The sand that poured through Kurumi’s fingers returned to its place on the ground without a sound. With every step walked sadness became replaced by strength and purpose. The heat waves rippled through the air seeping into the earth below. Lunchtime drew close in the depths of their stomachs and London made sure her brother would not forget his promise for at every possible moment she shouted ice cream.
‘I don’t believe in God,’ said Jumo to the tree spirit, ‘you mentioned sages earlier.’
‘Oh, and why is that dear Jumo?’
‘Because I can not see it, therefore God is not quantifiable.’
‘What about love? Can you see love?’ asked the tree spirit. The rest of the group listened in. This was a debate between a lover of science and, well, a tree spirit. So quite normal indeed.
‘Not directly, but I can see the effects of love. People kissing and my mother cooking me breakfast.’
‘Ah, but can love be measured, is it quantifiable?’
‘No, not really, but that doesn’t mean that God exists.’
‘Then what about me, do you not believe I exist?’
‘Well, obviously you are in existence or I have gone crazy.’
‘We can’t see time either,’ added Aruna.
‘Science can’t measure ethical and aesthetic judgments,’ said Ash.
‘Oh dear, I feel you are all ganging up on me now,’ said Jumo.
‘You started it!’ said Kurumi.
‘Yeah, yeah. What about ghosts, mind over matter and all that stuff,’ said Bradley. Bradley was excited now as he felt he had something to add to the conversation.
‘And satori,’ added Kurumi.
‘Well, okay, so I can not disprove the existence of God, but I must add that if it were not for science we would still believe that when lightening struck we would have to make human sacrifices to appease the Gods.’ Jumo huffed and shrugged his shoulders. ‘All I am saying is that fruitful imagination and idleness can only last for so long. We are in the age of science my friends,’ said Jumo.
‘What’s he talking about, fruitful imagination? Sounds more exotic than scientific’ Bradley whispered to Ash. They both laughed with as much restraint they could muster.
‘But yet, God will always exist,’ said Aruna.
‘Why can we not have science and spirituality together my dear friends,’ said the tree spirit. ‘After all, it is all a matter of energy and perception is it not.’
‘Spiritual-science,’ said Jumo in a thoughtful tone. Aruna smiled and walked on ahead.
They finally entered into the lush vegetation of the oasis with the sound of grasshoppers greeting them. A skunk jumped in and out of a bush playing with a fly the size of a bird. A camel stood beside a tree slapping its lips whilst glaring at the group as they walked. Nothing was out of the ordinary here except of course if you know camels and skunks to be wondering alone in an oasis unattended. These appearances were now the norm of their somewhat illusionary adventure. The air was a lot lighter and fresher and the sight of shade beneath the trees was a welcomed respite. Before resting they all marvelled at a family of colorful melleolianethia plants that became transparent when touched. London enjoyed playing with these plants and it took her a good while before she left them alone.
Eventually they all settled under a palm tree, which gave the most protection from the fierce sun. The palms of the tree gave further shade to smaller peach trees. Desert ants with green skin and white spots had shaped out a miniature mountain with blades of grass and sand. The tree spirit directed the girls to a selection of fruit and the boys to a selection of vegetables, but once again warned them of only taking that which was necessary for the group. The tree spirit was persistent in ensuring each of them did not upset the balance of food for the surrounding animals of the desert. They found dates, figs, olives, apricots, guavas and mangoes, wheat, barley and millet, as well as some unknown, but nevertheless edible fruits, vegetables and legumes. A black egg-shaped fruit that tasted like something between an orange and strawberry, and a vegetable that tasted like meat were but a few new fruits and vegetables they had found. Naturally, London could not refrain from touching the camel and so Ash had to keep a watchful eye on her. His gaze even more protective after London’s fatal incident with the ouroboros.
For the first time the group had looked happy and relaxed. London enjoyed herself wonderfully. It was as if nothing had happened previously. She was the first to finish her food and found great joy in playing with the plants again afterwards.
