why she came here.”

“What she said, comrade?”

“Buddha and peace.”

“Buddha and peace?”

“Yes!” Aago enunciated and struggled to capture the image of a white lady. He swallowed, she was so beautiful.

“Buddha transformed cannibal Angulimala into a monk,”the hermit said loudly.

The armed men turned back giving a start, eliciting loathing they continued walking. The sun in the west, like those men, appeared fatigued after covering the great distance. Jungle was getting thicker, everywhere was stillness, the only noise was made by the water falling over a cliff. The hermit integrated in himself in the nuance and emanated pacifism in his soul, quite discrepancy in the reality, with the reality of armed men ushering him to their hideouts.

“Our newly recruited cadre Hari seemed to have been impressed. He repeated her words for three days.

“What?”

“You don’t have to quest for peace, its around you.”

“What’s that?”

“She had said before leaving this country she would go to Swayambhu and feed pigeons and monkeys, and light butter wicks, under the Eyes of Truth,”

“Why?”

“I hated her. She goes into the monastery and light lamps before metal Buddha and does not mind a hawk grabbing the pigeon. Those eyes on white stupa mean peace and compassion, but hungry and ragged resembled stone. The steel heart imperialists. Does anyone have water?”

Someone handed him water bottle.His parched throat did not seem to heal. “I didn’t know what Hari meant when he enumerated her word.”

“What did he say?”

“And suddenly, he disappeared. Later news came – he had surrendered to the enemy. After two months of his release from Bhairabnath barrack, we met him at his home in Gunsa. The enemies had broken his legs though he had gone in their refuse.”He closed his eyes trying to dispel the scene. He had fired three shots – one on his knee, other on abdomen, and finally on forehead. In one hour time the callow youth perished. He sighed deep, the moon was already in the sky, and it was full and blooming.

It was full moon night but not the Baishakh Purnima when Mayadevi gave him birth, Sujata fed him rice pudding, and Chunda offered him meal. The three full moons – birth, attaining super consciousness, and great demise – are the epithets of Buddha, connotations of metamorphosis from baddha, ignoramus, to Buddha, the enlightened. Was the Buddha looking over these shabby men. Aeons back the Buddha too, had failed to stop the massacre of his clan. A king from Kosal had invaded Kapilvastu, torched the city, and mutilated Shakyas. That was the retribution against Shakyas’ mischief; they had weeded his father with a slave. The vengeance came from the son of a slave. The Buddha was able to avert war for three times but eventually failed on the fourth attempt.

The hermit saw the enlightened one sitting cross legged beneath a tree, eyes half closed and the divine aura. Aum Mani Padme Hum – Jewel in Lotus ! Appo Dipo Vawa – be light onto yourself.

*

The oracle has it, the world is a battle field and the human are fighters. Humans fight two kinds of wars, the innerand the outer. Those who are able to routs opponents are immortal and losers are soon ducked into oblivion. Apropos ordinary warriors, the motive of war has nothings to do with them, they fight for others.Zillions are reined by few. The myriad of everyday people achieve victory by sacrificing themselves, dispelling the conundrum of their existence, without imbibing the truth they are vanquished. Each day wars are broken, warriors produced, with their help aggrandizement consolidated, hitherto, those imbecile warriors are displaced. The Pawns protect bishops, knight, castle, queen, and the king, and are the predilections for victory; however, they reach coup the grace.They are doomed, they have to go to the war to satiate the dissents, play with the tune of prigs, and finally draw into the black hole of time and this is their fate.

To unveil the erudition, we have to ruminate about the time elapsed – we, our earth and our universe. The past carry events abound, nevertheless, very little are etched and these are the sagas of conquest. The subalterns traverse the podium of abject sacrifice.This strife, mental and physical, behind the façade of mankind, is a social ramification. And it is all written in the context of winner, leaving no room for the losers. Winners are never baleful, looser are always antagonist. This is the dictum of the world and it manoeuvres this way.  

*

Left alone with two oxen, Kale and Sete, in a day showering cats and dogs, he was under a chhatri ploughing the muddy fields, as deft as he could be. His hands and feet were mud stink. Transplanted tiny rice plants and the hills had thin green foliage, but he was jittery to accept the serene nature. Heavy rain, legs stepping in sludge and the plough – he could hear nothing apart. Others were warming cosily in their house while his family was still limping with the work, hastening on the master’s rice field, and were wary thinking about theirs.  They had no freedom to work on theirs without being done with master’s farm. When will he be able to plant rice on his field, possibly not this year. And the fact overtly aggravated him. Few minutes ago his sister-in-law came with the meal; they would finish planting rice in other farm in less than an hour, she had said. He had to till this rice field before they came for transplanting. 

