PART 1,2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910,11,1213
The dog did not reappear for three years.
The black magician slowly reestablished his grip of fear over the populace. Some of this inevitably rubbed itself off onto Chamba. And to a lesser degree, Meba. They were quite careful not to offend the black guru. And people, in their turn, were quite careful not to offend either Chamba or Meba, his associates.
Some people considered them his apprentices. While others thought that they were his creations, illusionary beings, like the dog, which might vanish at any moment and become invisible.
At night sometimes Chamba could hear the magician talking to himself. or was it to himself? It sounded as if a dog answered him in low noises. Was the beast still around? Was it invisible, or in some non-material form? He was worried at first. But when the dog did not reappear, and nothing
happened to make him believe that this would happen, he relaxed.
"I do not wish any harm done to Meba," he thought.
He said as much.
"I wish no harm to come to you," he told her.
She nodded, her brown eyes shining. Her brown eyes had remained as large as they had been, but now were closer to the level of his eyes. She had grown taller.
To insure her safety, or at least to contribute to it, he fashioned an amulet. It took the form of the star diagram which had been stuck to the glue-pot. He went to a great deal of trouble to insure that it was colored properly. He obtained and ground special materials and painted the bits and portions of the star.
"Wear this," he smiled, "so if it ... evil ... returns ... you shall be safe."
It dangled on a red string between her small breasts.
As time continued on, the amulet rested in a deeper and warmer valley.
Chamba came back to the shop with a bundle of old pages. Sri Khatvanga looked up from grinding a red powder. "What is this?" "Books! Scriptures! Mantras!" laughed Chamba. The black guru pursed his lips and squinted at them.
Chamba put them in a pile before him. "I traded them from some pilgrim...!" he laughed.
"Pilgrim, he called himself!" Chamba laughed. "But dice player... I would have called him!"
They both laughed and started to turn over the pages.
"Ah cha!" gasped Sri Khatvanga.
Chamba beamed. "Good, eh? Guru-ji?" pleased with himself.
"Good? Excellent ... " shook thehead of the black magician. "These are so rare! .... Difficult ... also..." And he began to frown.
"What is it?" asked Chamba.
The magician was troubled and angry. "They are closed to me!
"We shall decipher them, Guru-ji..." laughed Chamba.
"No ... not we...not we..." said the other.
"What do you mean?" asked Chamba in a concerned voice.
The magician looked up at him, darkness in his eyes.
"You must do it! I cannot. You..."
"But you are the greater..."
The black-bearded man looked down at his hands. "I am not qualified..." he said, grinding his teeth.
"You are more qualified than I!" insisted Chamba. "There are so many things that I have not done..."
"That's just it!" glared the other, his eyes appearing through slits. "You have never slept with a woman ... a prerequisite!"
Meba entered the room with two cups of steaming tea.
The magician quickly looked back and forth from her to Chamba and back. "or have you?" he snapped.
Chamba was flustered. He looked at Meba and then back at the black guru who was waiting for his answer. "Have I what?" he asked, trying not to speak of the subject, since Meba was in the room.
"Made love to a woman?" scowled the magician, expecting the worst in the young man's reply.
"No, Guru-ji..." he whispered.
"No, what? Be clear!"
Chamba gulped and looked at Meba, standing with the two steaming cups of tea. "No I have not consorted-with a woman... I have not made love with any woman..."
Sri Khatvanga smiled one smile.
Meba smiled another.
The dog just appeared one day. Chamba was ready for an attack. He was ready to strike it with a long stick.
"That is not necessary," said the magician. "it Will behave... it will only act on my orders-And in that case..." The black eyes observed, "...stick and charm will do no good. It will be a good dog." Then the black guru turned to the dog. "Sit!" And the dog sat down obediently.
Chamba watched the dog apprehensively.
Meba watched Chamba in another way.
Sri Khatvanga observed it all.
"Chambal" said Sri Khatvanga, the dog sitting at his feet.
"Meba!" called the black guru. Chamba became nervous.
She appeared in the doorway. "Yes, Sri Khatvanga?" she asked.
"It is time," the bearded man replied to them both.
"Time?" asked Chamba.
"Yes.Time for you to take Meba,"itaid the magician, causing Chamba's heart to skip a beat, "with you, and go to the Himal."
"Oh," said Chamba, slightly disappointed.
"Yes, Sri Khatvanga," said Meba expressionlessly.
"You both," said the magician, "will go to the Himal, where I shall designate..."
"Yes?" asked Chamba, wondering if he were to practice sleeping with...
