Chamba frequented the stairs by the river, near Shiva's temple at Pashupattinath. He saw the ritual bathing. He saw the washing of clothes. And he saw the burnings. The smoke and orange flames. The smoke rose, dusty and acrid. Mostly, he watched the burnings.
He studied the priests with their professional movements and steps. Their sounds and songs, he caught. But he threw these away.
"Worthless," he thought, " or why should the dead remain dead?"
This conclusion of life in the valley, this smell of the marrow going upwards, was his prime subject in his selfassigned studies. He regarded the sorrow of relatives as an illusion.
"Are they really the relatives? Or paid mourners?" He shook his head. "It is the same, in any case..."
He heard a bell in the temple and ignoring its entrance walked back to the main road. The great bull swayed in his path. He did not argue with it, sidesteppinq and smiling.
"If I am responsible for all this," he said to it in passing, "I cannot blame you!"
The huge head turned and the eyes seemed to pierce him for a moment. He gained quick control over his breath.
"But wait!" he said to the rump of the bull, the swinging tail. "Wait until I can control what I am doing!"
Fresh bull-dung struck the pavement.
Chamba leaped away, and turning, promised, "And you will pay for that! Everyone will pay...."
He walked home grumbling.
Coming down the street was a tree. Not a real one, but a fictitious one. A stick with inserted branches. And all over it, standing at attention from their pegs, were flutes. Large ones, short ones. Fat ones and thin ones. The man carrying them stopped every so often to allow someone to choose one.
"Pick one!" he said. "Pick two!"
"How do we know they are any good?" asked one potential customer.
"Ah cha!" the flute peddler said, reaching up and picking one, painted in red and white stripes. "Watch! Very easy ... very easy to play!"
He put the end of the flute to one nostril, closing the other with a finger of his free hand. The right hand moved on the holes and the man exhaled, playing a sweet Nepali tune.
"Wonderful! Wonderful!" said the kitemaker who stood nearby. He decided to buy a flute for Chamba. He chose one which was high on the flute-tree and one with a girth too wide to have been in the peddler's nostril.
Chamba was delighted with the gift and ran off, blowing sour notes on it. "Thank you, guru-ji! Now I can learn it..." "Learn what?" asked the puzzled man. "The melody to which Shiva dances!" he called back. He ran to the river, to the burning ghats.
"Mrs. Mendies," said Melody, stepping into the office of the Snow View Hotel.
"Yes?" asked the grey-haired woman, looking up.
"I am told," smiled the yellow-haired woman, "that you've adopted seven Tibetan refugee children. Is this true?"
',No," smiled the older woman, looking down at the paper she was holding. "That is not true...."
"...Oh..." said melody, looking disappointed.
"It is," the other woman said, looking up, directly looking into the green grey eyes of the younger one in front of her, "...really... fourteen. Not seven."
"Oh!" Melody said, almost inaudibly. "How can you... manageso many.."
"....just had to be done, the poor dears ...it was so pitiful.. .
"But the economic strain..."
Dee sat before him, her clothes rumpled and half-unbuttoned, more off than on. She looked at him sharply.
"Well," she said finally, reaching forward to kiss him. "We might as well."
They embraced strongly and then she began to pull away, as if she had changed her mind. "Wait," she said. He did not move, watching her intently, curious to see what would happen next.
She did not unbutton her shirt, but pulled it over her head and tossed it away, as if it were a sweater. With a few quick shimmering twists, she reached back, and arms wiggling, all elbows, it seemed, was free of her bra. She took his two hands and put them on her breasts. Right, left. Left, right.
"Do you like children?" she asked, almost moaning.
Startled, he did not know what she meant, and stammered "Why .... yes! Yes, of course."
And that was the first time they made love.
It was morning, and down below in the market square under the eyes of winged garudas, gods, and goddesses in the wooden eaves of the buildings, Shiva and Parvati looking sculpturally out of their temple window, an old toothless woman offered long yellow squashes to passersby. She thrust it at them and poked it at them, asking, "Do you want some? Fresh! I picked them myself ......
Her toothless mouth opened to reveal the movement of her tongue, this way and that. Saliva collected and began to dribble at the edges of her lips, like tendrils of honey. "Do you want some? Here-here!"
"Do you like children?" the servant girl asked him. He looked at Melody, then at Mrs. Mendies.
"Why...yes!! Yes, of course."
Wondering how they knew.
The Tibetan baby which he held in his arms gurgled and smiled. He lifted it by the armpits directly in front of him.
" Is that a smile or gas?" asked Melody.
"A smile!" laughed Mrs. Mendies. "A smile of course!" Then directing her voice to the child, "Cute little one! You should have seen what a bag of bones he was when...Oh! We cried and cried when we gave him a bath...."
He looked at the older woman, then the younger. He looked at the baby in his arms and tried to remember.
What was it that he tried to remember?
There it was! In that rock!
He began to smash at the rock, to free it.
"-must ... be careful! Not to let it get away-Must ... be! ... care ... FULL!"
"Hri," he whispered, smiling to himself.
He wiped the dirt from his hands and looked back and forth. "Now what?" he wondered.
He waited and softly there was a stirring of heats. A
movement of lines. It came as a shifting of golden bones, as if as if No, they were not his ribs. Only, as if they were his bones. It came from his marrow, almost burning, almost as if he could smell the acrid smell of burning bones.
"But they're in me! They must not burn!"Perspiration
appeared on his forehead, suntanned and golden,glistening. "I must keep my thoughts firm," he said. "They must not burn inside me or... "
"Mmmmm..." came the wind from the south.
He became alert.
"Where are you going?" he asked the wind.
It did not reply, moving past him, northwards.
"Ah cha!" he said, stroking his chin and sniffing the air, wrinkling his nose. Then suddenly, he scratched under his arm. "Fleas!" he laughed, scratching, while looking from south to north, from green in the south to burnt orange in the north.
"Alive... and dead," he thought aloud, "and I'm in between...."
"Mmmmm...." said the wind.
"Okay! I understand! You're going home and I'll follow!"
He turned north. "Going home..."
"Wel-come," said the blind woman in the cave entrance. She turned her white blind eye towards him.
He said nothing to her, listening to the wind entering the cave.
"Wel-comel" she repeated, smiling her toothless smile, sucking in her lips and pursing them out into a smiling pout.
He did not move.
She turned her head and stared at him with her empty right eyesocket. The skin had collapsed into it, making strange sensuous wrinkles.
He did not stare. He hardly noticed her movements.
"Well...." she started, reaching up towards him with a boney, sharp-fingered hand.
He moved quickly, before she could touch him. Leaping forward, he plunged past her into the cave opening. The darkness struck him like a heavy blanket, but he continued to move into it. Into the yawning darkness. It plunged at an angle before him, and he stumbled forward, faster and faster.
The woman was screaming behind him, shrieking and whining. "Stop! Stop! You fool...! Stop!"
