The years had traced their ontologies into his face. It was a battlefield of humours. His eyes were a window from which the multiverse indulgently gazed into the forest.
The window was shut.
The forest nourished him. Nobody knew how old he was. There were rumours that he was as old as the forest itself. He emerged, as it were, from the undergrowth. Roots had latched on to his torso. The skin of his lower back had coalesced into the supple cartilage of fibers and flailing hands of the earth. Beside him a rusty transistor radio played some channel from another reality. the sounds were incomprehensible, the language, forgotten. except in ol’ Djyn Qi’s mind. a fly sniffed at the cracking wood where his nose should have been – like a bullet, a green knotted stem of a hand leapt out and grabbed hold of the poor, helpless insect; and it vanished somewhere into the forest.
‘the end is the beginning
the loop is complete’
Manasa jerked out of her reverie. a thousand thoughts stopped mid-think and waited and watched. She had heard it. but there was no sound. she turned her head slowly towards what appeared to be a part of the foliage her web was built into. one leg, peeked out and prodded a bleary twig whose leaves formed a closed eyelash.
‘Djyn Qi’, she exclaimed, ‘I didn’t know you were here. I didn’t see you coming’
‘there is no coming
there is only
‘I am glad I found you, albeit coincidentally’
‘there are no coincidences’
‘sorry, that’s what I meant. I was looking for you.
Master, last night when I was spinning my home for the night, I saw something spectacular. I saw raaga the eagle catch fire and fall to the ground. And the snake in his beak slipped out and spilled to the ground in a stream of blood. I saw grandfather time start in the eyes of katha, the banyan sprite. I saw the elephants congregating at the rock temple of great Hun Ra. I heard them whisper about the second coming. Their trunks parched, they conversed in clack the ancient language of the forest. What is happening O master’
Djyn was quietly rolling a cigarette between two twigs. It was taking an age. Manasa let out a quick swirl of silk and bound the roach. Djyn put the cigarette between his lips, conjured fire out of the pregnant air, then inhaled deeply.
‘It is here. The human is here.’
Manasa trembled as if someone had just told her the time of her death.
Suddenly Djyn’s eyes blazed red. And he appeared strangely…
‘I can still see it. As if it happened only yesterday. I remember my father screaming as he tried to protect ma from the fiery sticks of the blargs. They were here to cut down our homes. I hid in the tunnel of silence. And saw the entire shinagawa clan burn before my eyes. I sat there crying, for days – the last surviving member of a dynasty of protectors. The very elite of the forest.’
‘To this day I carry the burden of survival in my chest. The forest has been generous. It has shared my pain’
Then his eyes went back to darkness again. The window shut.
‘We must consolidate.
Sound the alarm.