Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The inevitable

Swathed in light blue, the skies laughed as God and Devil stepped lightly over the clouds. The nimbus dipped oh-so slightly and spread themselves to grasp the wide feet of the God and Devil. Carpet of the heavens...Have you felt the loveliness of a child's breath on your neck? Have you? You might then share the smile and joyous tears that the nebulous white shed in the sheer bliss of holding the Divine pair. Young thunderclouds flexed their bellies and stitched together frivolous tufts with the needle of the bolt in order to prevent the Pair from falling. The older scanty clouds smiled benevolently at the knowledge that falling and floating were but Divine will. Larks and hawks darted between the fingers of the Devil and the hawk fed on the slower bird on the palm of God. The Devil smiled and the hawk flew away with the remains. The blood mixed only with the rains of the younger clouds. The older clouds knew that none would remain through the distance of space and time to the rock hard earth and let the blood flow through.

It was early noon and the Pair was above the sun. What fed the sun couldn't be affected by it. They were involved in a deep discussion about the inevitable and the cupidity of the human mind to ensure the working of their will.

"Brother, tell me why did you let them think if you never wanted them to will?" asked the Devil. He snapped his fingers around a beam of sunlight and lo! out flew a skylark.
"Isn't it fun to watch them quibble over their petty lives which is but ephemeral? I was afraid someone would read this man's words and start ruining the fun."
"You are at once gracious as you are wicked. No wonder people worship you."
"That is something we will return to on another day, my dearest brother, but why do I sense a tinge of envy in you?"
"Dear brother don't you know that although envy is attributed to my ways, I have no reason to be envious." He smiled and turned around after catching God's frown.
"So in the matter of the inevitable, what is your say?"
"I feel that you create the inevitable, and I create the human will and the human folly is always in pitting the ways of yours with mine and often confusing one for the other."
"Bravo! Bravo! Well said, oh king of the spoken word! In all the kind words that I can utter and in all the truth I might speak, when have my words danced a tango like in yours?"
"And you wonder why I have no reason to be envious?"
"Let us put a human mind to test. Are you interested?"
The Devil saw the setting sun shake its head in despair. How many days had the sun been audience to God's tests? Did the sun shine brightly with the hope of sheltering the ways of the God from the human eye? Such a loyal servant of the God can only redeem such pitiable truths by burning itself and not uttering a single cry, thought the Devil.
"The day is yours, brother. Can Time stop you?"
God swelled with pride and tossed a subservient cloud farther into space where the luscious blue precipitates to darker and gloomier shades.
"Come. Let's go."
As they walked amongst markets full of men and women they watched several people swear by the name of God and curse a shrewd bargainer as the Devil's child. The Pair smiled, but for different reasons.

As they walked past the shops into the settlement along the banks of the Danube, God clapped his hands and every human pair of eyes looked heavenward at the young thunderclouds.
"I know what we'll do. There lives a man and his wife out there. Both of them are known widely for their charitable ways. Its his day today. You know what I mean?" he winked at the Devil. The Devil knew exactly what God had in mind and made his plans accordingly.

God pointed his fingers to the earth and slowly raised a mendicant from his shadow. He breathed over his palm and into the beggar's being. The beggar bowed low and walked towards the hut.
"Let watch the fun now", said God and rubbed his hands in glee.
"I'd prefer sitting on top of the hut and watching it, if that's ok with you."
"Well, I have to be with the beggar, so I'll stay around him on the ground."
The Pair walked their paths but it was never a departure. How can water and wetness be separated?

