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7 Dec

“A Sackful of Seeds,” by Salman Rushdie

In this fashion, she was able to simply accept her fate in silence, though an indignant power began to grow in her, a force from which the long run could be born. In time. All in good time.

She didn’t say a single word for the subsequent nine years, which meant that Vidyasagar, who knew many things, didn’t even know her name. He decided to call her Gangadevi, and he or she accepted the name without grievance, and helped him gather berries and roots to eat, to brush out their poor residence, and to haul water from the well. Her silence suited him perfectly, because on most days he was lost in meditation, considering the meanings of the sacred texts that he had learned by heart, and searching for answers to 2 great questions: whether wisdom existed, or if there was only folly; and the related query of whether there was, amongst humans, such a thing as vidya, true knowledge, for which he was named, or if there have been just many various sorts of ignorance, while true knowledge was possessed only by the gods. As well as, he considered peace, and asked himself learn how to insure the triumph of nonviolence in a violent age.

This was how men were, Pampa Kampana thought. A person philosophized about peace but his deeds—his treatment of the helpless girl sleeping in his cave—weren’t in alignment along with his philosophy.

When Pampa Kampana had been living in Vidyasagar’s cave for nine years, two brothers got here to call. They were cowherds from the hill town of Gooty who had gone to war, war being one in every of the expansion industries of the time. That they had joined up with a neighborhood princeling’s army, and since they were amateurs within the art of killing they’d been captured by the Delhi sultan’s forces and sent to the north, where to avoid wasting their skins they pretended to be converted to the faith of their captors, after which escaped soon afterward, shedding their adopted faith like an unwanted shawl, getting away before they may very well be circumcised based on the necessities of the faith through which they didn’t really imagine. They were local boys, they explained, and so they had heard of the wisdom of the sage Vidyasagar and, to be honest, they’d also heard of the great thing about the mute young woman who lived with him, and so here they were seeking some good advice. They didn’t come empty-handed. They brought baskets of fresh fruit and a sack of nuts and an urn full of milk from their favorite cow, and likewise a sack of seeds. Their names, they said, were Hukka and Bukka Sangama: Hukka, the tall, gray-haired, good-looking one, who stood very still and gazed deep into your eyes as if he could see your thoughts, and Bukka, his much younger sibling, the small rotund one who buzzed around him, and everybody else, like a bee. After their escape from the north, they were searching for a recent direction in life. The care of cows had ceased to be enough for them, they said. Their horizons were wider now and their ambitions were greater, in order that they would appreciate any guidance, any ripples flowing from the amplitude of the Ocean of Knowledge, any whispers from the depths of wisdom that the sage is perhaps willing to supply, anything in any respect that may show them the way in which. “We all know of you as the good apostle of peace,” Hukka Sangama said. “We’re not so keen on soldiering ourselves, after our recent experiences. Show us the fruits that nonviolence can grow.”

To everyone’s surprise, it was not the monk but his eighteen-year-old companion who replied, in an unusual, conversational voice, strong and low, a voice that gave no hint that it hadn’t been used for nine years. It was a voice by which each brothers were immediately seduced. “Suppose you had a sackful of seeds,” she said. “Then suppose you can plant them and grow a city, and grow its inhabitants, too, as if people were plants, budding and flowering within the spring, only to wither within the autumn. Suppose now that these seeds could grow generations, and convey forth a history, a recent reality, an empire. Suppose they may make you kings, and your kids, too, and your kids’s children.”

“Sounds good,” young Bukka, the more outspoken of the brothers, said. “But where are we alleged to find seeds like that? We’re only cowherds, but we all know higher than to imagine in fairy tales.”

“Your name Sangama is an indication,” she said. “A sangam is a confluence, just like the River Pampa, which is formed by the joining of the Tunga and Bhadra rivers, which were created from the sweat pouring down the 2 sides of the pinnacle of Lord Vishnu, and so it also means the flowing together of various parts to make a recent type of whole. That is your destiny. Go to the place of the ladies’s sacrifice, the sacred place where my mother died, which can also be the place where in precedent days Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman joined forces with the mighty Lord Hanuman of Kishkindha and went forth to battle the many-headed Ravana of Lanka, who had abducted the girl Sita. You two are brothers just as Ram and Lakshman were. Construct your city there.”

Now the sage spoke up. “It’s not such a foul start, being cowherds,” he said. “The sultanate of Golconda was began by shepherds, you realize—in actual fact, its name means ‘the shepherds’ hill’—and people shepherds were lucky, because they found that the place was wealthy in diamonds, and now they’re diamond princes, owners of the Twenty-three Mines, discoverers of many of the world’s pink diamonds, and possessors of the Great Table Diamond, which they keep within the deepest dungeon of their mountaintop fortress, probably the most impregnable castle within the land, harder to take than even Mehrangarh, up in Jodhpur, or Udayagiri, right down the road.”

“And your seeds are higher than diamonds,” the young woman said, handing back the sack that the brothers had brought with them.

“It sure doesn’t feel just like the Renaissance.”

Cartoon by Kaamran Hafeez and Phil Witte

“What, these seeds?” Bukka asked, very surprised. “But these are only an unusual assortment we brought along as a present on your vegetable patch—they’re for okra, beans, and snake gourds, all mixed up together.”

The prophetess shook her head. “Not anymore,” she said. “Now these are the seeds of the long run. Your city will grow from them.”

The 2 brothers realized at that moment that they were each truly, deeply, and endlessly in love with this strange beauty who was clearly an awesome sorceress, or on the very least an individual touched by a god and granted exceptional powers. “They are saying Vidyasagar gave you the name of Gangadevi,” Hukka said. “But what’s your real name? I’d very very like to comprehend it, in order that I can remember you in the way your parents intended.”

“Go and make your city,” she said. “Come back and ask me my name again when it has sprouted up out of rocks and dirt. Perhaps I’ll inform you then.”

After they’d gone to the designated place and scattered the seeds, their hearts filled with great perplexity and just just a little hope, the 2 Sangama brothers climbed to the highest of a hill of huge boulders and thornbushes that tore at their peasant clothes and sat down within the late afternoon to attend and watch. Not more than an hour later, they saw the air begin to shimmer, because it does throughout the hottest hours of the most well liked days, after which the miracle city began growing before their astonished eyes, the stone edifices of the central zone pushing up from the rocky ground, and the majesty of the royal palace, and the primary great temple, too. All these and more arose in old-fashioned splendor, the Royal Enclosure spreading out on the far end of the long market street. The mud, wood, and cow-shit hovels of the common people also made their humble way into the air at the town’s periphery. In those first moments the town was not yet fully alive. Spreading out from the shadow of the barren bouldered hills, it looked like a shining cosmopolis whose inhabitants had all abandoned it. The villas of the wealthy, with stone foundations from which sprouted graceful, pillared structures of brick and wood, stood unoccupied; the canopied market stalls were empty, awaiting the arrival of florists, butchers, tailors, wine merchants, and dentists; within the red-light district there have been brothels but, as yet, no whores. The river rushed along and the banks where washerwomen and washermen would do their work looked as if it would wait expectantly for some motion, some movement that might give intending to the place. Within the Royal Enclosure, the good Elephant House with its eleven arches anticipated the approaching of the tuskers and their dung.

Then life began, and a whole bunch—no, 1000’s—of men and girls were born full grown from the brown earth, shaking the dirt off their garments and thronging the town within the evening breeze. Stray dogs and bony cows walked within the streets, trees burst into blossom and leaf, and the sky swarmed with parrots, yes, and crows. There was laundry upon the riverbank, and royal elephants trumpeting of their mansion, and armed guards—women!—on the Royal Enclosure’s gates. A military camp may very well be seen beyond the town’s boundary, a considerable cantonment, through which stood an awesome force of 1000’s more newborn human beings, equipped with clattering armor and weapons, in addition to with ranks of camels and horses, and siege weaponry—battering rams, trebuchets, and the like.

“That is what it must feel wish to be a god,” Bukka Sangama said to his brother in a trembling voice. “To perform the act of creation, a thing only the gods can do.”

“We must change into gods now,” Hukka said, “to be sure that the people worship us.” He looked up into the sky. “There, you see,” he pointed. “There may be our father, the Moon.”

“No.” Bukka shook his head. “We’ll never get away with that.”

“The nice Moon God, our ancestor,” Hukka said, making it up as he went along, “he had a son, whose name was Budha. After which after quite a few generations the family line arrived on the Moon King of the mythological era. Pururavas. That was his name. He had two sons, Yadu and Turvasu. Some say there have been five, but I feel two is plenty. And we’re the sons of the sons of Yadu. Thus we’re an element of the illustrious Lunar Lineage, like the good warrior Arjuna within the Mahabharata, and even Lord Krishna himself.”

“Let’s go down and try the palace,” Bukka suggested. “I hope there are many servants and cooks and never only a bunch of empty chambers of state. I hope there are beds as soft as clouds and possibly a women’s wing of ready-made wives of unimaginable beauty as well. We must always have fun, right? We aren’t cowherds anymore.”

“But cows will remain essential to us,” Hukka proposed.

“Metaphorically, you mean?” Bukka asked. “I’m not planning on doing any more milking.”

“Yes,” Hukka Sangama said. “Metaphorically, in fact.”

They were each silent for some time, awed by what they’d brought into being. “If something can come out of nothing like this,” Bukka finally said, “possibly anything is feasible on this world, and we are able to really be great men, although we’ll have to have great thoughts as well, and we don’t have any seeds for those.”

Hukka was considering along different lines. “If we are able to grow people like tapioca plants,” he mused, “then it doesn’t matter what number of soldiers we lose in battle, because there will likely be plenty more where they got here from, and due to this fact we will likely be invincible and can give you the chance to beat the world. These 1000’s are only a starting. We are going to grow a whole bunch of 1000’s of residents, possibly 1,000,000, and 1,000,000 soldiers as well. There are many seeds left. We barely used half the sack.”

Bukka was excited about Pampa Kampana. “She talks rather a lot about peace, but when that’s what she wants why did she grow us this army?” he wondered. “Is it peace she really wants, or revenge? For her mother’s death, I mean.”

“It’s as much as us now,” Hukka told him. “A military generally is a force for peace in addition to for war.”

“And one other thing I’m wondering,” Bukka said. “Those people down there, our recent residents—the lads, I mean—do you’re thinking that they’re circumcised or not circumcised?”

Hukka pondered this query. “What do you need to do?” he asked finally. “Do you need to go down there and ask all of them to open their lungis, pull down their pajamas, unwrap their sarongs? You think that that’s solution to begin?”

“The reality is,” Bukka replied, “I don’t really care. It’s probably a combination, and so what.”

“Exactly,” Hukka said. “So what.”

“So I don’t care in the event you don’t care,” Bukka said.

“I don’t care,” Hukka replied.

“Then so what,” Bukka confirmed.

They were silent again, staring down on the miracle, trying to simply accept its incomprehensibility, its beauty, its consequences. “We must always go and introduce ourselves,” Bukka said after some time. “They should know who’s in charge.”

“There’s no rush,” Hukka replied. “I feel we’re each just a little crazy straight away, because we’re in the midst of an awesome craziness, and we each need a minute to soak up it, and to get a grip on our sanity again. And within the second place . . .” And here he paused.

“Yes?” Bukka urged him on. “What’s within the second place?”

“Within the second place,” Hukka said slowly, “we’ve to come to a decision which one in every of the 2 of us goes to be king first, and who will likely be within the second place.”

“Well,” Bukka said, hopefully, “I’m the neatest.”

“That’s debatable,” Hukka said. “Nonetheless, I’m the oldest.”

“And I’m probably the most likable.”

“Again, debatable. But I repeat: I’m the oldest.”

“Yes, you’re old. But I’m probably the most dynamic.”

“Dynamic isn’t the identical thing as regal,” Hukka said. “And I’m still the oldest.”

“You say that as if it’s some form of commandment,” Bukka protested. “Oldest goes first. Where does it say that? Where’s that written down?”

Hukka’s hand moved to the hilt of his sword. “Here,” he said.

A bird flew across the sun. The earth took a deep breath. The gods, if there have been any gods, stopped doing what they were doing and paid attention.

Bukka gave in. “O.K., O.K.,” he said, raising his hands in give up. “You’re my older brother and I really like you and also you go first.”

“Thanks,” Hukka said. “I really like you, too.”

“But,” Bukka added, “I get to come to a decision the subsequent thing.”

“Agreed,” Hukka Sangama, who was now King Hukka—Hukka Raya I—said. “You get first pick of bedrooms within the palace.”

“And concubines,” Bukka insisted.

“Yes, yes,” Hukka Raya I said, waving an irritated hand. “And concubines as well.”

After one other moment’s silence, Bukka attempted an awesome thought. “What’s a human being?” he wondered. “I mean, what makes us what we’re? Did all of us start out as seeds? Are all our ancestors vegetables, if we return far enough? Or did we grow out of fishes? Are we fishes who learned to breathe air? Or possibly we’re cows who lost our udders and two of our legs? One way or the other I’m finding the vegetable possibility probably the most upsetting. I don’t wish to discover that my great-grandfather was a brinjal, or a pea.”

Cartoon by Amy Kurzweil

“And yet it’s from seeds that our subjects have been born,” Hukka said, shaking his head. “So the vegetable possibility is probably the most probable.”

“Things are simpler for vegetables,” Bukka mused. “They’ve their roots, in order that they know their place. They grow, and so they serve their purpose by propagating after which being consumed. But we’re rootless and we don’t wish to be eaten. So how are we alleged to live? What’s a human life? What’s life and what isn’t? Who and what are these 1000’s we’ve just brought into being?”

“The query of origins,” Hukka said gravely, “we must leave to the gods. The query we must answer is that this one: now that we discover ourselves here—and so they, our seed people, are down there—how lets live?”

“If we were philosophers,” Bukka said, “we could answer such questions philosophically. But we’re poor cowherds only, who became unsuccessful soldiers, and have suddenly one way or the other risen above our station, so we had higher just get down there and start, and discover the answers by being there and seeing how things work out. A military is an issue, and the reply to the query of the military is to fight. A cow is an issue, too, and the reply to the query of the cow is to exploit it. Down there may be a city that appeared out of nowhere, and that’s an even bigger query than we’ve ever been asked. And so possibly the reply to the query of the town is to live in it.”

But still, as if dazed, the 2 brothers remained on the hill, immobile, watching the movement of the brand new people within the streets of the brand new city below them, and sometimes shaking their heads in disbelief. It was as in the event that they were afraid of taking place into those streets, afraid that the entire thing was some form of hallucination, and that in the event that they entered it the deception could be revealed, the vision would dissolve, and they might return to the previous nothingness of their lives. Perhaps their stunned condition explained why they didn’t notice that the people in the brand new streets, and in the military camp beyond, were behaving peculiarly, as in the event that they, too, had been driven just a little crazy by their incomprehension of their very own sudden existence. There was deal of shouting and crying, and among the people were rolling on the bottom and kicking their legs within the air, punching the air as if to say, Where am I? Let me out of here. Within the fruit-and-vegetable market people were throwing produce at each other, and it was unclear in the event that they were playing or expressing their inarticulate rage. In actual fact, they seemed incapable of expressing what they honestly wanted—food, or shelter, or someone to elucidate the world to them and make them feel secure in it, someone whose soft words could grant them the completely happy illusion of understanding what they may not understand. The fights in the military camp, where the brand new people carried weapons, were more dangerous, and there have been injuries.

The sun was already diving toward the horizon when Hukka and Bukka finally made their way down the rocky hill. As evening shadows crawled across the numerous enigmatic boulders that crowded their path, it looked as if it would them each that the stones were acquiring human faces, with hole eyes that examined them closely, as if to ask, “What, are these unimpressive individuals those who brought a complete city to life?” Hukka, who was already putting on royal airs like a boy trying on the brand new birthday clothes his parents had left on the foot of his bed while he slept, selected to disregard the staring stones, but Bukka grew afraid, since the stones didn’t appear to be their friends, and will easily start an avalanche that might bury the 2 brothers endlessly, before they were in a position to step into their glorious future. The brand new city was surrounded by rocky hillsides of this type, except along the riverbank, and all of the boulders on all of the hills now looked as if it would have change into giant heads, whose faces wore hostile frowns, and whose mouths were on the verge of speech. They never spoke, but Bukka made a note. “We’re surrounded by enemies,” he told himself, “and if we aren’t quick to defend ourselves against them they’ll thunder down upon us and crush us.” Aloud he said to his brother the king, “You understand what this city doesn’t have, and desires as soon as possible? Partitions. High, thick partitions, strong enough to resist any attack.”

Hukka nodded his assent. “Construct them,” he said.

Then they entered the town and, as night fell, found themselves on the dawn of time, and within the midst of the chaos that’s the first condition of all recent universes. By now, a lot of their recent progeny had fallen asleep, on the street, on the doorstep of the palace, within the shadow of the temple, in every single place. There was also a rank odor within the air, because a whole bunch of the residents had fouled their garments. Those that weren’t asleep were like sleepwalkers, empty individuals with empty eyes, marching through the streets like automata, buying fruit on the fruit stalls without knowing what they were putting of their baskets, or selling the fruits without knowing what they were called, or, on the stalls offering religious paraphernalia, buying and selling enamel eyes, pink and white with black irises, selling and buying these and plenty of other trinkets to be utilized in the temple’s each day devotions without knowing what deities liked to receive which offerings, or why. It was night now, but even within the darkness the sleepwalkers continued buying, selling, roaming the confused streets, and their glazed presences were much more alarming than those of the stinking sleepers.

The brand new king, Hukka, was dismayed on the condition of his subjects. “It looks like that witch has given us a kingdom of subhumans,” he cried. “These individuals are as brainless as cows, and so they don’t even have udders to present us milk.”

Bukka, the more imaginative of the 2 brothers, put a consoling hand on Hukka’s shoulder. “Calm down,” he said. “Even human babies take a while to emerge from their moms and begin respiration air. And once they emerge they do not know what to do, and in order that they cry, they laugh, they piss and shit, and so they wait for his or her parents to deal with every little thing. I feel what’s happening here is that our city continues to be within the means of being born, and all these people, including the grownups, are babies straight away, and we just should hope that they grow up fast, because we don’t have moms to take care of them.”

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