DREAM OF THE ASHWALKER
The Way of Walking pt2
Another step brings the memory…
As a young boy, his beloved mother had died, and even before her ashes were cold, his father had stood with another woman, a younger woman, and her family. It was acceptable to be with a new woman, it was often the people’s way, but it was too soon! His father would be going to live with the woman and her family. But the woman had wanted to have children of her own, and neither she nor her family had not wanted his father to bring his sons to come live with them.
His father, who had never been a kind man, left the boys after the funeral, and without their mother, or their father, they no longer had a home. They had nowhere to go, and no other family to go to. Except for each other, the boys were alone. And so, he and his brother Ungkaya, had wandered together for a little while, in search of a new life…
For a time, they had traveled ~ but it was difficult and dangerous. Fortunately, Ungkaya, older and already nearly a man, was soon admired by a young woman and her family in a village not far off. The young woman wanted Ungkaya ~ to be her husband, for it was the way, for women to choose the men. But, his brother’s soon to be wife was much like their father’s young woman, and neither she nor her family wanted Ungkaya to bring him, but he had nowhere else to go, and so the woman and her family, reluctantly agreed to let him stay with them and serve them.
But they were not kind to him. Every chore was made his, but nothing he could do ~ could please them. The woman’s family often left him hungry. And all the while Ungkaya seemed to care less and less for him. Ungkaya even began to ignore him – even when the woman or her family began to beat him. Then, at last, one evening, again so sorely beaten and again hungry, and still so ignored by his brother, he was told by the cruel woman to make himself useful and go and get water. Wiping the tears from his face, and the blood from his lip ~ he left, and at last, wandered off ~ all alone into the tall grass.
No one would miss him, and no one would come looking for him. Not even his brother Ungkaya; and he knew this, and it seemed the world around him knew this. Such a little boy still, the grass eagerly swallowed him whole, as if all along it had just been waiting for him. And then, all alone he walked, lost in the grass. And just as he knew, no one came to look for him or even to call for him to bring the water, not even his brother Ungkaya, not even as darkness began to come.
Pressing forward with his hands and feet ~ he went deeper into the grass ~ as it seemingly grew all around him taller and darker with the coming night. Many a other child would have been afraid, but being lost in the grass, with the coming darkness, for the first time ~ in a long time ~ he felt safe.
Then, with only moments left of the setting sun, the surprise of a darting dragonfly came for him! He followed the dragonfly through the tall grass, happy to chase it; but then, where the grass had parted, revealing the sun was almost gone ~ so too the dragonfly was suddenly gone!
Again, left alone.
But, even though the night was looming all around him, he did not try to return to the way he had come. It was not that he had lost his way, but instead, he knew he was on a new way, a way of walking. And though he was a little afraid of the dark ~ the night was not so dark after all ~ as a great full moon rose, and lit the grasses bright!
And amidst the luminous greens, though still a mere child, he managed to walk his way, not back to his brother, not back to his father, but instead amongst the wild. Amongst the tall grass. And hidden dragonflies. Amongst the trees. And hidden monkeys. Amongst the guttural moans of lions and the whimpering of hyenas, the braying of zebras, he walked alone ~ listening to all their night talks. Unafraid of all they said, he just listened and walked. Walked so long, until he was so exhausted he could not help but sleep ~ but even then he walked in his sleep, following the moon in full bloom!
To be continued…
For previous episode: