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Ancient stories:

Sansaaraaranyaye Dadayakkaraya

(The hunter in the wilderness of Sansara)

(Part 16)

The Hunter stood, towering over the Kaku Bodhi plant at his feet, chewing on a large chunk of his thick beard. He did not notice a batticha alighting on his shoulder. The next moment a battichchi joined her mate. The male bobbed its head about, chirping in agitation and finally caught a strand of his beard in beak and pulled gently.

The Hunter touched his face as one would if an ant crawled over cheek or in anxiety bit. The battichcha plucked a few hairs from the Hunterís beard and flew to the Kaku Bodhiya. The battichchi joined her partner instantly. She carried a piece of straw in her beak.

The Hunter turned his eyes towards them with some interest. He noticed that a few strands of straw and grass had already been carefully placed in a crook of the tree close to which the birds were now perched.

The battichcha and battichchi had begun building a nest in the Kaku Bodhi tree.

The Hunter took off down the mountain suddenly as though he had remembered something that he had neglected, measuring his descent with heavy steps. The next moment, remembering something else, he turned and went into the kitchen.

He grabbed a bunch of fruit from a basket and left. He cast his eyes around furtively, perturbed by the unsanctioned act of taking alms meant for the Hamuduruwo. The Hamuduruwo was not visible, but it was as though the ascetic voice grazed his ear in a volume that wavered between audible and inaudible. Perhaps the Hamuduruwo was reciting some gathas as he offered the Buddha Poojawa.

The Hunter stopped at the cave located half way down the mountain and dropped the fruit without fixing his eyes on anything specific. The drummerís daughter was fast asleep, exactly where she had falled, near the drum.

For three days the Hunter brought food to the cave in this manner. His day had been completely transformed. He would go down to the foot of the mountain but didnít venture into the jungle as had been his practice. He gathered some fruit as quickly as possible. He broke a couple of beehives that some bears were feasting on.

The creatures looked at him in surprise as he pushed them aside and grabbed the honeycombs. They were even more amazed by the fact that the Hunter did not pause to exchange pleasantries. They looked at one another and at the receding figure of the Hunter.

As was customary, the Hunter attended to the minute tasks pertaining to the Hamudurusoís needs/ On occasion, when the Hamuduruwo looked at him, the Hunter was not able to suffer the calm and yet intense gaze of the Humuduruwo. He did not meet gaze with gaze.

The drummerís daughter was lost in the realms of deep sleep for three whole days.

And yet, each morning as the Hunter woke up he realized that she had in the middle of the night had her fill of the food he had brought for her. When he looked into the cave, he always found her sprawled across the floor, in deep sleep, as silent as the drum.

The birds were industriously building their nest atop the Kaku Bodhi Tree. As she came closer to motherhood the work on the tree house too grew correspondingly intense.

For a long time thereafter, the Hunter would take up position on various spots on the rock, unflinching even as his skin was caressed by the intense cold winds sweeping over the summit, standing like a rock that is unshaken by praise or blame, fame or misfortune.

It was as though he was deaf to all the once familiar and friendly calls of the many creatures resident in the vast jungle that had been bequeathed to him. He noticed, however, that his body, so used to the cool shade of the forest was bathed in the midday heat and that his feet were getting scorched like something that was engulfed by the fire of a furnace.

On the fourth day he noticed that there were four eggs in the nest neatly built by the battichchas.

That night there was a full moon. A coolness had spread across the surface of the rock that had been set on fire by the midday sun.

He sat by the pond, looking at the entrance to the Naga Ladyís cave. The entrance had taken on a magical quality in his eyes, bathed as it was with moonlight.

As he sat there he noticed the drummerís daughter, woken from a three day long slumber, walking towards the pond. She was moving slowly. She passed him and waded into the pond.

The thick hair that enveloped his entire body suddenly stood on end. She spent a long time in the pond and finally waded out, cleaving the water as she moved. She came out at a point that directly faced the Hunter, squeezing the silvery water from her long locks of hair. He body, fresh and healthy, had taken on a golden hue in the moonlight.

The Hunter seemed mesmerized by the endless aesthetic that was bathed in moonlight, and looked upon some mysterious and illusionary dance that was taking place on the other side of the pond outside the Naga Ladyís cave, locked in a trance.

The drummerís daughter came right up to him and stood so close that their bodies almost touched and finally fell at his feet, sprawled on her back, naked and inviting.

It was as though his lips had been wetted by a drop of milk squeezed out of a nipple made erect by the touch of her fingers as she stood next to him.

His entire body, intensely agitated, struggled upon her golden hued body, just as the moonlight dances upon a muscle that is being repeatedly flexed. Even as his body was thus engrossed in a struggle that did not seem capable of yielding resolution, he brought his wits together and cast his eyes over the girlís body and towards the cave entrance.

The Naga Lady was gliding out of the cave. She began an undulating dancing in and with the moonbeams. He could not stop the cobra that lay coiled within him; it uncoiled itself and stood up, spouting fire and venom. The drummerís daughter writhed before him, her arms outstretched, pleading for embrace.

The next instant he went cold and was rendered immobile. The Hamuduruwo was approaching the pond, marking his way with slow and deliberate steps.

The Hamuduruwo came right up to him and with his face grazed by the calmest expression looked at the drummerís daughter. Not seeing the Hamuduruwo, the drummerís daughter looked in amazement at the Hunterís face which was struck with perplexity and then began betraying a certain disappointment.

The next moment, her eyes were lit as though by a flash of lightening and erupted in an invincible anger. She sprung on the Hunter, clawing his face like an enraged she-bear. She ripped open the skin on one side of his face.

The Hunter did not indicate any pain nor a recognition of the fact that he was bleeding. He continued to look at the Hamuduruwo without once blinking.

The drummerís daughter, realizing that she could not secure the grasp of his gaze, disentangled herself from the sorrow of lust, grabbed with her fingernails her thighs and bosom, still pulsating with the madness of desire, and turned the other way in dejection.

 

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