Prologue

He stood in the shadows, watching, as he had been doing for eons. Landscapes had changed since he began his shadowy watch. Forests which were once his refuge had shrunk almost to nothingness. New Roads had come where there were once only grass and trees. Houses made of strange materials never seen in his boyhood now dotted the landscape. Exotic fruits and flowers grew in profusion in gardens and groves. Noisy Vehicles with poisonous fumes had replaced the animal drawn chariots. He had watched it all at first with wonder, then with anger and now with impassivity.

The changes were slow and gradual, making it easy for him to adapt. To go deeper into the shadows, to blend with them, to hide himself behind trees, among grass, though there were times he wondered if it was worth it, whether the men of that age would actually be able to see him. But he took no chances and stayed out of sight, an art he had perfected over the centuries.

The changes in the world were not to his liking, but he learned to live with them and to survive them. The river waters were no longer good for drinking, so he took refuge in wayside wells and the strange instrument men called a tap. The trees grew back in their ancient habitats, no matter how many times they were felled.

It was the mountains he hated. They had not changed much and only superficially. They were still as majestic and towering and awe-inspiring as they were in his boyhood. They stood there, their snowy peaks lost in the clouds, a baleful presence, pinning him under their pitiless gaze.

He looked up at the sun and wondered if Suryadeva was up there somewhere, still mourning his lost son. Why did all those events seem so fresh to his memory and more real than the centuries that he had witnessed? The men of this age did not believe in devas. They offered no sacrifices. They said the sun was a burning globe of gases though they had never been to it. They mocked at people for believing in God, and asked them for evidence. He wondered what evidence they had for believing the sun was a burning globe and no God.

They did not believe in Indra or his Vajra. They had explanations for rain and rain clouds and for the thunder which still shook the skies and for the lightning. They believed in nothing, thought he. And their lives were much simpler in consequence.

He loved the rain. It cooled his skin, allowing him to forget that he was cursed for all eternity, though the rain clouds brought the images of the one who cursed him. The raindrops soothed him, like the apologetic caress of the one who laid that terrible curse on him.

Sometimes, he pitied the men of that age. They had never known what it was to believe with absolute certainty; to do a sacrifice with the welfare of the world in mind; to live life on the scale of a God or a demi god.

But mostly he pitied himself, for being the one left, for being in this age where no one believed in him or his life, where their deeds were but a tale told by grandmothers and the truth had been embellished so many times that none now knew what the real tale was.

There were times when he was tempted to move out, to go to some house, to beg for a chance to tell his story, but he had desisted. The curse came to him, “You will be shunned by all, you will forever dwell in the fringes of men.” And so he stayed away, though he could not rightly say who was shunning whom.

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6 thoughts on “Prologue

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    Liked by 1 person

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