When he did not heed her words, they became a roar, echoing through the cave, and he turned once to look back. It was a mistake.
"Aha!" said the small shadow far back at the windowlike entrance. "I've got you now!" And he saw her throw it. A spot of color. A piece of orange. It was flame! It was fire! And it came hurtling towards him, growing larger and larger, filling the entire cave!,
"Well...." shrieked the woman. ".... goodbye ... then!"
Everything was a flaming orange, as it engulfed him.
"Mmmmm..." the wind was with him, even in the midst of orange.
Oh! Orange color!
"Mmmnum-nm...." the wind said.
He thought that he would die.
"Which way?" he asked.
"Mmmaaaa," it lead him, blinded by the engulfing color.
"I can't see!" he cried.
And it lead his hand.
The hot color was choking him as his hand went into the wall, into a narrow crack, reaching in as far as his arm would let him.
"Air-I'm running out... of air..." he strangled, as his fingers strained, following the wind into the crack in the earth. MMaaaa it said.
Orange death was overtaking him! Diagonal lines were cracking his vision. He heard the crone far off, laughing.
Then his outstretching fingers touched it.
It burst up into his hand, his arm, flowing.
"Ah!"It filled his skull and the heat ahd the orange color faded, blending at first but then changing into blues, a blue, a dark blue. The cave was completely dark.
"Ma..." he said, after first inhaling life-giving coolness, like a drink of water, like an elixir. A simple elixir.
"Oh," he said, eyes wide open in the dark cave. "VIA! I've found you.... ! "
The cave resounded with echoes.
"MA. . . Ma"
He burst into tears.
He stepped over the bundle of empty rags at the cave entrance. There was no body of the hag within them. There was not even dust. When he looked back, a few steps later, even the rags had vanished. "MAaaa HRI-i-i-i ... " he said, smiling. And the mountains seemed to rear backward, away from him.
He walked north, the landscape becoming more desolate. He whistled.
"It's a gift to be simple, it's a gift to be free"
"It's a Hri to be simple, it's a Hri to be free ......
He sang and he whistled. The mountains seemed disdainful, but unable to ignore him, throwing back refrains. "Walk in the light ... wherever you may be...." "Walk ... in the ......
A hawk circled. It plunged beyond rocks, but did not reappear.
As it dove, it cried.
He stopped to listen, but then continued to walk.
But there was no path to follow. The glaciers were closer, the valley walls steeper and full of snow and fog
"What next?" he wondered.
"Mnunmmm.Mmmmmm," sang the wind.
Far ahead, the world seemed to end in a wall of white ice.
He nodded. "Yes, I see. Cold. Cold!"
He stepped forward with right foot, then put forward his left foot. Right. Left. "Five," he said. "NGA.... I am next!" And he whistled without making sounds. The glaciers gave no signs of respect "Nga," he said. INGA ......
"MA-HA Guru-ji!" Chamba called to the falling snow. "Help me!" He shivered and shook. "Oh...Sri Khatvanga ... Help. The snow continued to fall. The mountains vanished.
"TVA," he mumbled, thinking, inhaling and exhaling sharply to keep warm. "Dva," he corrected, thinking. Inhale, quickly! Exhale, quickly! Faster... !! Move your stomach muscles ... 1 Ah! The cold!
"TWO" He caught it.
"Yes, two"He smiled, warmth surging up his torso.
"Two breaths!" he laughed, 11exhaled! And" heroared, shaking off the snow, "it becomes me! Khatvanga!"
"We shall be one!"
Ha Ha Hahahah.
Muffled by whiteness everywhere.
"It is too late," said Dharma Dorje, turning to go into the gompa.
"It is none too soon," said Dorje Drelhu, squinting at the lama, scratching his head.
The monk passed, waving his hand as if to dismiss the monkey-man.
The sun was very bright. Not a cloud was in the brilliantly blue sky.
"Do as you please...." said the monk.
"Thank you, Geshe-la," smiled Drelhu. "Thank you..."
"You will, anyway!"
"Ah! Geshe-LA," squeaked the monkey-man. The lama vanished into the darkness of the gompa. Then the hairy armed man began to hop down the path, past the chorten, past .......and around the boulders.
"Good! Good! I will pass on..." he grimaced, wrinkling his nose, baring his teeth, "the lama's secret teachings.
That will help Dorje Chamba!"
Moving quickly downward among the rocks.
Very blue sky.
"Dorje Chamba," started Drelhu. "You must listen... I am about to teach you..."
"Hmmm? What? What are you talking about?"
"You are in danger!" wobbled the other, scratching the back of his left hand. "The world is in danger..."
"If it keeps collapsing," he said.
"If... something makes it collapse!" interjected Drelhu, red eyes narrowing.
"If someone .... ?"
The monkey-man did not answer. He tried again.
Drelhu shook his head. "That is not the point!" he snarled.
That quieted his questions.
"Control ... !" he said. "Control over the forces ...thatis
He continued to be silent, wondering what the monkey-man was up to.
"Geshe-la says it is too late.
His heart skipped a beat.
"...but that is mystical talk! It is negative for positive ... see?"
Wide eyes staring.
He nodded since it was expected of him.
"It means ... yes! There is time ... It means ... yes.! I must teach you..."
"What? Teach me what?"
"Oh..." puzzled Drelhu.
"What is it, elder brother?" He smiled, half-mockingly.
"There is a difficulty I had not thought of..."
"What is that?" He still smiled.
"Chamba!" exclaimed the other. "I cannot tell you in words! And I cannot demonstrate it! All power would vanish before you could learn it!"
Mentally he was laughing.
Out loud, he said, "That does make a problem, doesn't it?"
"Yes..." said Drelhu, chewing on a knuckle. "Yes."
The sun began to sink. A dark shadow of a pyramid moved up the white gompa wall. It did not follow the path of the previous shadow.
Drelhu finally said, "You must observe me carefully... my every move! I will not do anything special ......
"That'll be very secret," he smiled.
"Yes," said Drelhu, not noticing the other's scorn
"But you should smell it and most of all, see it
Cho Tabla was full of shadows.
"....and most of all....."
"Another most of all?" he laughed.
"Do not laugh!" said Drelhu."Most of all comes twice!"
"Okay, okay," he said, shaking his head and smiling, looking at the broad flat mask. "Go on"
"You must do it"
"That's it? Do it?"His eyebrows arched.
Drelhu made a solemn face, pursing his lips, stroking his chin and looking at the tea table."....at an accomplished stage...yes. But before that.."
Drelhu turned his back on him.
"Yeah," he said, "exactly," and thinking to himself,
"I wonder when I can try the ravine again?"
Drelhu spun on his heel, scowling.
"Not until you can eat fire!"
It was foolish. He knew Drelhu was expecting him to smell the so-called teachings, but he had no wish to join in this game. Drelhu moved about, glancing to see if he was trying.
