Zen Questa IX

The soft wind blew across the leaves and caressed his face as he lay fast asleep hugging the big banyan tree. The birds had already left their nests to forage for food and to exercise their wings in order to keep them in a sprightly shape. A little ant crawled over his arm searching for a path and moved in zigzag; which is usual of the ants as they move through unknown territory in search for some food. Xandu felt a tickle moving up his arm and opened his eyes to see what was it. He found the ant rubbing its antennas and trying to wade through his hair on the arm. Its must have been quite an expedition for the poor ant as our man was blessed with certainly more foliage than the other men of his age. Not that he was a hairy beast, but he had thicker hair wherever they had a chance to grow right from his head to the toe. He blew air onto his arm and nothing happened. The ant did not even budge from its place. This time he blew strongly and it must have felt like a hurricane to the industrious ant. Still, it wont let go and clung to his hair for its life. Xandu knew that it was not going to help and brought his arm closer and with his other hand he picked the ant and threw it from the tree onto the ground. The ant flew through the air and waved all its six legs violently to catch on to something until at last it landed on the bed of rotten leaves. It will have to start all over again and was not disheartened. Such was the life in the jungle. Everything in the jungle respected the law of nature and worked accordingly. They did not exercise their intellect too much and certainly did not waste their time imagining life; but living it. These setbacks were a part of their daily life and there was no hurry to achieve something or being successful among the peers. The ultimate thing was death and nobody in the jungle seemed to bother about it but for our man perched high on the tree.

Now that he had woken up, he felt a rumbling sound coming from his stomach and the need to drink some water and freshen up was urgent. He knew that a river flowed through the forest and ultimately moved out to the village and went further on its journey to places unknown to him. The way to find a river in the jungle is not easy; but to a trained eye there were hints all around to look for the source of water. He had not forgotten to pack his water bag made of good quality animal skin. However, it was not enough to gargle and spit and it direly needed a refill. He waded his way through the bushes and wary of hidden snakes towards a clearing. As he stood there looking for some clues he noticed a small bevy of does with their little fawns grazing on the sweet grass of the jungle. He stooped low and hid behind the bushes. Then, in a sudden flash of reasoning he began to search for a better place to hide; because, if there is some predator lurking in those bushes then it might make the poor man his lunch instead of the plump little fawns. He moved towards a place where his back was towards a tree and sat down in a wait and watch game. The does must feel thirsty after a hearty meal and they will move towards the fresh water source in some time from now. That indeed happened, as the herd began to move slowly in the south-east direction, Xandu just followed the trail. The journey was a bit slow and he was getting restless and more thirsty by each passing second. He could not do anything but sit and watch and then follow; repeating the procedure in the same order until he was near a water source. He desperately prayed to the gods above that there is no predator around either for him or the doe; because that would make the herd scatter and run away and he could not possibly match their speed. Seems like the gods conspired in his favor and nothing like that happened.

He was standing close to the river bank now and looked around to see many animals drinking the water wherever it was shallow. The monkeys were making a lot of splash and noise; while, the elephants stood there in a regal way and took their turns to bath in a group of two or three. Xandu slowly stepped closer to the part where the water seemed shallow and clear and lowered his water bag into the water. Guddup-Guddup-Blupp-blupp was the sound that came from an almost empty water bag. After the bag was full, he lowered his hand to gargle his mouth and then drank the water straight from the river. The fresh cool water was coming from the icy glaciers of the high mountains somewhere to the north. After he had drank to his heart’s content, he took a nice bath in the gently flowing water and closed his eyes to feel the coolness engulf him. Everything was going good until he heard a pandemonium of sounds all around him. He opened his eyes and swam to the shore as fast as he could. He saw that on the other side of the river, an alligator was dragging a fawn into the river by its leg, caught in its powerful jaws, and was getting closer and closer to success while the monkeys were shouting around and jumping all over creating a ruckus. Maybe it was their way of creating a distraction, but, the alligator wasn’t paying any attention. He was not interested in the monkey business but his lunch. The doe watched in silence; she had left the struggle or even the hope that the little one would survive. His mother shall wait for another mating and another season. Her acceptance was total.

Xandu was sitting on the other side and watching everything with breath almost held. He saw the fawn talking the dips and finally the few bubbles were all there was that remained of his existence. Death was staring right at his face and he found his heart skipping a few beats or maybe he did not notice. He was too shocked to see a wild death. He had always eaten meat that was cut by a butcher and never saw an animal being killed. After a few moments of mourning and trepidation, he opened his bag and began to eat his bread and pickles; washed everything down with more water and prepared to leave the river bank and go on his original quest. He had to find the blind wise man living deep in the forest. He took the path ascertained by the movement of the birds in the sky and the animals on the ground that were leaving the river to move into their homes. No maps and no markings were there to help him. This was his own journey and he must decide his own path.

Continued…

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