He had not given a damn when he spotted three men in the distance but now they pranced on his side.They wore rain coats, and wellingtons, and red band was tied over their forehead. One of them placed his hand on Biraj’s shoulder. “Biraj, you work very hard, but life anyway better?” He purported to be a saviour.

Biraj was evasive, his mind was zonked to articulate words. He was angry with no one particularly and spewed wrath on black and white oxen.”You wretch! Why don’t you trot fast, huh?” He yelled hitting the poor animals with a bamboo stick. The faces were new and he wondered how they knew his name. One of them took the handle of plough. “Kale, Sate,” he ranted and began to plough the rice field. Other took the hoe and scrapped the ridged earth. Biraj watched men at work, they seemed skilled. The third man who stood abreast looked into Biraj’s face. “We’re the friends of labourers and farmers. You don’t say day and night, rain or shine, but one day the owner of this land takes half you’ve grown.” The discrepancy was obvious. “Rich people are leech, they suck our blood. Many people are poor but few rich men are harvesting benefits. They make us work like an ass only to make their life lavish.”

How anyone like me could feed himself without working for rich people—Biraj thought, and did not discern what these men were intent upon. The late afternoon was grim, sun was enshrouded by the monsoon clouds. The entire morning his brother tilled the land, when he went to see the irrigation on the other farm, Biraj took the handle of the plough, he meekly swallow his brother’s words. He was tired scraping the ridges of the farm in the morning. When one does not own enough land to ameliorate his family he has to endure this, he tried to reason. 

“It’s true every one must work but does your master work in his farm. Apart from giving half what you have grown, you do his household work. Does he remunerate you?” The man scraping the terrace quipped reading Biraj’s obtuse mind. “Have you ever thought being abused by those absorbent feudal.” He gave the hoe to the man standing and strained Biraj to the corner of the terrace and solemnly placed his hand around his shoulder. “We’re working for the liberation of suppressed and ostracize people.”

Biraj did not fathom the word liberation, he stared blank. The man continued, “On this land you’re working since many years, no? This is your own land which the sly feudal confiscated. Generations ago your ancestor made this land habitable and established settlement. In spite of your hard work, you’re not well paid, fed or clothed. Also, you’ve loan in the bank and heavily indebted to the master. If you go on spending your life in such way do you think you’ll ever be relieved.”

Yes, they bore liabilities, and his master was a welt in their life, year by year he added interest. Time and again, he thought of an escape, notwithstanding, his family was bonded to the landlord. His younger siblings were master’s lackey, working down to dusk but debt never cleared. This year they suffered a lot, his sister broke her leg while cutting fodder for master’s animal and yet, the master refused to pay for the treatment. They had to spend money meant for fertilizer. Fertilizer was indispensable to cultivation and now they had no money.

The one at the plough stood before him. “Join us, we’ll help you, we’re working for poor people. In few years time we’ll take the reins of the country, then government would be ours, the country would be ours, and we’ll live a cosy life. You’re not alone, there’re many people like you. Do not be selfish, our brothers and sisters need us. We too come from the family like yours. Come, you’ll be a salient part of our revolution. People like you have supported us.”

When he worked for them, who would work for his family – won’t be there unrest, what if he is caught. No, he lacks requisite courage, the rule of poor and suppressed people was fecund idea, though. Confused, he gazed at Kale and Sete.

“We’ll annihilate our enemies, loot money, and grains and allot to the poor people. The government, the leaders, the police, the army, the banks – everything are against the poor people. We must sabotage the archaic system and establish our government, our police, our army, our banks – everything ours. Our men are spread throughout the nation, you need not to fear. We have to ravage this system.”

They were hushed for a while, there was no rebut from Biraj. The dreadful silence akin to the unity of opposite hauled and snapped turbulently. A thin air blew making imbalance of his chhatri on his head. This heavy rain is good omen for the paddy, Biraj thought. 

*

Aago sniffed the cold evening air, it was refreshing the sky is clear and moon is bright – good omen for the night attack, he thought. He looked at his men, they were adhering silence, may be they were assessing the gravity of the situation– firing, explosions, cries, bloods, deaths, and then the victory. He was in muddle, had their plan been leaked, however, the strong conviction dispelled the confusion, only their best men knew about it. Suddenly he remembered the man they had caught in the village, possibly the spy. It had been a good idea to hold him, the espionage foiled. Soon they will be in their temporary camp, where their platoon commander and fighters were preparing the assault; the attack depended on his final report and he had come with a fortuitous message. 

Yet, before the man was submitted to the commander, there must be an inquiry. He turned back. “How much do you know about the plan.”

“What plan? I had to gone to the village in the afternoon.”