"There, you, Chamba," the man gestured, "will be buried alive for...
"Alone?" Chamba asked.
The other laughed. "Of course! Meba will camp nearby to give you food-or if there is an emergency.
"Buried?" asked Meba, puzzled.
The magician scowled. "Chamba will be in complete darkness for... the time ... He will see no one ... hear no one..." Meba frowned. "What will I do?" asked Chamba. The magician stared at him. "Use every moment! Recite, chant ... those scriptures-mantras
"You will smell them.. see them-do ... BE-them!"
"Ah cha," said Chamba nervously.
"And," asked Meba, "will he need me-for anything?"
The black guru smiled. "Of course he will!"
Meba smiled happily. But the magician dashed her daydreams. "His food and water! Without you, he would starve!"
"But..." she said.
"Nothing else!" snapped the guru.
"Nothing else?" Chamba stated.
"Nothing.She is not to talk to you, or you see her... When she brings food, you must look away and she be as still as the dead..."
"How will I know he is not, dead...?"
"You will not know, except for the empty food bowl..."
"And I ... what will I know of her?"
Sri Khatvanga smiled. "All that you need to! That she feeds you and gives you drink and..."
"And?" Chamba asked, not feeling very hopeful.
"And," smiled the black eyes of the magician, "that she is there, a few hundred yards away... all the time. All the time that you are chanting and becoming ... those mantras ... "
The dog opened one yellow eye and immediately closed it. Chamba wanted to kill it. Sri Khatvanga recognized his wish and knew its source.
"Geshe-la," he said.
"Yes?" answered the lama.
"These seedsthese seed syllableswhat is the necessity of them?"
"You must plant them, so as to control the forces the body of forces"
"Forces-lines of force-in my body?"
"Theentire field-body! Of forces, not just "Geshe-la?" he inquired.
"Yes?" the lama replied.
"Can you do that?"
"No, I cannot"
"But then, what is the necessity?"
"Mah a- Guru- Chamb a
"The other-the magician.....Chamba......"
"That is my name!"
"Yes, in fact" smiled the lama broadly. "remember"
"So, if you
"Remember? What are you talking about? Of course I remember! It is the name you gave me ... !"
The lama looked sad, realizing his slip, his anticipation.
"The necessity..." Dharma Dorje began again, "is that someonenamed Maha-Guru-Chamba ... possesses many of these seeds alreadyand he gave many to Sri Khatvanga..."
"Sri Khatvanga? The man I met in the village before... it... swept away?"
"Yes.He has many of the seeds..."
"But the slide must have killed him!
"He was not in the slide..." said the lama.
"Oh yes, something strange," he said. "I remember something strange. . . "
"All beings..." said the lama, "depend upon you!"
"To save them."
"Huh? How is that? I was at the village and Lthey got no benefit! A lot of good I did for them! I barely got out alive! Drelhu... "
"Calm yourself! Calmness is extremely important."
"If every being depends on me ... They're in trouble!'"
The lama traced little diagrams with his finger on his knee. "Better you," Dharma Dorje said, "than Sri Khatvanga!" "I don't know..." "Yes," said the lama. "You do not know!"
"You must do your best!"
"Ah," he started. "Perhaps I can just ... ha ha...destroy Sri Khatvanga!"
"Do not say that!" scowled the monk, his grey-green eyes flashing. "It is a waste of time to take that approach! He cannot be destroyed without..."
"Without ... what?" he asked.
"Nothing," said the lama, catching himself. "He cannot be destroyed! That is all!"
"That's a lot of help," he muttered to himself. "Save everybody? Fight with magic weapons against...who? Sri Khatvanga? Chamba? Myself? This is a lot of double-talk!"
"Drelhu will help you learn as much as possible..."
"For what purpose?"
"To save..." began the lama.
"Yes, yes, I know! All beings! Dammit!"
The lama paled. "Do not curse! You must stop that habit! Now!"
He stared back at the grey-green eyes. "Okay. Sure," he said. "Why not? Shucks! Gosh ... gee...golly ... GUMDROPS!"
He could not understand the lama's aversion to a few cursewords. "What does it matter anyway?" he thought. "Why not? It doesn't make any difference, does it?"
He lay on his back staring at the mandala over his head. It was so hard to see. Those colors ...
He closed his eyes. But he still saw the colors. In fact, they were brighter, clearer. It was as if the sun had risen. And everything was clear...Oh, what a brightness!
It stabbed at him and he cried out.
His eyes opened and it was darkness again. The moonlight was so dull compared to ... that inner sunlight. He felt the dried blood on his wounds.
"Oh-this is ... " he thought, "unbearable.'"
He closed his eyes in exhaustion and was startled to attention.
Everything was brighter again! Rims of colors twisted one within another! Bright greens into blues ... These! AM These-in turn changed into nimbus ... orange! Cold! Reverberating ... pulsing! Pulsing.
Somewhere in the corners of his vision, the four corners, were smaller bulls-eyes of concentric circles. They also pulsed, but in a different rhythm. What is that? Vibrating...
In the centers there were ... Oh!
In the center ... the great center ... was ...
It was unseen. It almost frightened him. But slowly this faded. Bright!! Bright!
Was it a figure? A pyramid? A mountain ... ?
Blue! It was blue! And it was a person.
"Oh, who ... WHO are you?" he called up at the figure, looking down at him where he lay bleeding.
"Who..." And he decided that he could not be proud, he could not swim in the pride of his stupidity, and he asked, "...help ... PLEASE..." He gasped. "Please help me!"
He burst into tears, feeling them flowing out of his body with his blood. But they did not clot, they did not crack and stab him. He tasted their salt as they ran near his lips.
He opened his eyes again.
Everything was pitch black. The moon was gone.
He closed his eyes and panicked. It remained equally as dark. Open or closed ... He saw nothing!
"Ah-h-h!" he exhaled, half-believing that it was his las breath.
He smelled the dirt of the floor in the chorten gateway. And he waited a long time.
"Well," he thought, "that other one wasn't ... ow ... my
Nor the next one,or the next one.
As he waited for death, pain ran through him, reverberating, vibrating. It oscillated in his broken bones. It surged in his muscles. It pumped out of the rips in his skin.
"Hell-l-l-pp!" he screamed at the darkness.
And he waited. Pain danced through him, in his bones, in his muscles. It danced out of the "issures in his skin. He felt wet pain dry and then he felt dry pain-crack!
Color seemed to appear above him again. But this time his eyes were wide open. He closed them. The colors remained. He opened them. They still were visible.
"Ah-h-h!" He clenched his teeth. "Ah-h-h! There's no help! No help for it! I'm .... Ah-h-h!"
The colors danced and drummed on his eyes. Circles within circles. They moved to the rhythms of the reverberations, the vibrating of the pain. He watched this amazed. He moved an arm, barely an inch, with a surge of pain as a consequence, the images flared in unison with the wave of anguish. He laughed.
"Well! We're synchronized! Color movie! Ha Ha hahahahl In time with my miseries!!"
It came with his laughter as well, for that hurt his ribs.
Ha Ha HAHAHAH!
BLUE BLUE Blueblueblue!
Ha Ha hahahah!
RED RED Redredred!
"Very funny!" he thought, and in the midst of dying, he played with the colors.
"I see it! I see them!"
The oscillations changed, as the feelings came and went in various parts of his body.
"Such a ... SUFFERING! Such ... a... I never have had such..."
"Such a ... Blue! Such ... a... I never have had such ... "
And he began to look forward to messages from his limbs, his torso, his pain-wracked interior.
"Well! Well! I am de ... lighted! Look! Well, well!"
HA HA Hahah!
GREEN GREEN Greengreengreen!
One great one ... four smaller...!
"What is that?"
"Yes, again. Pyramid. Mountain. Person? Are you back ... Reverberating... ? Where were you when I needed you? When I had pain! I had to ... had to ... do it ... myself!"
All alone. He lay all alone on his back in the chorten, looking up at the mandala. The sun bounced light back and forth from the landscape surrounding Cho Tabla. He saw more and more clearly as the day progressed.
"Is that a Buddha or a lama?"
He asked of the cracked image above him.
"Like a mirror," he thought.
Sleepily, he got up, dusted himself off and looked at the running water below. "I'm thirsty," he said, and ran down to the Chu Po for a drink.
"Wait a minute," he thought after drinking his fill from the cold water. He was trying to remember something.
"What is it?"
He looked back up towards the chorten. Beyond it he could see the ruins of a large gompa. The roof was down, some of the walls were still standing.
"What a desolate place! "
And he started to make his way back up the hillside.
"Where am I?"
He looked back and forth and finally saw some green to south. "Could that be near the ravine? I can't recall landmarks ... and what-what..."
The sun began to become hot. He dusted himself off and looked at his hands.
"All sunburnt ... tanned ... dried-beginning to crack.. he laughed.
He walked upwards to find some shade in the gateway chorten. "Hot... is it hot!"
He looked at the stains in the dirt. He touched them.
"Damp," he said. "But what is it?"
"Sticky... ? Is it blood? Who could have been bleeding... What could have been bleeding..."
He was puzzled.
"I slept here! I would have noticed if..."
It did not occur to him whose blood it was, for he had no wounds.
Leaving the coolness of the inside of the gateway chorten, he made his way up a stone stairway towards the gompa. One wall faced him, rising high and seemingly undamaged. But a!~. he worked his way upwards he found portions of the staircase itself obliterated. Huge boulders had been displaced and blocked the way.
"What could have dislodged these?" He looked up to either side. "And where did they come from?"
He touched the boulders with outstretched fingers. They were hot from the sun. That heat gave him pause, for he saw long smokestains and scorch marks.
He gave up the puzzle and found an awkward way around the barriers. As he came upon the gompa from another angle, he saw that the one-angled illusion of a completely sound building was false. Most of the walls were down. In the middle of what seemed a blackened crater of the outer walls, he saw great scorched rooftimbers piled upon an assortment of unrecognizable debris. Here and there he saw the glint of something shining, but he could not tell what it was. Halfway up a far wall, thicker in surviving sections, was an outjutting piece of an upper floor. A door left that to go into a room that seemed to hang intact from the sky. A staircase came down from it, but only halfway. Further off to the left he saw fragments of colors on the wall. It seemed like images, but he could not tell from that distance.
"It really went down!" he said. And he himself made his way downwards toward the main entranceway below.
When he got to it, he found it blocked. Circumambulating the ruin, he sought an opening, an entrance to what was now the main crater of the destroyed building. He kept thinking of the room which had survived, hanging in mid-air. The few openings to the original building were hopelessly clogged with burnt timbers and piles of broken masonry. At one door he found a fragment with a bit of color. It was a painting, a piece of a painting. Just a hand, that was all that had survived. He recognized the outstretched fingers, joined together in unity with the palm, a Buddha's hand. It was the gesture, the mudra, signifying "Fear Not ", the unity of the universe. Looking at it for what seemed a long time, he was reminded of where he was when perspiration ran down his forehead into his eyes.
"Hot!" he said, putting the painting fragment down gently where he had found it. He looked at it there for a moment, signalling the sky "Fear Not" and then stepped away, looking for some shade.
There were no more designed openings in the wall. But there was a huge, three-story gap. It was as if a sword had cleft it, from the roof downwards. For the moment he was not concerned with the history of the gompa. The broken wall allowed him to enter the destroyed inner area, and within that were shadows cast by the huge wall.
As he stepped gingerly within those shadows, it became immediately much colder. He stopped a moment to savour it and to look about. Beneath his feet was a scattering of mortar, planks, and undescribable bits and pieces. When he stepped forward, it all shook and sagged. When he stepped beyond that point, it sprang back.
He looked back to see how far away was the solidity of the cleft in the wall.
"This is not too good an idea," he muttered. "I had better go back."
Right foot. Left foot. Dust rose as he stepped carefully. He heard cracking beneath his feet and froze. He could feel everything rocking. The smell of an old fire rose to greet his nostrils. Even in the cold shadows, he began to perspire freshly.
"Don't move!" he said.
Crr-r-r-ack! Came a whisper beneath his feet.
"Don't breathe!" he thought.
"_r-r-r-rack-k-k..."It seemed to whisper under him.
How long had he stood motionless? He stared at the cleft wall, so near...
Silence.And he was breathing more calmly. He saw a hawk far overhead circle and then vanish. Was it watching him? He watched the shadows shift on the wall and the sunshine thrust a spear ..,.Df heat through the wall opening. It reached towards him.
He decided to make a move. A slow move. He stepped out as far as he could, to spread his weight.
"As on ice, as on thin ice..." he thought. "To spread my weight."
It seemed to be working. He smiled and started to move his other foot. He froze. There was no sound, but he felt a shifting far below him in the buried rubble. He paused, listening with all his nerve endings. The sunlight strained towards him, but did not reach him.
"CRR-r-r-racki"It came loudly and from everywhere beneath him.
"This is it!" And he made a leaping step towards the opening in the wall. He grabbed its edge, just as everything fell out from beneath him. Dangling in space for a moment, he crawled out onto the solid outer rocks. The heat struck him across the back. He was glad to feel it, rolling further away from the building, hearing the crashing debris and timbers plunging to some unkmown depths. Crashing and crashing.
Dust came crawling out of the cleft in the wall. Dust of burnt wood. Dust of ashes. A crawling dust that rose black and moved out to settle on him. He coughed and coughed.
"Too close!" he muttered.
"Too close!" came a voice from over him somewhere.
"What... ?" He spun. There was no one anywhere that he could see.
"Imagination!" he mumbled. "I'm listening to my own voice! "
"Too Close!" It came again. Now he knew where it was coming from. The room! That room hanging in mid-air! He felt that it was a threat. He wanted to get out of sight of that room that seemed to have defied the destruction which struck down the rest of the gompa.
"I don't know what..." he started to say. "But I'm going to get..."
And before he could move, he saw the door of that room swinging open.
He stared and waited, half-expecting someone to step out, to walk out into that gulf of air. No one emerged.
"Who's there?" he shouted, suddenly frightened, all out of proportion to the events of the last few moments.
"Dorje!" called thb. voice. "Dorje!"
He was puzzled.
"Who's there?" he called once more."
"I am..." the voice came down from the room, "Dorje...
"Dorje..." said the voice, "Drelhu!"
"Who?" he asked himself in a whisper.
After that, silence fell. The black dust of the burnt building settled. He waited for further sounds, but there were none.
The shadows began to be everywhere.
The shadows were collecting and deepening in Cho Tabla.
He gathered some wood and made his way to a spot under an overhanging rock. He worked at starting a fire.
"I doubt if it'll rain..." he said, looking at the sky growing darker, with stars slowly appearing. "But it'll be cold to-night!"
The fire caught and he fed it.
He gathered a good amount of firewood, some of it already slightly burnt.
He looked at the dark mass of the dead gompa, adding wood to his fire, making it a good size. He squatted back in a corner of the rock wall, squinting beyond the flames. The light did not carry as far as the gompa wall. He kept trying to see it.
"Maybe it's haunted," he said, laughing at his own apprehensions.
It was then that he heard something knocking some pebbles down the stone staircase nearby. And it was then that he saw the yellow eyes reflecting the light from his fire.
The eyes stayed their distance in the blackness of the enveloping night. He picked up a burning stick to protect himself and waited.
"No sleeping tonight," he thought. And he was quite right.
Out of the blackness leaped a huge shape. He saw the yellow spots and thrust forward the burning wood.
The creature seemed to leap right through his defenses.
"Get off!" he shouted.
It gripped his shoulder within its fangs and started to tear and snap.
It shifted its teeth to his throat.
DorjeDrelhu flew down from the suspended room.
It was too late. The animal had done its work and was gone.
Leaning down, he picked up the bloody man. "The lama must help him. The lama must bring him back to life!"
And saying that, Drelhu flew with his cargo to the house just above the village, just above the Chu Po.
Looking down, the monkey-man said, "Ahl The pity of it!"
"OhlOH-H-H!" he moaned.
Pain moved everywhere in his body, in the world! He felt everything tightening, his jaw muscles, his fists, his stomach, in an attempt to drive it away.
"H-r-r-r-R!" his clenched teeth said. "H-r-r-r!"
The monkey-man looked down at him sympathetically,
"Ah, little brother! Say Hwi instead ... H-r-r-ril'' "Hr-r-r-rj he groaned. And then finally, "H-r-r-ri ... "Good!" said Dorje Drelhu. "Good! It will help! Hri ... "Hri! H-r-r-ri..." said the bloody man. And finally shouting in his suffering, "Hri! H-R-R-R-RR-i-i-i-i-i--i--i--! "Better!" laughed Drelhu, hopping from one foot to another. "Better all the time!''
"Where are they?" asked Chamba.
"Everywhere," came the answer.
He was watching and doing.
Then he was doing and watching.
Here and there.
There and here at the same time.
What is the difference?
What does it matter?
He nodded slowly.
He was buried. He was alive, but he was buried nonetheless. He sat in the darkness trying not to think of anything except the words, his memorized words.
"KA! KHA! GAAI NGAI"
"KA!! KHA! GAA! NGAI"
He recited loudly and they came back to him from the walls of his self-made tomb.
one hundred and eight steps away, Meba sat near her tent. She could hear him chanting. In her loneliness, she too chanted, but in a whisper.
"Ka.Kha. Gaa. Nga."
"Ka.Kha. Gaa. Nga."
It was something which Sri Khatvanga had not counted on.
"TAITHAI TA! TA! TRA!"
Reverberated the tomb.
"Ta. Tha. Ta. Ta. Tha."
The sun rose. The sun set.
The moon rose.
"What?" he asked.
"Brought you to
"life! He gave you life!''
"Well," said the other, looking at the blue square of a window, "Thank him for me''
"Yes, yes-s-s-s" said the broad smiling mask.
"Geshe-la..." he began.
"Yes, Chamba," answered the lama, looking up from his scriptures.
"Who is Dorje Drelhu?''
"Ah ... someone," smiled the lama, "that I gave human form.''
"Gave human form?" he asked, puzzled. "Axe you his father?''
The lama laughed softly, making a pattern on his knee with his little finger.
"No, not like that! He was a monkey ... I converted him into a man.''
"Converted? Don't you mean transformed?''
The lama did not answer.
"But ... what do you mean?"
"Ah," said the lama, folding his hands together in his lap. "I mean," said the grey-green eyes looking at him directly, "I changed him from a monkey . into a man."
He nodded numbly, but did not ask any further questions.
Drelhu flew to the window.
"Hello, Chamba!" he grinned.
"Can't you use the door?"
"Sometimes," said Drelhu, climbing in through the window.
Chamba shook his head.
"Are you sure that Geshe-la did not make you from a bird?"
"Chirp, chirp," mocked Drelhu.
"HA HA Hahahahl"
"Will you teach me to fly?" he smiled.
Drelhu grinned at him. "Younger Brother," he said, "I only teach birds to fly! You must become a bird first... "
Chamba smiled. "Should I jump from rooftops ... to practice?"
Suddenly the monkey-man was angry. "Don"t do that! Don't even say that! Idiocy! Stupidity ... You'll kill yourself!"
"But..." Chamba said stunned, "I was only joking!"
"It is no joke!"
"Bad joke..." he started.
"No joke!" said the monkey-man. "Don't assume ... that you know..."
"I don't know .... I don't say that I know.... "
"You act as if ... " frowned Dorje Drelhu, "you know how to learn .... foolish! ... to do something ... that..."
"I'm sorry," said Chamba. "I've upset you..."
"If you listen to your own stupid jokes ... " grimaced Drelhu, "You'll kill yourself..."
A silence fell between them.
Chamba finally broke it, afraid that in the process he might get the other scolding again. "I shall be..very... careful."
"Fine," said the broad flat mask. "'Fine!"
Chamba grew exhausted. He saved his voice and in the darkness waited. "I'll think," he thought. "I'll think the mantras..." He thought. He thought that he recited. The syllables were deeper. The syllables were higher, as well. Even in such mental constructions, he could imagine reverberations from the nearby walls. Everything remained dark.
In the night air, under an upper world of stars that came down to a lower world of mountain silohuettes, Meba sat, chanting the same syllables which he thought, sound for sound.
He could not hear her, but she could hear him.
In the sky before her appeared a golden disc. It was not the sun or the moon. It grew circles of blue, rings of white...
"KLING KLING-ng-ng-ng," she heard.
It did not surprise her.
Chamba despaired in his imprisonment. Meba was ecstatic under the parasol of stars.
The golden discs moved and divided, cutting themselves into sections. Nine sections. Only the central one being perfectly square.
And then in the pieces floated numbers, one for each. A singledigit number in blue for each.
Meba radiated warmth and light in the cold Himalayan night.
"When can I fly?" Chamba asked.
"It is not necessary" began Sri Khatvanga.
"Can you?" pressed the other.
"I do not need to fly," evaded the black guru.
"San you?" insisted Chamba.
"You are very disrespectful" returned the dark eyes.
Chamba was flying over Khatmandu. But no one could see him. He sailed close to the temple tops, swooped above the vegetable sellers. But no one paid him any attention. "Why. is it?" he asked himself. "It is because this is a dream! " he answered.
"Why not?" "
What is to prevent it?"
" ... might as well... "
"If I don't have.. ."
"I have... ."
"Are you a bird? A monkey? A man?"
"What are you?"
"There it goes! Red lights...flashing!"
"Listen carefully-to the...tune ... the music...
Chamba paused a moment, looking at the sleeping dog. He hesitated only for a short while.
"MAHA GURU-JI ... " he started.
Sri Khatvanga cocked an eyebrow at his formality.
"Lesser creatures fly..." he began.
The black guru smiled to himself, thinking, "That approach won't work. . . "
if ... a student... of our enemy..." he continued, "a second-rate magician..."
Sri Khatvanga scowled, the whirlpool of hair twisting.
"...his freak ... the monkey-man..."
The black guru got to his feet suddenly. "Enough!"
Chamba smiled. "Yes, Guru-ji?"
The other towered darkly. "...you!" he gasped, "will have occasion to-acquire the skill!"
Chamba smiled. "Thank you, great guru ... equal to the backbone of the universe..."