‘How can there be so much fresh fruit and vegetables, but nobody to look after them,’ asked Kurumi.
‘I was wondering the same thing,’ said Jumo.
‘My dear children, you have still yet to except this as your balancing world. Some things that exist and grow here have yet to exist on earth, and things that are brought into creation on earth have yet to exist here. Sometimes this world gives birth to ideas for the minds on earth. Things maintain and support themselves here on Vaalbara,’ said the tree spirit.
‘Going back to our strength and skills,’ said Ash. ‘Is it hard to attain our maximum capabilities, which you mentioned earlier?’
‘Oh yes, indeed it is. Maybe not all of you can reach it. To do so, you have to let yourself go. Become one with nature and release the doubt and fear in yourself,’ said the tree spirit. ‘Do not forget, this is a world of energy that you can use. This electro-magnetic energy is all around you.’
‘It would help if we could see this energy,’ said Jumo smiling.
‘Oh, wait a minute. Jumo’s got jokes again,’ said Bradley sarcastically.
‘And an IQ,’ replied Jumo.
‘Indeed you do. The IQ of square-root-to-poo,’ said Bradley imitating Jumo. The grouped laughed.
After they finished eating they continued a little farther ahead to an area that had three separate springs with arching trees and a small waterfall in the middle spring. The group was wonderfully relieved and happy to see fresh water not only to drink, but to bathe in.
‘Righty, men here, ladies there, and Jumo over there,’ said Bradley rubbing his hands.
‘Your jokes will someday run dry like the desert,’ said Jumo.
‘Do you mind?’ Ash said to the girls nudging London towards them. ‘Be good London, okay!’
‘Of course we don’t mind,’ said Aruna. She held London by the hand and led her towards the spring on the left. The boys took the spring on the right and the centre spring was left free of human presence.
‘You can use the leaves to dry yourselves. I believe they act somewhat as a towel,’ said the tree spirit.
After several minutes passed singing from the girls drifted over to the boy’s spring. The girls were singing a Jade Westing song. Now if you know of Jade Westing, you will be familiar with the words strong women, fight for your rights and water is the only drink you need, which was a recent hit amongst teenage girls.
‘Aruna’s singing again!’ said Bradley.
‘Just how you like it.’
‘Oh, shut it mate!’ said Bradley. Ash turned to Jumo.
‘You see Bradley here; he is caught between the brains of Aruna and the sheer beauty of Nevriye from his class. You’ve met her before. She was supposed to come to the picnic, but thankfully for her she was busy. Anyway, which of the two do you think he should pursue an interest in?’ asked Ash.
‘Well, I, err, I, well,’ stammered Jumo. Obviously somewhat uncomfortable with the topic of girls and relationships.
‘Well, who would you choose?’ pressed Ash. Jumo stroked the surface of the water with his right hand, composed his thoughts and looked at the both of them.
‘Neither of them,’ said Jumo. ‘Allow me to finish before you comment,’ he continued, seeing that Bradley itched to say something. ‘Firstly, it is very rare for a young Bengali girl like Aruna to get involved with a non-muslim. Bengali’s, like the rest of the Middle East and some Asian cultures have a strong sense of culture and identity, as well as religion. You should respect that. Attempting to date with Aruna would only give her stress and confusion, as well as a cultural and religious crisis.’
‘That’s a very valid point,’ said Ash. Bradley listened carefully to Jumo for the first time.
‘As for Nevriye, she is far too pretty for you,’ said Jumo laughing.
‘Oi, what do you mean by that?’ said Bradley.
‘What I mean is, judging by your character you will get yourself into plenty of arguments with other people who may find her attractive. Surely you have noticed how she dresses to impress all the time, therefore she likes or needs the attention,’ said Jumo.
‘Maybe she just wants to look good,’ said Ash.
‘Yeah,’ added Bradley.
