Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Asoka of the Mountain, River and Rain


“Such days are rare”, Asoka says to no one in particular, for he has not seen anyone in some time. Not since the road had become rocky and broken in the shadow of the mountain, not since the jungle had come to greet the rough path lain by the detritus from the mountain. “Such days as these are rich and free yet numbered and counted. More’s the pity”.

Pebbles fall.

“You agree Old Mountain, you agree and gift me with yourself”, he bends down and looks at the stones. First squinting, and then twisting his head from one side to another allowing his copper hair to fall about his face, his eyes widen and he gently plucks one between his thumb and finger and holds it in his hand.
Asoka continues along his way, skipping among the pebbles, taking joy in the sound they make against each other in his passing. His journey is only interrupted by the vines crossing his path to climb up the mountain and into the clouds.

“Why, you are assailed brother”.


“We shall see, but while the pebbles fall I will dance to their sound”, as if to exclaim his point Asoka spins on the spot and the pebbles growl beneath him.


“Don’t we all, Old Mountain, don’t we all”, says Asoka absently, taken up in staring between his feet at a dark pebble with a hole in its centre, “Just hope that your life spells something worth reading”.

A stone drops from his hand, and he dances for a time longer.


A man once sat by a stream. The stream’s name is unimportant, its source and destination are irrelevant; it understands that it will arrive somewhere someday. All that is important is that a man once sat by it, his long brazen hair let to sit upon his green silk shoulders, content to watch the fishes that swam by in its slow waters.

A traveller happened by, his tired donkey heavy with goods destined for foreign markets and foreign money. Before you could see the traveller you could hear the thwack- thwack of the drivers stick upon the creatures hind, pushing it toward the stream.

“Lo there” said the traveller, waving his stick in the air.

The man in the green silk didn’t look up from his river, and simply nodded his head. He did not break his gaze from the river even when the trader put his donkey to water, gently licking at the surface and talking to the fishes.

“These beasts are a stubborn lot. The harder you hit them the slower they go, it seems. Lazy and stupid is their lot in life” he said, with an eagerness in his face; he had been travelling long and not seen a soul. Again, the man with the coils of copper hair nodded slowly, not willing to be distracted from his fish. Eventually the hawker, realising how tired he was, sat beside the man on the grassy river bank, pulling his knees up to his chest.

“They are happy that they have someone to talk too”, the sound shocked the traveller, for it had come from his silent companion. Looking over to him he could not see any change in the man as he continued watching the water.

Angry at having been ignored the man snapped “How can you decide they are happy? You are not a fish!”

The merchant started as the watcher turned and looked at him, his smile was gone and he looked confused, “And you are not me, so how can you say that I do not know how a fish feels?”

With that the hawker pulled his donkey from the water side and carried on, not looking back. The donkey had no time to say good bye.


On a dark night, no light but from the storm, the Bandit King waits to take what he can get from those he can find on this muddy road.

He waits by a tree, watching the road. Crash he sees a figure. Crash it comes closer. He readies himself.

Crash. “Give me your possessions! Or I will kill you where you stand!”

Crash. “If that I could”, says the wet man in the green robe “But shamefully I have nothing to give”

“Then give me the clothes on your back, they shall sell some for some”, came the darkness.

“If that I could”, it answers, “But this robe must stay with me a while more”
Crash. He is enraged! Crash. He is incensed!

“Do you know who I am? Do you know what I could do?”

The man shakes his head.

“Do you realise”, said the King, “I could run you through without batting an eye!”

“Do you realise”, said the green man, “I could be run through without batting an eye?”

And so the green robed man carried on his way, leaving the King and his storm.

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