"You're not doing it!" he groaned at him.
"Who cares! " he snapped back.
"The world cares!" Drelhu answered. "You cannot avoid...."
And that is how it went.
Drelhu grew impatient and patient, but still there was nothing to listen to, nothing to grab hold of. The conversations were everyday, normal or inane.
He felt that he was a prisoner of this monkey-man and Cho Tabla.
Then one day, the monkey-man was about to serve tea, and he inadvertantly touched two empty teacups together.
"Kling."And the room was filled with the fragrance of roses.
"What's that smell?" he asked.
"Smell?" questioned Drelhu, who suddenly smiled.
"Ah, Chamba! Congratulations!"
There was no doubt about it. It was the smell or roses. And outside were the desolate mountains.
"Chamba!Geshe-la will be proud of you! He will be proud of me.... !"
The lama would have been just as puzzled as he was.
The "clunk" of the door produced the odor of incense.
Drelhu clapping his hands in delight caused bursts of unknown perfumes.
The sounds of scratching his ear was new-mown hay.
"I'm going insane," he speculated, while smells began to permeate his waking moments.
He made no conclusions about his sanity, but he could not deny that the smells of flowers, perfumes and odors of the world were crowding in on him.
Then, one day, as he was becoming accustomed to them, they changed. "KLING," became a color. Bright canary yellow.
Then another sound became white!
It is breaking ... into pieces! Triangles ... circles. SQUARES!
One in one.
Two in two.
Blue in two.
White in one ....
There were no more sounds! The world was color ... and forms. Everything spoke to him visually. He suddenly thought, "Melody...." and could not understand what he was thinking. "Melody...." he thought. "Dancing? Why am I thinking of Melody dancing?"
He really became concerned when a vellow building appeared below, near the farmland.
Its appearance did not disturb him so much as the sound the it gave him.
The green acre next to the building voiced its own sound. He looked at Drelhu, in his brown robe, his face glistening with its bronze color. Drelhu spoke without speaking. "You begin to understand .... said the silent monkey-man. "Yes," he nodded.
Colors of sounds came to him from Drelhu, accompanied by sounds of colors. They became voices, back and forth. Some were loud. But some were soft, for they came from the colors which originally were other sounds...which originally were other colors ... which....
There was a confusion within his body, rippling upwards. It was bands of heat, bands of cold. If he contemplated them at all, they became A fierce vibration that moved across his torso, creating and crashing upon his face. He dared not focus on the fact that they were invisible colors, moving. That they were unheard sounds, moving. They crested, like water, like splashing lava, and crashed around his eyes, which looked outward and inward at the same time.
It became quieter. And he knew that they were blue and golden lines that rose, cracked, separated, and rejoined. Thick lines, which he could almost count. Was it eight? Or was it six? The thing which he could not understand was why he thought of them as male and female ... perhaps men and women ... perhaps, himself and....
The sun rose and the sun rose. The moon came into the sky.
"Drelhu...." he began to ask. "How long ... will this...
Drelhu turned into sounds, like music, and then into forms like circle, square, square, circle, pyramid, pyramid, square.
"Drelhu he whispered.
And suddenly he was alone.
Sounds were sounds and colors were colors.
He looked out the window. The yellow house had vanished.
"Drelhu! Where are you?" he called. But there was no answer.
He sniffed the air. The room seemed dusty and airless, as if it had just been opened after many years of being deserted.
The landscape was desolate.
"It is too late," said the lama.
"No!" said Drelhu.
The lama vanished.
He stood on the planks outside the room with the tea table. Looking up at the gompa, he could see Drelhu hopping down the upper staircase near the chorten. Suddenly, Drelhu vanished.
The heat was getting intense. He could smell the soil. It was burnt!
Looking at the white qompa, he saw it shimmering. was it vanishing too?
No one appeared and he felt absolutely alone. Blue sky.
Three stars .... Orion? Cig ... nyi..........sum.
It was cold and he had a difficult time getting to sleep. But once he was asleep, he did not awake for a long time. In his sleep, he dreamt. There was a lama named Dharma Dorje. There was a grimacing man who thought he was a monkey, named Dorie Drelhu. They spoke to him and he saw colors.
The monkey boy outran the dogs. While he had the advantage of a lead, he scampered up a leaning tree, heart beating fast, but not breathless. The dogs found the tree and surrounding its base, barked at it, as if the wood itself was their quarry. They attacked and retreated, afraid that the rising form would suddenly turn on them. The tree did not.
The monkey boy laughed and disappeared higher in the branches near the top.
The villagers came shouting, "Do not let him get away this time!"
"Here are the dogs!"
"He must be up there..."
"Do you see him?"
"Where is he?"
"He has vanished!
On other occasions when they pursued him, he led them a confused chase in the forest. He stayed on the ground to taunt them. And at the last moment got into the trees, moving from branch to branch, laughing.
They lost him, but with confidence in the heat of the wish for revenge, plunged further into the mossy wood. What they found instead was a tribe of large white-faced monkeys who made a great racket at the people's,penetration into their domain. The females with babies fled first, while the larger males contested their approach.
"Ah!" they said. "Look! There he is..."
And the monkey leader swung by them, grimacing and baring great fangs.
"Oh! Look! He had changed completely! He is now...
The forest suddenly seemed very dark to the men.
"Let us leave this place!"
The monkey boy watched from above as the lama went through the woods towards the village.
The boy, who was later to be called Drelhu, wished the monk would return. And the lama did. With him came a crowd of villagers who watched as the lama beat a drum and rang a handbell. There were sticks of incense and dishes of food. But the boy Drelhu did not leave his secret spot from which he observed.
There was a great deal of chanting. Oh! Was there chanting! It went on and on. The villagers left one by one.
Soon the lama was alone in the forest, chanting and praying.
Drelhu watched. He watched while the animals fed. He also watched when the leopard moved out of the thicket to inspect the lama. Drelhu watched. He wished that the lama would do something else. The monk changed his tune and sang songs that came from long ago. There was a mother....... Was she a mother monkey singing to him?
He climbed down from the trees.
"It was nice to no longer be a monkey," he thought. "I am glad that I am a man. I am glad I know the secrets of reading and..."
After the terrible sounds in the night, after Drelhu had driven off the beast, he brought the wounded man to the house. "If he could only be brought back to life! If there was someone who could bring him back to life!"
He thought, "....Holy Lama could do it!"
The man was recovering soon.
"Holy Lama did it," said Drelhu. "But the lama is so modest ......
"I did nothing," said Dharma Dorje.
Drelhu smiled and scratched his ear.
"Just as I thought!" he said.
"This is Cho Tabla," Drelhu told the man. "That is Chu Po"
"What?" said the man.
"Cho Po RIVER!" He grimaced, a flat smiling mask.
"Oh, I feel so strange.....I feel in me" said the man.
