Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 43
By Akendra Sana
“Bamboo Flower”, serialized here, is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental
contd... from previous Sunday
As a boy at that age, he however, did not know what all that meant. In fact, he wanted to see the rats. He knew they were ugly. But except for one or two that he had seen with grandfather Ibobi in the western garden, he had not seen them in large numbers. He only then thought that since they had such colourless covers, perhaps they would acquire some distinct colour and shade if they were to be seen together in large numbers.
And famine, what would he know of hunger, for instance. Because that was the answer he got when he asked his mother what was famine. He was determined to take the question to grandfather Ibobi. The question made his grandfather explain to him what could lead to hunger, hunger of many many people. Grandfather Ibobi had said that famine was hunger by a large number of people. He now remembered his grandfather’s words, “These are years you share your dreams. As you grow older, your dreams become only your own and you won’t have others to share them. Those who have someone to share dreams are the lucky ones.” and smiled as he told himself, “If life is also about dreams, this must be it.”
Then he began to reason that grandfather Ibobi possibly also wanted him to understand that there could be famine of what the mind could do since he heard the following story from his grandfather:
The plains of the valley were fertile and had long been producer of rice, the staple food, which catered to all the settlements in the neighbourhood. This valley was some forty by twenty miles and was the only oasis of flat ground in the great sweep of mountains between the great eastern and western countries. It was roughly equidistant from the ancient river valley of the western country and the central plains of the eastern country.
Later, he gathered that grandfather Ibobi never used the metric system of measures. It was always feet and inches, seer and pounds, miles and furlongs for him although he lived the later part of his life when people became more familiar with the more user-friendly decimal system of weights and measures. Whether Ibobi was consciously avoiding the new system or he was too dull to learn anything new, Rajen would never know.
The valley, according to grandfather Ibobi, in those days of peace and tranquil, was a cluster of villages, almost buried in groves of banana plants and flowing bamboo in the compound of every thatched house, casting long shadows into dank ponds.
With this introduction, grandfather Ibobi then began to tell the story of a king in the past who had declared that the country was passing through turbulent times.
The story went on to say that the king had announced that consultations with the head priest of the land were over and that the dreams of the king did not portend well.
Legend had it; the story went on, that the commander-in-chief of the army was restless.
Should we prepare for War, Your Majesty? The Commander-in-Chief submitted.
No, your preparedness will not make much of a difference. There are certain things that need preparation in the mind. And this is going to be one such thing.
I do not know if there is going to be a major incident or a series of incidents, which will bring in hardships and turbulence.
Change is inevitable; His Majesty continued the monologue,
Let me take to prayers to the Deities of the Land.
Fourteen days from today, I shall be taking a short trip and shall offer my prayers before the Supreme Deity in residence till I feel I have offered my prayers and the Mother Deity permits me to continue my journey.
The Estates Department has been advised to build a thatched house at the southern flank of the temple complex of the Supreme Deity. The house will be ready two days before I reach there.
And for these fourteen days, I shall be in communion with the Ruling Deity at the Palace here.
The war everyone is engaged in is ushering in the change I had mentioned earlier.
With these words, His Majesty entered his private chambers.
In the privacy of his inner chambers, the king look worried and almost speaking to himself, said, why did we all become small - all of us looking not taller than two feet. But dreams should remain dreams, he declared, not concerned of anything else.
The image of the flowering bamboo and this story of the dreams of the king of the past were to remain with Rajen, just as he was remembering that day.
To be cond...
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