‘People of our age should not be worried about such matters of looking good. In any case, I would wait until you finish the school year, enter college after summer and are working part-time. At least that way you will not have to see each other every day at school and go on dates using your parent’s money,’ said Jumo.
‘I agree with Jumo, Brads,’ said Ash.
‘Gosh, you guys are lame. No wonder why I never see any of you with girls. And you Ash, you muppet… just hurry up and ask Kurumi out for all our sakes,’ said Bradley. ‘All that time you spend smiling at each other, you could be bloody well kissing and holding hands by now.’
‘I agree with Bradley,’ added Jumo.
‘Ya ya, whatever you say Brads,’ said Ash, ‘and why do you agree with Bradley.’
‘Well, because you are home educated you need not worry about having to see Kurumi in a school setting each day. Plus you will both have a lot more to talk about as your daily schedules are different.’
Conversation in the girl’s spring followed a similar pattern, but in a more indirect fashion. London was non-stop giggle as Kurumi washed her hair in the crystal blue water.
‘So, Kurumi, I’ve noticed that you like free running and Kung Fu,’ said Aruna.
‘Free running? Kung Fu?’ asked Kurumi.
‘Ash,’ whispered Aruna. Kurumi blushed a bright pink. Her cheeks illuminated like Christmas tree lights and her eyes shot down straight into the water like a hunter eyeing fish. Aruna laughed.
‘He’s nice though, but I prefer simpler boys,’ said Aruna.
‘And you Aruna, you like the knowledgeable kind of guy right?’
‘What, no way. I don’t like Jumo!’ replied Aruna. ‘You can’t take your eyes of him, can you,’ said Aruna quickly diverting the conversation back to Kurumi.
‘Ask him out, although he may ask what colour your energy field is.’ They both laughed.
‘Do you like either Jumo or Bradley?’
‘My parents would never allow it, besides I’m scared Jumo might try to quantify me,’ replied Aruna. Even Kurumi could not hold back her laughter after that comment. ‘Nah, dating within friendship circles is just complicated,’ said Aruna. ‘Besides, we’re too young aren’t we? I’d much rather have good friends more than anything else.’
A very feint paddling noise came from the left breaking the conversation. London’s eyes lit up brightly at what she saw. Kurumi and Aruna looked into the centre of the spring to find a very small boat about the length of London’s arm gliding on top of the water. There were nine borrower-like figures all standing on the crescent moon shaped boat, which had no side walls or roof. All but two of the figures were wearing striking blue garments with peculiar patterns. The figure at the front had an animal mask and a round golden plate on its head. The male figures each held a long stick. Both the females and males except for one held a cross-like object with a hook in their left hands. Another figure stood out in an all silver outfit wrapped tight to his body. His skin was green and not brown like the rest. He had his arms crossed over his chest holding two objects.
The boat glided along the water by itself like magic, as if some invisible force softly pushed it. Two golden paddles with bird handles were hung off at the back of the boat, which cut through the water. At each end of the boat a bronze and blue flower blossomed out. In the centre of the boat there was a circular rug with interesting patterns of birds, snakes, beetles, flowers, and other intriguing objects and animals. Towards the front of the boat on its side was an eye.
‘What’s that,’ whispered Kurumi rather nervously.
‘No idea,’ said Aruna.
‘Looking at it makes me feel peaceful though,’ said Kurumi. Only the songs of hidden birds could be heard at that moment. London who had water dripping from her face moved forward slightly to get a closer look. One of the small female figures from the boat floated into the sky reaching out her arms with delicate golden wings rolled out as if sliding from within her skin. In fact, nearly everything these figures wore was made of gold. The wings separated into three connected sections, the last had the longest feathers. The super miniature lady wore a sky-blue one-piece attire and a colourful necklace. Her hair was black and straight with a golden headband. Her feet were bare and her skin beautifully tanned.