"Yes, yes?" anticipated Drelhu.
"I don't knowwhoI am!"
Drelhu hopped from foot to foot.
"That doesn't matter! I will give you a name"
"Huh?" asked the man, glassy-eyed.
"You are now Dorje Chamba! We are brothers!"
"I am Dorje Drelhu.....Geshe-la made me a man....and he gaveyou life. I am your elder brother!"
The other smiled wryly.
"Brother of a monkey! Wel-come to the family of man!"
"Very nice" said Drelhu, pursing his lips.
The man nowcalled Dorje Chamba looked down at the village. He saw some men maneuvering a timber for the roof of a new building.
"Where do they get the wood?" he asked.
"Oh," said Drelhu, pointing to the right, beyond the immediate farmlands. "There are many trees here at Cho Tabla...."
" ... and..." continued the man, now called Chamba, "are there many monks at the monastery?"
"Monastery?" asked the puzzled monkey-man.
"Gompa," the other translated, for clarity's sake.
"Gompa?" the wrinkled forehead questioned. "There are no monks here ... there is no gompa!"
"But..." started the other, staring and a bit confused. "What about Lama Dharma Dorje?"
"Oh..." grimaced Drelhu, remembering. "One lama is not.. "
And he laughed.
"Ha Ha HAHAHAH."
"Geshe-la is the only lama..." started Drelhu.
"The only lama?"
"The only one ... " finished the monkey-man.
"Do not go to the village..." said Drelhu.
But he did, kicking pebbles and stones on the path as he walked.
He looked back up beyond the house with the porch, which was surrounded by a group of ten spruce trees. Perhaps nine. Above it was nothing but a rocky foothill, continuing up into the surrounding cliff walls of Cho Tabla. He was surprised to see no more buildings, but did not know why he expected any.
At the single remaining house, he tore off the protective charm.
All this Drelhu saw, and at the last minute decided to make an appearance. It would seem as if he had just noticed what was going on.
"Do not open the door!" he shouted.
He thought ... he thought...
He would do it anyway!
He did, and of course, out came the animal! And Drelhu chased it off to the south...
Then the darkness of the building which ... which ....
And it was gone! Like that? Like that!
When had all the buiidings ...? And when had the monastery..?
He walked up the hill, seeing the gompa white in the sunshine.
"You tore it off?"
He thought he remembered the lama saying that ...
And he thought he recalled speaking of the lines, glowing and shifting.
"Ah! They are back!" he remembered the lama saying, shifting in colors, shining in a nimbus, shimmering in radiance. Then he remembered these colors, circles and squares, becoming sounds.
And noises as if water were dripping...
And somewhere, before this, were smells of roses, or apples or new-mown hay....
"You remember all that?" asked Drelhu.
"Yes," he answered, not believing himself.
"Ah cha said Drelhu, squinting and staring at the man."Do you remember the lama?"
"Geshe-la?" he questioned. "You mean Geshe-la?"
"Yes," answered the monkey-man in a whisper, "...the teacher..."
"As a circle. He was a grey-green circle."
"Very good!" And he laughed.
"Ha ha hahahah!"
"Why are you laughing?"
"Because," grimaced Drelhu, "there is no lama."
The village was totally gone. He stared at the lion and dragon designs on the tea table. A figure appeared in the doorway. He was startled to see who it was.
It was Dharma Dorje.
"What is the matter?" asked the monk in a kindly voice.
"You!" started the other. "I did not expect"
The other stroked his wispy beard and looked at him withgrey-green eyes.
"Why not? Who could you expect otherwise?"
He hesitated, remembering the recent conversation.
"Drelhu?" puz.zled the monk.
"Your friend the monkey-man!"
The lama frowned, stepping from foot to foot.
"You must really be hurtI did not realize..."
"But what about...'
The monk stared at him.
"There is no one else here.
We are completely alone."
"Alone? No other?"
The monk nodded.
"I am the only one.
There has been no one else.
"Geshe-la, " he said.
"Yes?" asked the monk, looking up from the long loose pages of scriptures which he was reading.
"Who saved me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Who rescued me?"
The monk frowned.
"There was no bearor yeti"
"But then....the villagers who brought me...."
The lama looked sad and concerned.
"I brought you here"
"You! Not Drelhu, the monkey-man?"
The monk shook his head.
"Calm down," he whispered. "There is no monkey-man
He was a dream....perhaps.....I am the only one here!"
The lama continued.
"I pulled you from the river"
"River?" he asked weakly.
"Yes beyond the gorge when the rockslide destroyed the village you fell.......and"
"The village!" He suddenly shouted. "That was after......after I had been to Cho Tabla! "
"I do not understand," the lama said.
"....but...and....DID Sri Khatvanga?"
"Sri Khatvanga?" said the monk in a surprised voice.
"How do you know my friend Sri Khatvanga?"
Three broken lines moved on his forehead.
"How do you know the kitemaker?"
In the city, downtownt he had lost him.
He found his traces, the sleeping hobo lying in his own urine. The men, dark men in dark doorways, drinking from bottles hidden in paper bags. There were traces of the black guru everywhere. He smelled the smoke from a building burning on the lower east-side.
"Where are you?" he asked the night.
There was a howling, now to the east, now to the west.
"Dammit!" He started to say more, but caught himself. "I must remain calm. I must control my temper."
He looked right and left.
"I must control my thoughts!"
On the curb was a solid yellow line. Immediately in the street was a solid white line. A newspaper truck stopped for a red light. On it was a circle within a square, within a square. It was like a camera, aimed at him. Watching him. He did not move.
In the mountains, the path was very narrow, sometimes vanishing altogether. In the city, the streets going north were broad and very much in evidence. People in different colors walked on them. Lights snaked out and stood still in various quivering radiances.
He walked north.
He walked north on Broadway and it grew colder.
There were signs everywhere. There were clues everywhere.
Red light.Green light.
Cafe Bar....souvenirs......DANCE, DANCE.....Cafeteria....ALL KINDS OF.....SIGNS.....MADE HERE!
It grew colder and colder.
Everyone seemed to know him. It showed in their eyes.
But no one spoke.They quickly walked by, going south.
He walked north.
It was cold.It was COLD!
There were more and more buildings. And they were all built on a checkerboard grid. Streets at right-angles to each other. East, west and south, north. And they were all growing taller! Cold wind. Cold metal. Cold snow began to fall. His fingers were cold. He clenched them tightly into a fist.
"How can I find him before it is too late?"
AH! MA! HRI! HUM!
"Will I see her again?"
When the animal had attacked him, he saw the flames It was torches.
"Yeti...Yeti!" the voices shouted and rescued him.
But it was almost too late.
Blood poured and blood pumped.
He remembered their saying,
"We roust take him to the lama!
"Yes, he must go to the lama!"
"The lama will help him!"
And they carried him., he remembered that they carried him downwards and then upwards. All the while his life was staining the pathway, coloring their hands, reddening their feet.
