Tuesday, 26 April 2016

War in an age of innocence: 7

Link to Chapter 1

When Kiri awoke early the next morning, his first thoughts were about exploring his new home -- with Kala as his guide, of course. He got up very quickly and seeing that Kala was not in her room, he hurried down to the fire, hoping that she would be there. Kala was indeed seated by the fire talking with his Aunt Vara and a Danai man and woman. The Danai couple got up as he approached, glanced at his aunt and started toward the door, smiling at Kiri as they left.

“Hello Kiri”, his aunt said, “did you sleep well?”

“Yes, Aunt Vara”. He smiled at Kala. “Hello.”

She smiled back at him, but before she had a chance to say anything else his aunt spoke again.

Kala wants to show you around this morning, but such things can wait until later. It is important that we get started right away.”

Get started?”

Yes, on your instruction. Each morning I will be instructing you, and answering any questions you might have from the previous day. I want to make sure that all of your first thoughts, each day, are about the matters at hand. It will do you no good to have your head full of other ideas before you start your studies.”

Kiri thought to himself that his head was already full of other ideas, but he said nothing. Vara continued.

Yes Kiri, you can meet up with Kala after we have finished. Really! Your thoughts are as clear to me as a sky full of stars sometimes.”

Kiri just smiled sheepishly, and said nothing. Kala got up and beamed at Kiri.

I’ll see you later Kiri. Just ask for me after you have finished. Goodbye Vara”

Kiri and his aunt said goodbye to Kala and she left the house.

Before we get started, you should have something to eat Kiri. Try some of this, it is really good”

She passed him a bowl of a creamy looking mush, and he tasted it, cautiously. He liked it.

It is a Danai favorite,” she said, “it’s made from bread and nuts cooked in sheep’s milk and flavored with honey and a part of a flower that grows here”.

Kiri finished the bowl eagerly. He had not realized just how hungry he was.

Aunt Vara, I do have some questions. There were some things I was wondering about after you and Urho told your stories when we were back home. I never had a chance to ask you about them at that time.”

Then that will be an good place for us to start,” she replied, “but we are not going to talk about these things here, we have a special place where will go for your lessons. Come on.”

She got up and led Kiri out of the house and down a long log road to the edge of the village. He saw that there was a circle there, but it was not made of stone like the circle at home. It was made of tree trunks, stripped of their branches. Just before they got to the circle, there was a small round hut with an animal skin covering the low doorway. She crawled inside and Kiri followed. The inside of the hut was a single room with a fire burning at the centre. Sheepskin cushions surround the fire, but there was nothing else in the hut save for a pile of logs for the fire, and the fire was the only light. They sat down and Kiri started to speak.

When you and Urho told your stories about the Great Serpent, he said that the reindeer found the Great Serpent in a cave in the forest, and you said that the hunter found the Great Serpent in a cave beneath the sea. Later, the Great Serpent came to the wise woman in a dream. There are some things that I don’t understand: if the Great Serpent is in the forest, how can he also be beneath the sea? Also, if the Great Serpent visited the wise woman in a dream, why did the reindeer and the hunter have to go somewhere to find him? Couldn’t they have seen him in their dream? Did the reindeer and the hunter really go to the Great Serpent? After all, they both woke up somewhere else afterward. Were they dreaming too, just like the wise woman?”

Vara smiled, and thought for a few moments.

If you have never met the Great Serpent before, you have to go on a journey first. After that first time, the Great Serpent will come to you.”

But Aunt Vara, the Great Serpent came to me in a dream, just like the wise woman. I never went on a journey to find the Great Serpent.”

But you did Kiri, you went on the long Night Journey, from your home to here, in the Danai boat.”

But, Aunt Vara, surely the Great Serpent does not visit everyone the goes on a journey, what about everyone else on the boat. Did the Great Serpent also visit you on that night?”

Vara thought for while.

Your journey was very special. Before you left your home you were a boy. Now you are starting to be a man.”

Kiri thought of Kala.

But you came here to be with Urho, That is special, isn’t it?”

Yes it is Kiri, but it is special in a different way. I am still the same person as before I left. True, I am now with Urho, and I am now your tutor, but all of these things are part of what I was before. I could see the signs appearing that told me that you were ready for your special journey. What you were before was starting to wear on you, you were dissatisfied with life at home. You were starting to realize your destiny. All the Danai sailors had made those night journeys many times. It was not special for them in the way it was for you.

It is important for you to understand that when anyone goes on a journey to visit the Great Serpent, it is the place of departure that is important. The Great Serpent can be found anywhere, everywhere. Where that place is depends on where the seeker starts from. You cannot really see the place where the Great Serpent resides, because the Great Serpent lives in the place beyond all places, at the very edge of the Oneness. It is the point where the Oneness meets the world.”