"Your praise," scowled Sri Khatvanga, "is closer to the truth than you know! Now ... be ... patient ... be still... for the moment!"
Chamba stopped smiling.
Cig. Nyi. Sum!
"Where has my mother been reborn?"
"Do not think about that... "
"Where is she?"
"Ah cha! Consider.....consider.....her everywhere.....all beings"
"Yes" he sighed, stroking his beard.
"Ah, at one time or another" said the old man. "Ah! As you wish"
"Except," he said, "myself"
The other said nothing.
"HRIMIHRIMI " called Meba loudly.
"Hrim!Hrim!" the mountains reverberated.
Chamba was asleep and he dreamt that he was chanting in his dreams.
"HRIM! HRIM!" he said. But he was outside the tomb, under the stars and he was a woman, a lovely long-darkhaired woman.
"HRIMIHRIM! HUM! PHATI" he/she chanted.
"Hrim!Hrim!" she/he chanted. "Hum! Phat!"
Ecstasy filled his dream. Ecstasy filled the walls of his tomb.
He stared at Melody smoking.
"Damn," he thought. "Who is she? What is she ... doing?"
"She should stop ... now... " he thought. "NOW... " he thought.
He thought to say that. Instead, he said, "Give me a drag..."
She watched him inhale deeply.
"Patrick," she grinned, "should be here any minute with Tharpa..."
"Yeah," he said after exhaling. "Then we can hear his proposition."
"Yes-s-s-s," said Meldoy, tilting her head back and looking at the ceiling.
Her eyes followed the edge of a crack, balancing herself on the edge of the crack.
Chamba stood at the edge of the ravine, poised.
He saw the great river far below, eating the landscape, eating the world.
"Soon ... you shall have me," he addressed the turbulent dancing goddess of waters.
The wind that came from the abyss struck his face coldly. There were touches of spray even at this great a height.
"Sri Khatvanga says," he said aloud, "I should jump!"
His eyes widened at the sight of the depths of such a jump. "One life is only-one... leads only ... to...
The cold wind.
"... another-life ... another and another ... Better to gain..."
The cold spray.
"...knowledge ... accumulate wisdom...life ... ah! .... to life."
He closed his eyes and swayed on the edge between matter and air, life and death.
opening his eyes, he prayed for the ability to remember whatever he would learn.
Then he stepped out, off the cliffside, and plummetted to his death in the river.
"Chamba, my poor Chamba!"
The lines moved horizontally. There were six of them, as if molten gold. They changed and flowed and changed again.
Three solid lines.
Three broken lines.
Hot out of cold.
Chamba had not touched his food. He had not touched his water.
Meba was aware of the black guru's instructions, but she was worried.
"What has happened?"
She listened at the edge of the self-made tomb. She heard nothing and became worried. Considering what to do, she waited for a long time, then suddenly acted. Grabbing the edges of loose stones, she began to pull the sealing wall down, tossing rocks away, in back of her. Creating a large enough entrance, she first squinted into the darkness and then clamoured over the loose stones.
On the ground she saw him, stretched out, arms out wide. His eyes were open and staring at the ceiling of the small cave, unseeingly, like a corpse.
"Chamba!" she screamed. But he did not move. He did not blink.
Putting her ear to his chest, she listened.
"Ah ... " she almost gave up hope. "He is so cold!"
The wind was beginning to whip up the hillside. Meba looked at the racing clouds.
"Is it rain, or is it snow?"
And looking at Chamba, loosening his clothes, "Is it life or is it death?"
It was snow!
And it was coming in suddenly to leave no questions unanswered.
She acted quickly, and climbing out of the tomb, ran through the wind towards her tent, one hundred and eight steps away!
With the tent, materials and food thrown into the cave, Meba quickly began to reconstruct the wall, stone by stone.
"Must hurry... "
Soon the snow was whipping past the tomb and no longer filling it. She looked at Chamba.
"Is he alive or dead?"
Opening her clothing, she pressed her warm torso directly against the cold skin of his body. She wrapped them both in a heavy robe and blew her breath on his face, his ears, his neck.
His eyes closed.
"Chamba..." she said, rubbing him with her hands, moving back and forth on his seeming corpse.
She shivered, having given him so much warmth.
"Hrim.Hrim..." she whispered.
VIVajra ... Phurbu ... Hum!" she massaged.
"Such a cold body!"
And then she felt something stir, as if in another world beneath her. It was a warm spark that moved up his torso.
"Hrim ... hrim... " the corpse said.
"Chamba!" she laughed and cried, hugging him with her ample warmth.