"It is too late, " one had said.
"It is not too late," another had said.
They carried him into the opening of the gateway chorten lying him down there on his back. He saw them leaving.
"This is all we can do," he hbard. "Perhaps the lama...
And above him, in the darkness, he saw a painting on the ceiling within the chorten. Squares and circles. Goddesses and ferocious guardians. Lips and fangs. And they circled around a figure in the middle. Very hard to see.
"Hard to seel" he gasped.
The paint was chipped and cracked, long horizontal lines of cracks, webbing over the central figure.
What was it?
"What is ... it?" he thought, straining to see, as moonlight reflected off the cliff walls of Cho Tabla.
"Is it...a Buddha? Bu...ddha! Or..." he thought, gasping, his breath rattling, "a... la ... MA!" The villagers walked down the hillside, leaving the vicinity of the white chorten. It glistened strangely in the light of the moon which was at last breaking free of the clouds.
"Dead...."One of the voices had said, and the word bounced among the rocks.
The roof was collapsed and most of the walls were down. The gompa was quite deserted and dead.
"Drelhu, I don't understand."
The other sniffed, shook his head in a wobbling motion, scratched his ear. "That is because you are still in training...
"To become a great ......
Suddenly a great noise reached their ears. A rumbling to the south. He thought it sounded like potatoes tumbling from one basket to another.
"What is that?" he asked.
"Rockslide!" yelled Drelhu, leaping to his feet. "The village is being destroyed! I must go!"
"Go?" he asked. "Where?"
"To the rescue! To the river!" shouted Drelhu, sniffing and grimacing, pulling his arms, making tight fists, and flexing his legs as if to jump.
"Why?" he managed to ask, just as the other made a leap at the window. It caught him completely by surprise.
"Chamba!" was what he heard, but he was not thinking about words when he saw Drelhu plunge through the window and downwards out of sight.
"He'll kill himself!" he cried, jumping to the sill, gripping it so tightly as to whiten his knuckles.
But Drelhu had not fallen to the rocky path. He was not there at all.
He was sailing through the air, with arms outstretched. Moving as swiftly as a bird. As smoothly as a kite.
"Lucky I rescued you," laughed Drelhu.
He was very somber, looking at the wet clothes draped near the fire.
"Who did you rescue?" he asked at length.
The monkey-man grinned, tracing little designs with a finger on his knee.
"Why," he said, "you of course. You, Chamba!"
"Drelhu, I must ask you something," he started. "Go ahead," smiled the broad mask. "Are ... are you real?" He looked worried.
"I think so!" laughed the monkey-man. "Ha Ha Hahahah." "And Drelhu, am I real?" The other scratched his ear, puckered his lips for a moment and finally, smiling, said, "If you like .... " "What do you mean?" "If you wish...." he continued. "What ... I don't understand!" The monkey-man sniffed, wrinkled his forehead into a series of solid lines, and replied, slightly irritated. "It's up to you!" "But..."
"That's the end of it!" he snapped.
Young Chamba spoke to the youthful monk.
"How is it that you are in a monastery?"
The other continued to sweep the pathway leading to the temple.
"My parents put he here ... offered me..."
"And you? Do you.... ?" the young kitemaker asked.
"Me?" grinned the other broadly. "I?"
"You..." repeated Chamba.
"I have been here all my life ... thus far... I don't remember anything else."
"Oh," said the boy Chamba.
"Don't look so sad!" laughed the other. "It is very good here, away from the illusions of the world!"
Chamba looked at the broad flat face of the laughing youth.
"He is my age," he thought to himself, and then said aloud, "But what do you know of the illusions of the world?"
They both laughed.
Ha Ha Hahahah.
"Where are you going?" asked Chamba, as he saw Sri Khatvanga closing his shop. The other was sliding planks into position and was almost finished.
"Ah cha!" said the white-haired guru. "I am going to visit my friend, Lama Dorje." He seemed to puff with the exertion of lifting and shifting the planks.
"The monk at Bodhinath?" asked the boy.
"Yes," said Sri Khatvanga, beginning to stride down the street. "He is ill."
Chamba had to run to keep up with his long-legged friend.
"May,"he said, "I come, also?"
His guru looked down at him, lifting an eyebrow.
"Yes.I suppose so...."
And they moved hurriedly along the street, passing the multitude of shops, most of which were just beginning to open, shops full of cloth, full of brass vessels or shops full of religious images of wood or stone.
"What is in your bundle, Guru-ji? May I carry it for you... ?"
The other did not turn or pause in his stride.
"No, it is not necessary....'
"What is it, Guru-ji?"
They maneuvered about a group of women with woven baskets overflowing with green vegetables balanced on their heads. An old crone sitting on the side of the street offered them one of her wares, a long yellow squash.
"Dried tea," said Sri Khatvanga. "A brick of dried tea."
"Is that," ran along Chamba, "all?"
"That is everything," answered the other. "That is, all! "
The huge stupa at Bodhinath watched them from afar. They could see it for a few miles and it, if it wished, could see them. A large hemisphere of solid construction, it sat in the midst of the small village of Bodhinath, surrounded by the farmlands of the rich Kathmandu Valley, that same valley which in ancient times had been a huge lake, allowing for the accumulation of such deep topsoil. Both religion and science agreed upon that historical lake. However, the geologists did not quite agree that the Bodhisattva Manjusri had slashed a ravine with his sword to allow the water to escape to the south. But that did not matter. The vegetables and rice grew anyway.
The eyes painted atop the Bodhinath stupa watched them approach.
"Why are there eyes on all sides?" asked Chamba.
"So the Buddha can see," answered Sri Khatvanga, in all directions."
"East and West, North and South?"
"Yes," answered the patient guru.
"Then," continued Chamba, "no one can sneak up on him? "
"Yes," answered the kitemaker, laughing at the way the boy's mind worked.
"Ha Ha Hahahah!"
The boy laughed too, not realizing what Sri Khatvanga was laughing at. But that did not matter. He liked to share the joy of the old man, whatever its source.
"Ha Ha hahahah!"
Sri Khatvanga went to see Lama Dorje in his private room. The monk's young student was told by the lama to wait outside while the two old friends talked. That is when Chamba met him.
"Was Lama Dorje also a monk as a child?" he asked.
"I don't think so," answered the other. "I believe he became a monk when he was old."
"Yes, perhaps twenty five years old."
"That's old," said the young boy.
"Yes," said the young monk, sweeping.
The Buddha watched without blinking.
"How old is he now?"
"I don't know. Perhaps a thousand
"A thousand!" exclaimed Chamba.
"Perhaps, even a thousand and eight!"
"That's old" said Chamba.
"Yes," agreed the broad-faced monk.
"It seems that there are a lot of people that old nowadays
"I've noticed," said Chamba.