The angelic lady soared through the air and came to a slow halt in front of London. London looked up and received a kiss on her forehead. She giggled. The boat behind the flying lady drifted out of sight into the central spring.
‘She’s beautiful,’ said Kurumi. The lady smiled. It was a smile that was extremely comforting; one that said everything was going to be all right. She arched her back, kicked the air and glided away into the next spring. The girls were left in a state of enchantment and excitement.
The boat now drifted into the spring where the boys bathed. Bradley at seeing the drifting boat tapped Jumo on his shoulder. Both Ash and Jumo stared at it with fixed eyes, not sure whether or not it was an enemy.
‘There’s midgets on a boat,’ said Bradley.
‘They’re not midgets. They’re small-,’ said Jumo.
‘Small what then-,’ said Bradley.
‘Unbelievable,’ said Ash cutting them both off. ‘That boat is a solar barque similar to Ancient Kemet’s Khufu ships, but this one is a boat for Gods. They are the Gods and Goddesses of Pesedjet. Look at that eye symbol on the side there.’ Both Jumo and Bradley moved forward for a closer look. ‘That is the Wedjat, also known as the eye of Horus or Ra. It is a symbol of protection and power for the Gods. ‘Look at the God at the front with the Falcon head, that is Ra’Horus, the God of Sky and Protection, he is followed by and in order of relation and importance, Atum-Ra, the Creator of Life, he is apparently the Complete One. Next, is Shu, the God of air, followed by Tefnut, Goddess of water and fertility.’ The excitement rose in his voice.
‘Oh, this is amazing. Geb, the God of earth, follows Tefnut, it is said he created earth. Then there is Nut, Goddess of the night sky and protector of earth. Now see there, the God in silver with green skin.’
‘Yeah, he look’s proper dodgy,’ said Bradley.
‘He is Osiris, the God of the afterlife,’ continued Ash. ‘But, wait a moment…’
‘What’s wrong?’ asked Jumo.
‘Where is Isis, the Goddess of fertility, motherhood, magic and resurrection. Osiris’ wife. They are always together.’
‘What’s that?’ said Bradley pointing to the flying female figure.
‘Oh there she is. She is as beautiful as she appears in paintings,’ said Ash. Jumo and Bradley smiled and caught a brief spot of laughter. The flying Goddess, Isis, which we now know by name, rejoined her position on the boat behind Osiris. She looked at the group and smiled.
‘How do you know all this,’ asked Jumo.
‘Who is the last person?’ asked Bradley.
‘Well, my mother is deeply into Ancient Kemet, also known as Ancient Egypt. That last figure is the great Egyptian Pharaoh, the king, Akhenaten, and look above him, the Aten sun and its rays shinning down upon him. This is a beautiful dream,’ said Ash moving forward, ‘how are we able to see this? If this were possible it would have happened long before our time. Or maybe time really does work differently outside of earth.’
‘Where they going?’ asked Bradley.
‘They, my dear brothers, they are taking the way to the afterlife. Well, Akhenaten is being accompanied to the afterlife,’ said Ash.
‘Will he become a God?’ asked Jumo.
‘Perhaps he will, but I am not sure,’ said Ash, ‘it’s as if we’re being allowed to see a moment in time that has existed before us.’
The boat finally drifted beyond the large leaves and out of sight, and with it a magical tingle in the air and the sound of birds sweetly singing was left in the atmosphere. The three of them dashed out of the spring. Jumo and Bradley laughed at how quickly Ash dried himself off with a leaf the size of a dinner table. They rushed out from the spring area to meet with the girls.
The group fell into deep conversation. The girls listened to Ash as he explained about the Gods and Goddesses and about Akhenaten, his legacy and love for his wife, the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. He had an interested audience. He talked until he had no knowledge left to share about Ancient Kemet, and for a while at least they forgot they were traveling through a small area of Vaalbara on a mission to save earth from a grand hypnosis.
B. L. Crisp | Copyrighted to © Barry Crisp