Aago aimed an automatic gun sending the hermit into spasm. “Who are you, where do you live, what were you doing in the village?” The hermit watched the man. “What do you fear of?” Aago was slackened, his men were listening. “I had abandoned my abode for the Apostle of Peace.”

“Peace?” Aago considered him eccentric. He gave a deep throated laugh, in the dark evening it sounded belligerent. “War has beckoned us; we are attacking an army barrack tonight. To talk about peace is obsolescence.”

The men were psyched. “How much weapons are we going to acquire comrade,” one of them inquired.

“At least six hundred guns from those six hundred enemies,” another answered.

“Are we looting banks and torching administration and revenue offices?”

“Boys, we are seizing the town, can you imagine how much it means.”

Aago was not lured into the extraneous talking, he strode, his men and the hermit followed. The hermit concentrated and tried to recollect himself, suddenly paralytic tremor held him – there will be a shamble. Peace is hypocritical allegory here, was it avertable. The situation was ironic, he, who walked away for peace was going to witness war– has it been liken the quest of musk dear. Where is peace, where?

Savants have said: fire, water, air, sky, and earth, the five elements, make the human body and also the infinite universe. Plume of fire vibrates, water apt to flow, air blows, celestial bodies float in the sky, earth rotates and revolves.  Creation is destroyed if they remain hushed. A seed sowed, grows peacefully only after a fight with the soil. Even the earth carries lava, peace comes after the eruption. Breathing and heart beat, and the zinging thoughts usher a man away from peace – peace nowhere inside, nowhere outside.

Was it a mistake to sway away from home in search of peace? No-no this was an odyssey of truth, his own truth. 

A small child was inculcated not to touch the fire. The inanity of children is like blank paper, without any understanding, where ink must be spread to create words, words which are the mines of our knowledge. It has been rightly said – Sabda Brahma, word is God. If the child was to fathom this, why would he need to grow up? He placed his finger in the fire and pulled outimmediately. People gathered to his cries and blurted invectives. The child kept wailing and finally understood; an experience is needed to imbibe the truth. The child was the hermit’s dawn, in the day, his quest of being became his truth. This was his twilight, it was murky.

He had to assume, it was not a dream. On the patio of a worn-out hut, he spotted a squatting child, and crying as if laden with the sorrows of the entire world. He went near, ruffled his hair. “What’s the matter, my dear?”

The child looked with eyes brimming with tears, around him were chunked toys. “People have marooned me” he said in his childish voice.

A smug smile came over his lips. “I’m here to appease you.”

The child was encased with brightness of morning sky. But in a short interlude he became morose. “You with gun in your hand,” he said. A chilling tingle passed along his spine, the child was glaring him. He felt something warm seeping inside, his steeled depth began to melt. Then, a soft but clear voice reined him. It said, “You try to be either a savage or God but never crave to be a perfect human.”

That was the last night he spent in his home. He had seen a stone and found it to be only a stone, now he wished to find a statue in it; a man was only an ignorant creature, but now he wanted to find God in him. In the faint light he looked his wife, his children, his house, and strode into the darkness. He knew, prince Siddhartha, stripped off his royal robes, had kissed Yashodhara, caressed Rahula and silently left the palace.

*

When they reached their base camp, hundreds of men had gathered. Under the floods of lights from the trucks the leader was extolling the war. “Are we ready?” He asked loudly. The multitude frenzied by dissemination lifted their weapons in uproar. Aago went to him and laid out his plan, there was a pandemonium as the top bosses discussed. Caught by two men, the hermit watched the din from a distance. They are going to the war, he said to himself, the commander had boosted their morale, they were ready for the massacre.

Long-long ago, in the Kuruchhetra, lord Krishna said, “Arjuna, you kill these people or not they would surely die, death is inevitable to each living. Turn inside, you’ll see this war happening there.”

On the battle field of Kuruchhetra, war was encased in new meaning. Life is the war in Kuruchhetra, men are warriors. Humans are gagged with war, but look at the irony, most of the people will be losing, because they do not find Krishna, the leader of the Holy Crusade, Krishna who bestowed the mankind with Gita.To him, victory or defeat, war or peace, were only the duties of mankind. In his detached perception, men were fighting with themselves, so it was his victory, it was his defeat, it was his war and it was his peace. He was the knower of life and death. The war of Kuruchhetra was within him. And it is said, Krishna in his another incarnation was the Buddha. Krishna had fought perennial wars in his life-time and the Buddha had predilection for peace.