And looking up, he saw the kitemaker coming out of the monk's room. He moved slowly and was looking at the ground as if he had lost something. He still had the package with the brick of tea.
Chamba ran up to him, leaving the young monk without a word.
"Guru-ji! Are we returning now?"
"Yes..." said the kitemaker's voice, seemingly disconnected from his body. "We... are ... going." His hair seemed very white in the sunshine.
Then Chamba noticed the package.
"Aren't you going to leave the tea for Lama Dorje? Your friend likes tea, his student said so!"
The other turned to look at him slowly, his dark eyes shining with moisture.
"No," he said, in that strange way again, "I am ... not ...
"But, Guru-ji!" started Chamba.
"You see," the old man suddenly inhaled, "Lama Dorje ... has just died. He does not need tea...anymore!"
Chamba froze. And he thought,
"Mother! Father!" And he visualized the great black bull with its stained body, the blood on the wall. He grew angry and clenched his teeth, squinting his eyes. But before he was swept away by this, he heard Sri Khatvanga give a great exhalation.
"Huh!" it went.
And then two shorter ones.
The old man seemed to have shrunken in size for a moment. Then he straightened up, looking about. Chamba was all eyes, absorbing the sorrow of his friend. He wanted to say something, but did not know what to say. He did not want to speak of rebirth, cycles, circles or the dance of life. For then he saw the black bull and anger attacked his heart. He drove all that away. He watched Sri Khatvanga and was absorbing his sadness, his loss, attempting to be an antidote to his friend's pain and anguish.
"Chamba," came the kitemaker's now whispered voice.
And he handed him the brick of tea, black Tibetan tea, shaped like a little chorten.
The boy was puzzled for a moment.
"Give it," continued the white-haired man, "...in the temple ... on altar ... to ... Buddha! Offering to ... Gift to .... AH! ... Buddha!"
Chamba took it and quickly moved to accomplish this errand. The temple door opened into the darkness within, the thick blanket of coolness within. He could see the reflected lights on the shining golden face of the large seated figure.
In back of him, he heard the young monk suddenly give a sobbing cry. Far overhead, in the unseen sky, he heard the sounds of crows.
CAW CAW cawcawcaw!
"There must have been something, " said the white-haired man to himself.
Chamba watched him, silently, slightly apprehensively. He was full of concern for his old friend.
"...there are medicines..." mumbled the other. "if I had known .... then Dorje..."
Chamba watched, sharing the pain.
"Dorje," said the old man. "I could have helped if...
And he looked about at the kites, scowling.
"If I hadn't been playing...If I was learning something worthwhile! "
"It is too late," suggested Chamba, hesitantly.
The kitemaker's brows came together, the whirlpool of hair constricted tightly by folds of flesh.
"It is not too late!" he snapped.
"Ah..." started Chamba, who immediately was overwhelmed by a feeling of inadequacy in facing this problem.
"Life and death! " said Sri Khatvanga. "Light and darkness! To have one, you must overcome the other! To overcome that other ... you must......you must ... have..."
"Knowledge?" suggested Chamba.
Sri Khatvanga turned to him with red eyes, stroking the whiskers of his beard.
"Yes, Chamba. We must have knowledge..."
"Yes, Guru-ji," said the boy, slightly frightened by the tone of the other's voice.
"That is what we will do! We will gather knowledge .... even if it takes us a hundred lifetimes! Correct, Chamba?"
The boy was shivering, energy cascading through his muscles.
"Yes, Guru-ji! Whatever you say, GURU-JI!"
"To have light ... you must overcome darkness! But how will that be done?"
Chamba said nothing.
"To overcome darkness .... " mulled the old man, scratching behind his ear, "...ah ... what then, Yes! I know!"
Chamba watched wide-eye.....Seeing everything.
"Of course," Sri Khatvanga laughed. "You must...enter... darkness! Else how can you overcome it? Right, Chamba?"
Chamba nodded numbly, the nod barely perceptible. He sat like this, concentrating his vision on his guru and barely moving, for hours.
"And if life is darkness..." squinted Sri Khatvanga, "then darkness is ... Ah cha!" And the man's eyes seemed to pop wide open for a moment of whiteness.
"But what to do ... what to do first?"
The old man wobbled where he sat.
Chamba touched his sleeve.
"Sleep," he said.
Sri Khatvanga looked at him, bleary-eyed.
"Yes," he said, slowly sagging, leaning over and settling down to sleep.
"Sleep," said Chamba, touching the old man's forehead with two fingers of his right hand. And the old man slept a sound, dreamless sleep.
Chamba did not. He sat watching, intently watching his friend. He would allow nothing to disturb the sleeping kitemaker. He was absorbing all the pain, protecting him. He did not move. He did not blink. He kept his eyes fixed on his guru's sleeping face, all night long. It was like a thousand years. Kling.
Melody said, "I feel like I'm being watched all the time!"
He looked at her as they strolled past the shops full of aluminum dishes, ribbons, bolts of cloth, western-style clothes. They were walking their bicycles because the crowd was too dense for riding, even if they did use their bicycle bells.
"Bring! Brrring!" could only move so many people, so fast and no faster, out of your way. So they were walking. It didn't matter, for they were in no hurry.
"The people?" he smiled. "It might be your shorts. You've got a lot of leg showing."
"No," she said, shaking her yellow hair. "Not the people. There's enough of that, but they do it quietly.... I mean...."
A cow came lumbering slowly along. It separated them, each to either side of the narrow street.
When they rejoined, he repeated, "What, then?"
"The eyes...." she said, shifting hers to and fro.
"Yes, like those!" And she pointed at a wooden doorway. On it were carved a pair of large eyes. Long lashes, with enormous pupils, staring straight out.
"And they're everywhere .....
"Little ones, big ones, carved ones..."
"Painted ones..." he chimed in.
"It's not funny!" she said, glaring at him with her green- grey eyes.
"It is just their religion.........or superstition..." he said.
"Well," she said, lifting up her shoulders in a quick gesture, "it gives me the whim-whams..."
"Hey," he said. "It's supposed to remind you of god... the presence ... the light......something like that ... always around you..."
"Well," she said, unconvinced, "why are these gods always watching?"
"Maybe guard-duty," he laughed. "To know what's going on and protect everyone..."
"Seems more like..."
They moved their bicycles past a small stone stupa with eyes on all sides.
" ... more like..." Melody continued, "a bunch of peeping Toms.... "
"Shiva! Krishna!" he laughed. "The peeping gods of Nepal!"
They passed a wall with a piece of paper glued on it. A pair of watchful eyes stared out of the woodcut print.
"And these stones..." She gestured towards a doorway, through which you could see a columnal lingam raised up in an inner courtyard.
"Every..." she said, "place seems to have one ... either those stupas full of eyes, or these penises!"
He laughed. "Phalluses! Melody! There's a difference...
"Whatever you call them! All painted white, dripping, gooey...."
