Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Early next morning, in fact, long before dawn, Hamsa set out, carrying dry rations - biscuits and water bottles. There was not much talk or discussion - in fact, it was Hamsa, not seven separate individuals - walking, waddling, sometimes running and staggering; it was again Hamsa which sang, now with one voice, now with two, or three or even seven voices together.

Things met Hamsa and Hamsa met things - people, houses, cattle, farms, again houses, open spaces, trees, the nights and days, sunshine and birds, sky and stars, rains, hills and dales, streams and lakes, again nights and days.

This morning Hamsa came across the first signpost on a tortuous path.

BONER'S REST: It said. Hamsa stopped a while, to munch a biscuit and take a sip of water - the biscuit packet was never empty nor the water bottle ever dry. Hamsa looked around:

On both sides of the path, as far as the eye could reach were houses, encampments - some recent, some showing considerable age; and there were people, and dogs, of different ages busy with something. The curious thing was that they were all seen to be at work digging for something. Hamsa heard snatches of conversation - one was crying hoarse with joy, flaunting something held in his hand; another was digging here and again there shouting, Gone, Stolen, Lost!; yet another found something, but was screaming that he found only one whereas he remembered having buried four. 

Though many were working close to the path, yet were they so engrossed that they did not look up once at Hamsa. The dogs were busy too, digging, too busy to bark at passing strangers.

Hamsa coughed politely to draw the attention of an old crony who was crouched waist deep in a pit, but was still frantically scratching away and flinging out the earth.

Hamsa was always helpful, "May we help you, sir," said Hamsa.

"Tired, yes," the crony said, "but certainly not letting any stranger into this, can't fool me! Ha ha!"

Hamsa smiled. "Excuse me interrupting - but this, all this, and these wonderful people working so hard - so interesting," Hamsa never asked questions.

The old crony brightened, "It is a long story," he said, "can't say when it started - from times back, I can't remember - some of our forefathers walked along this path, from where to where, we don't recall, some said for gold, some said for beauty, or for a lost kingdom or things like that.

"They camped here one night. Next morning they found that they had lost or mislaid somethings - rings or money, or some other things, some said that they lost time, others that they lost their youth - but all were sure that they buried it somewhere here during the night fearing they might be stolen. Some remembered that they buried things further out. Others buried stuff that they felt would not be needed for the journey but might come in handy for the return trip. Was there any point in their going forward without anything to go on with or with nothing to come back to? So they settled down to dig and search, settled down to marrying, babying, living and dying, but all the time searching. Of course new people pass this way and sometimes they stay here for a night's rest, and they join - of course these foreigners come for thieving, surreptitiously digging everywhere. Otherwise how is it that this is the 62nd pit I am digging and not a thing! and is it a wonder I cover it up with a towel! Not enough place for you, here; try the other side of the road."

"Soon you will be on the journey again I hope," said Hamsa.

"What journey? What, me leave this place and let robbers dig up my things, the sons of the Devil! Each one of us is hoping that the others will go on so that there can be more elbow room. I haven't yet found the things I buried, and add to that the things my father and grandfather buried and left for me. Imagine the things I hid here, some for my journey, some for my return! And what nice things my fathers must have left! What! Leave all this to grabbers and go!"

He yelped and turned back seeing that a dog jumped into the pit. There was a scuffle - the dog emerged with a bone, and the crony hobbled after it, shouting, My Bone! My Bone!

it was getting to be night. As Hamsa moved on, something detached itself from its pack and fell in to the pit - it was a wristwatch and calendar. 

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