In the cold night amongst the flood of warriors, an inference came over his mind: Jagat Mithya, Bramha Satya, the world is illusion, God is the truth.  The hermit squinted into the light, he saw coloursspreading around, and this enlightened his conscience. Yet there was a shadow under the light where he saw his truth. That evening nothing prolific to mingle, he tugged his nerve cells and drained his brain – Satyam, Shivam, Sundharam, the gyan, the satya – the very ethos of dharma. Gyan, the knowledge, satya, the truth – Satyam Shivam Sundaram – Shiva is truth, and truth is beautiful. During the creation of the nation, Shiva incarnated in a lotus, that is the place where, Swayambhunath, one of the sanctified shrines of the Buddha, casts the mankind with his eyes, the eyes of truth.

The hermit was left with few men in the jungle. The armed men were slicing cow carcass, there were pitchers of alcohol around, caldrons were on the fire stoves. He plopped down watching the men envisaging the revelries.

*

He was flying in the profound sky, above the mosaic of green hills, shimmering white mountains, magnificent rivers, beautiful flowers and graceful animals. On the hill, a lass was leading a caravan of sheep, a man stood gazing his rice field, basking in the autumn sun. He wanted to ask, darling, how prolific the animals are; my dear, old man, how do you feel now that earth has grown gold? 

On the river he saw a suspension bridge, how forlorn it was. He flew over a hamlet that looked lugubrious, it seemed time stopped there. And another village. There was a temple and a monastery, and he wished to be with those highlanders who though enshrouded in penury live with alacrity. Those men drink their beer with peppers and onion, he wanted to have the vicarious thrill. There might be an amorous man smiling boisterously at every woman. The plum women with red checks would say, oh grand pa, we can count your hair but not the wrinkles. In the bar there would be a voluptuous girl luring old and young alike, he longed to see her dance. The vivacious women would flirt with the water sprouts and flowers, he wished to be spurred by the tenor of their explicitness.  

Into the thick clouds he was enlivened, he felt like crying, laughing, dancing. The multitude of clouds tried to perplex him; are there any holes on these drapes, he sought to see the valley below for the poetic meanderings. Aha! How beautiful were those green terraces, yellow belt and little hamlet,red or white mud-washed houses. He wished to go there and talk to those merry making children, the hard working people. In the school, the students would ask, sir what’s a computer, and the deft teacher would show them a picture and they would ask, can it cut grass or control animals in the pasture. People would repose in the tea shop and talk about foibles of their son, and their daughter who are rogue. But where have they gone.

A little bird was frightened when he tried to touch it. He had always wanted to be like those beautiful creatures and here he was with them. He turned to see the sky. Oh God! There were eagles and vultures, were they glaring him or at the desolated village. It had always been heartening to watch village youth playing football, where are they now? The mountains, the hills, the jungle, and the streams were flirting with sun and air but where were those men tilling the field, women sowing the seeds, girls cutting grass, boys herding cattle.

Maybe he was flying high, his swiftness made the village appear blur, he wanted to see it in full swing. The collage smelled like fresh canvas – the water, the mountain, the trees, so pure so sweet, and the earth, his earth. Oh, what was that? He smelled smoke – what, the burning mountain? What did he hear few second ago? He must fly lower. Oh God! What do I see – the hills and rivers redden, and the thirst for man’s blood.

A tenuous hold of life brought him back, he found himself tied to a tree. The tree had always been requisite for the contemplation of truth. Quintessence of Vedic philosophy says the world is transposed tree. Scores of sages have oozed out cognizance beneath the tree, including the Buddha.

*

One day his friend persuaded him for fishing where he heard Siddhartha’s words, “Oh Devbrat, the one who saves life has the ownership over the life not the one who kills it.” Going for a dance he felt Suddhon ushering Siddhartha to the ball, watching the pelvic trust of dancers he saw Siddhartha lulled into sleep. The dancers, irked by the prince’s reluctance, slept on the stage. The dance he was watching concluded and there Siddhartha woke up only to be aggravated by the flaunting of midriff and cleavage.

His trader father brought him extravagant gift. He felt Siddhartha becoming more distressed with the opulence of royal life. Father died of old age his frail mother unable to sustain grief fainted. Siddhartha had once asked his chariot driver, do I have to grow old, be ill, and finally die. The driver answered, yes your highness, you too, will be old and eventually have to abandon this beautiful body, the one who takes birth has to die.

He had become insular, his wife asked, “Honey why don’t you tell me what worries you.” Yashodhara had asked, “Your highness, why are you so sad.”

Siddhartha, meditating under a tree became the Buddha. The knowledge, Siddhartha had acquired was pouring over him. Siddhartha attained the Nirvana and he, enlightened by the Buddha’s revelation, was entering into the very depth of the enlightened one. He was a man who renounced the world torn asunder, to enjoy wholly and without interruption.

*

Miles away there was a big explosion, it shook the earth but the hermit was not living there.

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