Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The peacock and the dragon


The mountains of the Madhmadh ranges stretched like a giant yawn across the sleepy plains beneath. Far in the distance, the peak of Soma rose like a sated sigh, capped with alabaster snow. That very same sigh echoed in the emerald green peak of Manas, shimmering with the dew on the leaves of its jungles.

Nestled secretly between the folds of these two peaks lay the ever drenched valley of Anga. The monsoon ravished this valley forever, leaving it cloaked in soft ruby red moss. Jasmine creepers entwined the sturdy unyielding trunks of trees, yielding forth virgin buds that eagerly professed their passion to the breeze with an effulgent fragrance.

Charmed by this enchantment of lust and desire, beasts and birds from far off lands gravitated to this valley and filled it with sounds.

The monkey drunk with the sweetness of the mango that he plundered jumped from branch to branch his crimson bottom flashing like wounds on the trees. The blue-throated koel sang with abandon entreating the waterfall with plaintive cries. Serpents entwined on the soft moss, setting the foliage aflame with their passion. The uncouth honeybee incessantly buzzed around in mad circles around the mango blossoms, infuriating the silent lizards who hissed menacingly. The eager rabbits chased each other in frenzied pursuit startling the grasshoppers.

One monsoon when the clouds hung low kissing the fluttering leaves of the tress, there came a peacock hatched out of its egg. It shivered at the first touch of the cold breeze shedding sapphire gems on the emerald moss. It blinked as a lightning tore the sky. A sudden unsaid desire welled in its heart as the thunder of the skies heralded the arrival of the debauched rains. It cried a hoarse utterance and spread its emerald-azure plumage. Its body shimmered with the youth of innocence. Every feather in its plumage bore a thirsty eye that was unsullied with any sight. It stood there for an instant pure in soul, young at heart and supple in form. Its curves slid of its body with the celerity of warm blood. This warmth and life made it dance around slowly.

As it turned round and round, its thousand feathered eyes drank more and more of the valley's frolic. And every sight, every sound sent a shiver down its spine, that gathered as tiny sliver in its crown. The crown soon curved sensuously as a question. Its head now bending and aching with the wait of the question, the peacock ran eager to find an answer.

It rushed to the coiled serpents with its crown drooping and its tail unfurled. The serpents however, were lost in the heat of their desire, merely replied in fumes of hisses and sighs. The peacock walked on confused.

The impassioned monkey screeched and shouted seeing the golden curve of the peacock's crown. It jumped from the higher branches to the lower ones and eagerly thrust its hands to pluck that jewel. The peacock afraid ran away.

In fright, the peacock ran into the mango grove. The buzzing bees all now gathered in raw hunger circling the luminous crown of the peacock muttering to each other in abrupt hisses. The lizards disgusted with this excessive show of passion slithered away muttering curses. The peacock stayed awhile basking in the admiration of the bees. But it soon grew wearied with their empty buzzing. Its head still aching with the question of its crown it trudged along.

Its weary walk brought it to the dark woods that swallowed whole the clandestine union of all beasts. It stood there, mesmerized by the koel's song. It's feet tapped gently to the rhythm of the waterfall. For a brief time it forgot the question and stayed enraptured. But suddenly, the eager male rabbit pounced on his female with such a fury that he startled the koel who flew far into the woods taking her song with her. The peacock now sad at the loss of the song, walked on aimlessly.

Soft, hesitant steps brought the peacock to a dark cave amidst the valley. The cave was inhabited by the great Dragon. The Dragon was a silent ascetic, who had taken a vow of silence. Forever tormented by the pull of desire and fear, he fought an enormous war with the peak of Soma for forty days and forty nights. With no victor in sight, Soma yielded a draw to him, giving him the gift of his Great Bow and his nectar tipped arrow. In return, the Dragon yielded to Soma his ever burning fire. After this fight, the Dragon withdrew to this secret hidden cave of the valley. There in the cave, he set the arrow upon the Great Bow and buried the arrow in the ground with the string till taut. Then he climbed on the bow string and began his penance. He woke from his reverie only once every monsoon and uttered one line of verse. He did not care if anybody listened, noted it down or it merely echoed of the walls. After uttering this verse, he would end his fast for a brief time before relapsing into meditation on the bow again.

Into this cave, the peacock walked, gazing along the damp walls of the cave, its heart beating slowly to the dripping of some underground river. It suddenly came upon the Dragon and gazed at it in awe. At that very moment, the Dragon opened his eyes and prepared to break his vow. The peacock's crown, burdened with the question so far, found a voice and sprang out of the peacock, like the light of dawn.

Why should it be?
What end does it see?
Whither goes this life?
Where ends this strife?

The Dragon smiled as these words spurted out of the peacock's crown like blood from a fresh wound. He removed the bow from the ground and held the strung arrow between his fingers. He paused for a second and uttered

The arrow flew and hurried
Till in the target it is buried

His fingers let go of the arrow. The string quivered shattering the silence of the cave. With the swiftness of its thirst, the arrow plunged deep into the peacock's full chest, drawing out the blood of life. The peacock slipped softly into the ground, went limp and died.

4 comments:

Parvati said...

Why the morbid streak where death is the only goal, way and key? Poor peacock, cryptic dragon.

Maybe that teacher in you, who sees something other than death to 'what end does it see?' should be woken up, if indeed there is skulking such a teacher, and if indeed there is such a mysterious and never-before-known end :-)...

அக்னிபாரதி said...

Death and morbidity?

Hardly the intentions of this post, I must say.

Anonymous said...

I have three words for you, or maybe four: Please keep it simple.

அக்னிபாரதி said...

Don't we all wish we knew how too keep it simple! :-)