The beggar walked up to the hut and called out.
"Anyone home to give some food to a hungry beggar?"
Bending under the door of her hut, the lady walked out to see who was calling out to alms.
"Aah! The generous lady of the house is here. My name is Heinrich and while passing through the market filled with stingy devils", and here God looked up to see a non-chalant Devil on the roof, smiling, "I heard great tales about your generosity. Is it true what they say?"
"We offer what we can in the name of the large-hearted God", and it was time for the Devil to look at the guilty frown on the God's face.
"So would you have enough to fill my shirts pockets?"
Frau Oliva looked at his shirt and noticed the shallow pocket with a wide mouth. Half a loaf of bread is all that it can hold, maybe a full loaf, she thought to herself.
"Definitely, Brer Heinrich", she said and turned to re-enter her hut.
"Beware of hollow promises, lady. The God shall take away your husband who is still in the forest and feed him to the wolves, if you go back on your promise."
Frau Olivia shuddered under her skin. How did he know that my husband was away in the forest? He must be very powerful and capable of doing harm to my husband. Let me fill his pocket and see him off.
She returned with two loaves of bread and offered it to him. He grabbed them and stuffed them in his pocket and turned to her.
"What? That is it?"
"No, no Brer Heinrich. I was merely waiting to see how much space was left and what should I bring next."
"Some potatoes would be good."
She rushed in to bring a bushel of potatoes and offered him a handful. He grabbed her basket and stuffed it all in his pocket. He bent over to pick one that had slipped away and stuffed that one too.
"What else do you have to offer?"
She rushed in and brought all the grains, wine and vegetables that she had stacked and he kept piling them all into his pocket, but the pocket would never fill. She went out into the kitchen garden and plucked all the tubers and gourds, even the ones which cried out for some time before the ripen. She rushed back, her hair tousled by the impending misfortune on her husband and her hands trembling under the weight of his imminent death.
"Take all of this, all of this, but please be satiated."
He filed them into his pocket and looked up for more. She sank to the threshold and was the shade of the mercy she sought from the God above.

God smiled at the Devil and spoke in a voice none could hear.

"See? When the inevitable is right before you, the human mind thinks it can still rearrange Fate, rearrange My Will."
Devil smiled and whispered into the woman's ear in a voice which the God couldn't hear.
"You missed looking under the wicker basket."

She looked around startled wondering who spoke to her and decided it was the all knowing beggar. She ran into the hut and tossed the basket aside to find sacks of grain buried in the floor. She cried aloud in happiness and dragged them out to the beggar. He frowned at her but opened his pocket. She poured the grains carefully with the silly fear that a few grains that might fall out would refuse her husband a chance of returning safely. After emptying 6 sacks of grain, the beggar looked up at her with a smile of triumph.

Again the Devil whispered in her ear, and she rushed to the rear of her hut. She founds four cartloads of vegetables. She yoked herself to them and pulled them to where the beggar stood. It is amazing, how a God fearing woman can age in the matter of a few hours, under the pinning thumb of fear.

She emptied them one at a time into his pockets but there was always space for more. She collapsed at his feet and wet his feet with dearly begging tears. God knew that this game that the Devil was playing in response to his would only amount to the wrong person dying tonight. He thought a bit and smiled.

The beggar finally spoke.
"You are indeed generous but my pocket has space for just one pumpkin. Give me the best you have and I shall walk away happily."
She shook her head and her lips scraped the earth for some mercy. The Devil smiled and whispered again. She looked up with some hope and thanked the God for whispering in her ear. The last straw...She dragged her worn self across the ground and pushed the pile of washed clothes out of the basket near the door. There, under the clothes, lay a bright pumpkin. She clutched it to her breast. She dragged herself on her elbows and raised the pumpkin to his pocket. When she was just about to stuff it in, God blew the hair away from her face. Astonished at the amorous act of this beggar, she let the pumpkin slip. It fell into his pocket and tore it apart under its weight. Out spilled all the grain and vegetables that she had poured in generosity.

The beggar stepped back and was trembling in anger.
"So this is how you treat a mean beggar? This is how you wish to show off your well being? What greatness have you gained by ridding a poor man of his only way to carry his mouthful of bread? Arrogance hasn't brought a man to His doorstep. Your arrogance shant bring your husband home."
He spat on the earth and walked away.

A while later amidst the clouds the lark heard its Master's voice.

"As I said, brother, you are at once generous and wicked."

2 comments:

  1. The only thing that is inevitable, in the grand scheme of things is the realisation that all and every single atom is the Divine, in all His glory, omnipotence and knowledge. The rest is a lot of interesting or not so happy games played consciously or unconsciously by us in our little knowledge or great ignorance.

    # as always very beautiful writing, and great intelligence shown in the intricate theme of the story.
    You are a gifted writer :)

    # why dont you do away with word verification? blogspot has incorporated automatic avoidance of spammy comments..

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  2. Anonymous11:22 PM

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    ReplyDelete