"And coming up..." he started.
"Yes......coming up, indeed!"
"...through clutching circles...yonis..." he continued.
She pressed her lips tightly together.
"They're symbols of ... universal togetherness ... Matter and energy..." he started. She frowned.
"I know what they're supposed to be..." she said. "But they don't seem to represent anything but themselves doing..."
He said nothing further. The street was clear enough for them to mount their bicycles. They started slowly, avoiding the few people that shared the street with them. Melody pulled ahead. Turning back, she called, "And then, on the top of some of those... !"
"What?" he called to her.
"They have damn faces! Faces ... on the tips!"
She was getting ahead of him.
" ... and they stare at me! The tips..."
He shook his head and concentrated on pumping harder, standing as he peddled. He saw the muscles beneath her shorts working to send the bicycle plunging down the street.
"Have to be careful," he thought. "These Nepalese bikes have such high seats! Don't want anything to happen to... before I get back to our bedroom!"
Melody's muscles pumped and she plunged through space.
Bring! Brring! BRRRing!
"Hey! Wait for me!" he shouted after her.
Afterwards, he studied the full-length tan which she had acquired in Kashmir. He traced his finger along her scar.
"Do you think all lingams have faces?" he asked.
She smiled softly.
"Correction..........eyes."Touching his lips with her index finger.
"Two?" he asked, unbelievingly.
"At least," she said, looking, "one!"
"Well," he laughed, "here's looking at you!"
Her hands traced little patterns on his back
It was night. He stepped onto the porch of the hotel and looked at the sky. It was overcast, but no rain was falling. He stood there a moment and suddenly was struck with light. A window across the avenue became a yellow rectangle of light. Someone had come into the room carrying a lantern. The street itself had electric lights, but the buildings were only just beginning to get them. The one opposite him did not have electric light yet.
In the flickering yellowness were thrown shadows, slanting against a wall, moving this way and that. A person, he thought, but it was not clear.
One of the dark forms was the source of the shadow itself. A woman. A tall young woman.
He felt strange watching, wondering if he were visible on his porch, like a Hundu god, watching.
The dark figure turned and faced the light, in profile to him. It was a European woman. He could tell by her dress. Otherwise he may have made a mistake. She was dark-haired and tanned. Or at least partially tanned, as he soon discovered.
In one quick motion, the woman pulled her flimsy dress over her head and dropped it somewhere in the shadows. She wore no bra and there was little else. While he watched in stunned surprise, she twisted and stooped and soon wore nothing. It seemed as if it had happened quite quickly, but he also had the simultaneous feeling that it continued for a long time. She reached behind her head and lifted her long dark hair. There seemed to be miles of it. Above her head, she held it and twisted in the light, her breasts quivering.
He thought, "It's as if... she were dancing ... or looking in a mirror ... or..."
She turned fully, facing the street, light striking her from the side, making deep valleys of shadows and great mountains of light.
"Does she see me? Does she know I'm here?" He decided not to wait to find out, but turned and went back into his room.
Melody sat near the bed.
"How's the weather?" she asked.
"Cloudy," he answered.
"Monsoon rains are due," she said.
He said nothing.
He came back to the room and heard voices. Melody had company. A woman.
"Hello!" said Melody cheerfully.
"Hello," he said cautiously, looking at the visitor, who sat facing the window with her back towards the door. She was smoking, and sat in a position with one leg dangling over the other.
"This is Dee St. John," said Melody.
The dress looked familiar to him. The dark hair, tied in a bun, did not register.
She turned and smiled, shifting the cigarette to her other hand. "How do you do?" she said, standing up and reaching out to shake his hand. Her body moved beneath the fabric of the dress.
It was the woman he had seen in the window the night before.
"I am... fine," he said. "How ... are you?"
Her eyes seemed as if they knew him, looking him up and down.
"Oh," she said, biting on her lower lip, then breaking into a smile. "I'm... fine. I'm always fine!"
"Fine!" said Melody, putting her hands together, palm to palm, as if applauding. "Now you two know each other!"
"Not yet..." said Dee, grinning.
Melody and Dee St. John had met at the U. S. Consulate. They had been checking to see if any mail had come to Nepal addressed to them. Neither had received anything, but they fell in together chattering and exchanging life-histories. He was not exactly sure what they saw in each other to start the friendship, but start it did. Perhaps Melody was beginning to become lonesome for female conversation as compared to the male run-of-the-mill talk which he supplied. what Dee St. John was after soon became evident to him. However, he did not point it out to Melody, feeling that it might become the beginning of an unnecessary argument.
Dee St. John was two or three years older than Melody, but a generation in time ahead of her when it came to experiences. She was travelling around the world in a nondirect line, zig-zagging here and there.
"Just for the fun of it," she explained.
She saw things and did things, making friends and leaving friends, as the mood suited her. What money she had was not clear. But how she managed to overlap into the finances of new friends became perfectly clear. Nothing outrageous, just some cigarettes here and some suppers and lunches there. Melody must have noticed that Dee St. John never seemed to have any of her money handy when a bill was to be paid. But Melody did not mind, finding the darkhaired woman charming and entertaining. She seemed to know everything about Nepal.
"You must go to Bhadgeon...!" she was telling Melody, staring into her eyes and laughing. Melody felt that she suddenly had an elder sister who could show her about.
He watched all this carefully. And as time went on, he felt that he had to watch it even more carefully.
Dee St. John had recently come from Kabul with her friend Joseph. He never discovered Joseph's last name. She was living with him across the street behind the window through which he had first seen her. And as he had halfexpected, it was a matter of time before Joseph showed up with Dee. His finances were no puzzle. He was almost completely broke. So frequently he came along as they looked at the exotic sights of the valley. Of course, since he was there with them, when they ate somewhere, they paid his way. It was all chickenfeed as far as he was concerned. They were just harmless moochers. Dee being more amusing than Joseph, since she exaggerated events in her life more.
"And in Goa ... Goa's a place you must visit! ... this local ... he thought bb.cause I was on the beach alone ... a western woman, that I wanted him... Imagine this greasey...'
"But how did you..." started Melody, surprise in her voice and eyes.
"..... get away?" laughed Dee. "The only way I could! I charged him!"
" ... you mean you... actually...?" asked Melody.
Joseph looked at his free drink
He watched Dee's eyes. They shifted and he caught her in a lie.
"No, of course not, honey!" said Dee, looking up at him at that moment, seeing if he could tell if she were speaking the truth. "I just told him that I would! It frightened him off. I was too expensive!"
"Ten rupees," smiled Joseph, because he knew the story.
"One dollar and fifty cents!" laughed Dee St. John.
Melody laughed uncertainly. He forced a smile.
"Were you there Joseph?" he asked the man.
The other glared at him. "What do you mean by that?" Joseph's voice turned ugly for the first time.
He smiled to himself. Ah, caught him off-guard!
