I listened to her song. It was the colour of solitude. Like a dusty sliver of light in the gathering darkness.
Manasa, the spider, knew when the heavens would be benevolent. She had saved a drop from yesterday’s rain.
She was humming under her breath, some strange primal tune, something you’d imagine her mother had sung to her to put her to sleep. She sang to the evening. Tucking it into bed.
She stopped and slowly drew a circle of silk around me. Stopping at each dried leaf. Each twig was an accomplice as she built her littly city of repose. She did not know that I was there. As she reached the end of the circle she placed a drop of water.
I stood there bumbling, clumsy, irrelevant. She was effortlessly beautiful. I did not figure in her radar. The world was inconsequential. Everything around her stood transfixed. The wind had stopped, the undergrowth forgot to breathe, and I stood there in a trance.
‘When two ends meet it’s a circle’, she said quietly to herself.
My mouth was open. an awkward semi colon in the sentence that the spider slowly wove beside me. A stage boy standing in the wings as the first act unfolded in silence. There was nothing could say, or do, that would break the magic of that moment. Anything would be a rasp. A screech. in the unknowingly delicate aria of silences that lay lightly in the air before me, like a lingering aroma.
“Umm … Can I have some water?”
She paused. She didn’t look at me. It was just a moment. Long enough to think a breath. But it was a pause nonetheless, a hiatus, in the slow spell she was weaving. Then without turning, slid the droplet onto a leaf and extended it towards me with a practiced nonchalance.
“Be careful with that”
She spat the words out to this bumbling figure standing at her doorstep.
It’s from last night’s rain.”
Her legs traced slow concentric spirals into the centre of the little clearing in the ground. She was the ballerina, and the spotlight followed the silk that trailed her.
I did not speak for fear that I would break the spell. That this goddess would turn into an angry blur. That she would laugh at my arcaneness, that she would dismiss my mortality.
I had fallen in love with her in that second. My body had forgotten the toil of the last two days without food or drink.
I have known hunger. And I have seen love.
Now I can die, I thought.
I stood at the threshold of her mind. I peeked in through the window into a surreal utopia. Like a little boy seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time, wide eyed, I gaped.
She was wild. Her calmess came from a penance at the threshold of the forest. Her song was the whispering chorus of aranya’s dreams. It’s tune penetrated the forest like pain.
The light formed a lattice around her as it beamed through the trestle of branches above her. I sat beside this shrine. Content to be in the sanctum sanctum. Unnoticed by the deity.
‘What’re you gawking at?’, she spat.
And I looked back tongue-tied and awkward.
Then she laughed. A loud epiphany of a laugh.
She was hanging comfortably between two crisscrossing strands of her orb web. As she settled into a gentle rhythm between the two silken threads, she surveyed me slowly.
‘ You’re new. lost?’
‘That’s ok. Everyone is’
And then she fell silent.
The drought was a person that stood between us. a dark silhouette that coughed impolitely every time I dared to steal a glance at her. Behind the curtain, she took a deep breath, before stripping me to dust:
“this night is the language that aranya speaks. this is the dream that she enters, to forget memory. every moment that passes is a fight between time and the curling ground that grows like a crowd around us. Love is translation. and Hunger is incomprehension. even these eyes are pinpricks of wonder. we are but shadows of our real in-consequentialities. Remember that, and this hollow shell that dogs you, this battlestruck body, will fall away like an exoskeleton of untruths. The snake that is the womb of your mind will shed its skin.
But you will call it a rope. and use it to strangle your future. and tie it down to your past…
…when two ends meet
it’s a circle”