Kiri suddenly felt very big. It was not big like being grown up; it was big in size. He felt himself filling the small hut, and then he saw the whole village as if he was a bird flying above it.

Aunt Vara! This is what you meant back home when you said the centre of our circle was the same as the centre of the Danai circle out here, isn’t it? The centre of the circle is the edge of the Oneness. It is that quiet place. It is where you can meet the Great Serpent when you need to!”

He could feel tears filling his eyes. He remembered the tears that appeared in the Danai sailor’s eyes when he was hearing the magic of Samo’s flute back in their own village.

Vara stood up.

You have finished your lessons for today Kiri. You need time to experience what you have discovered here. It would be wrong to try to do more today. I am very proud of you Kiri. I never thought that you would learn so fast.”

Can’t we go on Aunt Vara, I want to learn more.”

Tomorrow, Kiri, tomorrow. Now run along and find Kala. Enjoy the rest of your day. Meet some more people. I have to enter the circle for a while.”

Kiri said goodbye to his aunt and left the hut. He started walking back down the log road to the house, but his mind was still full of what had just happened. He found himself at the other edge of the village, at the big log road that followed the village wall, and he realized that he must have walked right by the house without noticing. He decided that he would find Kala later, and follow the road right round the village. He was thinking too much to have to talk to anyone, not even Kala.

This was all very well, but as he walked around, a number of Danai villagers would call to him by name and introduce themselves. He thought that he was doing just what his aunt had told him to do. He was meeting people. It was obvious that he was not going to get much time alone, and he didn’t feel confident enough to leave the village and wander into the forest, so he decided that he should go back to the house and find Kala. His feeling of bigness was starting to fade more and more as he was brought back to earth by all of the pleasantries he was exchanging with the villagers. He smiled to himself. Perhaps Kala was one of the few villagers that he had not spoken to in the last little while. He felt pleased, though, that everyone was making him feel so welcome. He remembered his long walks about his home village. He always felt invisible to everyone back there. If anyone called out to him, it was to ask him to do something, or to stop doing something else. Here, in this strange village, he felt important. Perhaps, one day, he would be invisible here too, but he was going to enjoy the feeling of belonging while it lasted.

He did not hurry back to the house, but walked slowly, sometimes turning a corner on to a new road for a while, and then coming back to the road that he knew. This village was much bigger than his own village. He thought that it must have been a lot of work to cut it all out of the forest, and perhaps there were not as many villages in this area as there were back in his homeland. Perhaps this village was like an island in the sea of forest around it. He asked about that from the next person that greeted him, a man called Sokol.

The next village is a long way away” Sokol told him. “You can get there through the forest on the old trail, but most people go there by boat. It takes half the day.”

At length, Kiri arrived back at the house, and Kala was waiting for him by the fire.

There you are!” she said, “I thought you had got lost. I saw Vara quite a while ago, and she said that she had sent you off to find me. I told lots of people where I was going. Did no one tell you?”

I’m sorry Kala, I had to think about things so I went for a walk around the village first.”

I was going to show you the village, Kiri.”

She seemed a little disappointed.

Oh I didn’t see much of the village Kala. It’s just that my lessons were on my mind, and there were things that I wanted to get clear before I came to see you. I didn’t want to seem rude because I couldn’t stop thinking about what Aunt Vara had taught me. He gave her a hug.

Can we go and see the forest? I have never walked in a forest before. Is it safe?”

She laughed.

Of course it is safe! Yes, we can do that. I like the forest and I know it very well. I have never met anyone that has never been in a forest before, don’t you have a forest back where you lived before?”

Yes, but it was dangerous, and many people never came back out of it.”


I don’t know”

When someone vanished, didn’t anyone have any ideas about what had happened to them?”

I never heard of anyone going into the forest, so I don’t know. The hunters would go to the edge of it, but not inside.”

Kala laughed.

I think they were all being silly,” she said.

Kiri felt himself getting a little annoyed, but he wondered if perhaps she was right. She was not afraid of the forest. He would be the same.

Let’s go and look at it Kala.”

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  1. Just finished the chapter. I see Kiri has started his special training where he will learn about the Oneness and the Great Serpant. What will he learn?

    1. Well, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". Experience teaches, too.

      I just discovered that when you save a blog draft, Blogger sets the date. I uploaded it really early this morning and then noticed it had yesterday's date because that is when I last saved it. I've now changed the date to today's. I also see that I can set the publication date for any previously written posts, click on "publish" and they will appear on that day. That's handy. I can prepare a few posts and then do something else or go on a vacation for a while.