"Vajra ... Phurbu..." he continued, as if far away, coming out of a trance.
"Hum!" she concluded emphatically. "The spell is broken!"
"Spell?" he laughed, rubbing her naked back within the enveloping clothing. "I was dead! You brought me back to life!"
"I can raise the dead! You did not know?" laughed Meba in relief. "I am a secret mountain spirit-not a little girl..."
"Mountain spirit or not," thought the young man, held in such warm proximity to her, "she certainly is no little girl!"
It was quite warm in the tomb. The wind howled outside and drove the show up the mountainside, leaving cracks in the wall for filaments of air to enter and leave.
They both slept soundly, wrapped in each other's arms. Each gave the other warmth. They were like two children lost in the wilderness, sleeping until they could be rescued, or becoming refreshed, find their way home.
"That's it..." said Patrick, looking from them to Dee.
The dark-skinned Tharpa looked at the tip of his American cigarette.
"Do you think it's worth the trouble?" Melody asked.
Joseph did the answering. "You bet! The market's going to pop sky high for that lama stuff!"
"It's sure underrated right now," said Dee.
He looked at her and nodded. "I agree with that, but why do we all have to go? Melody and Dee?"
"Neater that way," smiled Patrick, looking at Joseph and signalling Joseph with a look that said, "Got him hooked!"
"You see," he continued while Tharpa studied the ash on his cigarette, which he held vertically in his hand, "we all go on this trek..."
"For fun," said Dee.
" ... supposed fun... " corrected Melody. "Trekking in the rain!"
"And," said Patrick, "we take a little detour... strip the goodies out of a few deserted gompas beyond the Chu Po..."
"You may be supervised going in," said Tharpa, his dark eyes flashing. "But you will just be identified as some silly Americans ... harmless."
Melody looked at him. He seemed to relish calling them "silly and harmless." She felt a surge of suspicion but said nothing.
"We'd never be able to carry it out ... bronzes and all.. he said.
"Right! " beamed Patrick. "That's where the helicopter comes in!"
"One of us has an accident, or and appendicitis attack.. or something-and we get a 'copter to rescue us..." said Dee.
"And the loot!" laughed Joseph. They all chuckled and set to jabbering to each other simultaneously.
"Wait a minute!" he quieted them. "That's the 'copter's excuse for going up there ... but ... how can we fake appendicitis?"
"False alarm!" roared Joseph, slapping his knee.
"Yes-s-s-s," smiled Tharpa. ... false ... A-la-ram!"
Ha Ha Hahahah!
"How do we get in touch with a 'copter from the north?"
"He'll know when to come," said Joseph.
"No, dammit ... " he snapped. "He's not supposed to know!"
"Oh.Yeah." JoseDh looked at Patrick. Patrick looked at Tharpa. Tharpa looked at his cigarette, then smiled at Dee and Melody.
"There is a wireless," he said.
"At the crossroads of two yak trails?"
Tharpa frowned, and then quickly smiled again, squinting at Melody while he answered. "Ten kilometers from the pickup spot is an army outpost...
"Army!" yelled Joseph, staring at the other. "Are vou crazy! The army will be in on it?"
"No, no ... SIR!" Tharpa smiled. "They are merely the unwitting helpers. "
"Verytricky," he said.
"Stupid," muttered Joseph.
"Theyneed not know where the 'copter really is landing...
"But the soldiers will go back with whoever sends the message for help..." said Dee.
"Yes," said Tharpa. "But they won't get back. They'll go the wrong way ... Ha ha ... You know?"
"But then ... how will they come back?"
"Walkout," said Tharpa.
"Walkin and walk out?" asked Joseph. "And everybody else flies out?"
"With the loot?" asked Dee.
"Yes-s-s-s," said Tharpa.
"Who's walking ... both ways?"
"You and Dee," said Patrick, looking at a map that Tharpa had handed him.
Joseph had a sinking feeling. "All planned, eh?" he said without enthusiasm.
"Neat and tidy," smiled Patrick.
"Honey," chirped Melody. "We'll be rich!"
"We'll all be rich," corrected Patrick solemnly.
Dee said nothing.
"I hope so," said Joseph.
Their trekking permits were validated at an outpost one-third of the way out. It was in a small cowboy-looking ramshackle village still in the corn-growing altitudes. "No coolies?" asked the. official. "No, we are carrying our own packs," laughed Patrick. Joseph scowled, shifting his upon his back. "Rain will bring out leeches," said the man. "We don't mind them," said Joseph. At least, he said that at this time. The official watched the five of them walk up the thin muddy trail.