"I mean," he said to three pairs of eyes, "Joseph, have you been to Goa?"
The other smiled sheepishly and nodded. "Yeah. I've been there ... nice ... place..."
The ten rupees and the beach did not come up again.
They travelled about Kathmandu Valley together. Dee acted as tour guide and Joseph as the official spokesman when there was any bargaining to do at any of the little shops, such as Bodhinath. There were many little sculptures there which caught his eyes and Joseph made himself as useful as he could, even though in the long run nothing was purchased. Joseph had a head full of bits and pieces of many languages. The shopkeepers had bits and pieces of many languages as well. Sometimes between the pieces a great deal of communication could be held. Most of this so-called "almost" art dealing left Melody and Dee slightly restless.
"You fellows do as you please, we're off!" said Dee.
He looked up.
"What do you mean?"
Joseph paid no attention.
The women were on their bicycles and peddling off around the curve of Bodhinath Stupa. of each other's company?" He fumbled with the doorknob.
I'd like to be alone with her once in a while!"
The door was locked.
He frowned and knocked with two sharp raps.
There were movements inside, and noises at the door. Melody opened it a crack and smiled out at him.
She looked as if she had been napping and he had wakened her.
"Why the locked... ?" he began and then he heard Dee's voice call, "Hey man! C'mon in!"
He saw her lying on the bed, smoking, looking at the ceiling.
Melody stood still, holding the door, smiling a sheepish grin. "Yes," said Melody, "C'mon in!"
He stepped into the room and smelled an odor which he had last smelled in Srinagar. He associated it with Patrick. His lips tightened.
"Come..." said Dee, now turning towards him on one elbow, "join the par ... tee!"
"Get out!" he told Dee, who responded with an arched eyebrow.
"What's wrong?" asked Melody with a foolish smile leaping back onto her face.
"Hey! You're smoking...! What's the idea?" He started to answer.
Dee stood up and took another drag, exhaling slowly with half-shut eyes. "This isn't New York City, man! You're okay here... it is cool...to..." Dee began.
He cut her short.
"To hell with that! It's not safe anywhere ... that' stuff'..."
"Please..." said Melody, looking back and forth between them.
"No worse than alcohol," laughed Dee, not moving.
"Get out..." he repeated more quietly, but firmly.
"Suits me," said Dee, starting to move.
"Wait..." interrupted Melody, looking panicked. "This is my room as much as ... "
"We're not going to have any of that here...!"
"Then," smiled Melody, "we'll go across the street!"
"Don't you understand? Have you been at this all afternoon so you can't understand... ?"He was holding onto
Melody's arm and grimacing as he spoke. The afternoon heat was making perspiration run down his back.
"Nothing wrong with..." started Dee.
"Shut up!" he snapped at her. Her smiling calmness infuriated him.
"Be reasonable...."smiled Melody, slightly-unconvincingly.
"I'm gonna go, no use causing trouble between....
Melody now grew angry.
"You're not doing it! He's the one! I'm not a child...
"Like hell you will!"
"I'm going," whispered Dee.
"And I'm going with you!" glared Melody.
Both women left. The door slammed. And his anger grew and shifted back and forth into pride and more anger.
"Let her go!" he thought.
But the time it had ebbed enough to allow him to make a move, the footsteps on the stairs had long faded.
Downstairs in the courtyard, their bicycles were gone. He stepped out of the gateway. They had not gone across the street.
"M'msahibs went to town someplace," offered one of the houseboys.
Across the street came Joseph, smiling, unaware of any of the events. "Ready for supper?" he asked.
"Son of a bitch!" he thought to himself. "Consistent to the last moment!" He shook his head. "No Melody and no Dee, but here is Joseph in time for a free meal!"
"Where are the girls?" asked Joseph.
"They I ve gone to town." Joseph looked puzzled. "Said you'd know where they went."
He looked slightly apprehensively at the other. "Town? Uh...Shall we wait for them?" "No. Let's go..." He waved at the bicycles. " ... Uh ... where?" Joseph was being evasive. "You lead the way...." "I dunno..." started the other. " ... or there'll be no supper tonight!" Joseph looked at the smiling face and thought, "He's laughing. It's......... okay. He's laughing!" "Well?" "Sure! C'mon! Supper ... here we come!"
Ha Ha hahahah.
Joseph could not, or would not, find them.
They bicycled in the dark streets, using the dim lights fixed to the handlebars. They also used the lights leaking from cracks in doorways, or rectangles of yellow, to steer them clear of buildings on either side of the alleyways down which they wandered.
Every so often, Joseph would signal for him to stop. It was one postage-stamp restaurant or tea room after another.
"Tearoom?" he asked.
"Yeah, he likes this one," said Joseph, watching the reactions of his companion.
"Hole in a hole..." he muttered.
One table, a dozing man and brightly-colored Indian movie actress calendars, vulgar and sedate at the same time.
"Which century are these streets in?" he would ask himself.
Finally they were stopping at dark alleyways. Joseph would vanish, splashing to some interior rooms, out of sight. After a time he would reappear.
"Naw, not there."
He did not even ask what "there" was. He did not want to know.
Joseph tired of this quickly. "How about taking a break for supper?"
He knew if he rejected the plan he would get no further aid from Joseph.
"Okay, where shall we go? It's getting late."
"Globe," said Joseph, "should still be operating..."
They bicycled back towards the electric-lit main streets. To the side, near the post office a block away, they found the Globe Restaurant, brightly-lit with ten bicycles locked up in front.
"Good," smiled Joseph happily, leaping up the few steps to the screened entrance. All of the room could be seen at a glance, all seven tables. And all the customers could be seen as well. Neither Melody nor Dee was......there. They entered and found some room at one table, amidst the jabber of half a dozen languages. The smoke was mostly tobacco.
"Hey man!" yodelled Joseph to the dark-haired man already eating across from them. The man looked up.
It was Patrick. He recognized him immediately, but Patrick did not seem to know him at first glance. His attention was caught by Joseph's exuberance.
"Joseph!" said Patrick.
"Patrick!" said Joseph again.
"Patrick..." he said softly. "Do you..."
The other looked in his direction sharply, and recogni tion flashed in his eyes. "Didn't I meet you in Kashmir?" He knew the answer as he asked the question.
"Yes..." he started to answer.
Patrick smiled, squinted and looked towards the door.
"Where's that chick of yours? Ah..."
"Melody," he said flatly, almost tonelessly.
"Yeah," grinned Patrick, putting some food into his mouth and talking around it. "Mel-Low-dee ... Yeah...Mellow... Dee ... ! She around in Nepal?"
"Yeah, Yeah," said Joseph, smiling from ear to ear. "And guess who else...?"
"Oh?" said Patrick, putting more food into his mouth and chewing.
"Dee! Dee St. John," grinned Joseph, almost proudly.
Patrick squinted, chewed his food slowly, smiling all the while.