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Adi & Praja 069

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 7

Issue 69: The choice and the disaster

The family, including Shano himself and Marico, became convinced that Shano would win the contest. The design had something so radiating, so real, so honest – it came from something deeper than Shano’s brain-mind alone. Also during an in-between visit of some of the committee members the family could feel that they were more inclined toward Shano’s design; except one member with a thick belly, who was talking to Marico only.

(69)

(The Choice and the disaster)

A few weeks later came the great day: all three were invited to the city and brought their wives, and the committee would decide – though there was hardly any doubt. And they choose Marico’s design. Secretly some if the richer people had bribed some of the poorer committee members of less morality to vote for Marico’s project, and thus had secured a majority. This was too much for Shano, and though he celebrated outwardly with his brother (again becoming exceedingly drunk) and said nothing negative, inside he burnt of anger and frustration. Practically there was not much difference – because they would do the work together, each according to his skills. Or could they? But the mean decision had brought all the old bottled-up jalousies in Shano to the surface, and his whole emotional being was set on fire. For now he drank it away, under Sundaree’s protest, but even she didn’t know what was playing in Shano’s breast.

The next day they would start the journey home, and every one (except Shano) happy that they would earn a remarkable sum of money – which they could well use for the education of the children and for expansion of the company, in which some of the children had reached the age in which they could help. On the way they slept in tents or just on a blanket under the stars, and the women prepared simple foods. Shano was silent most of the time. Marico said to Shano – he meant it as a joke: “You see, I am the winner, see how your wife looks at me. One day I will have two wives!” All laughed, except Shano. He stood up, took a pole of wood in his hand, walked slowly to Marico, came close-by, and spitted him in his face. Marico was flabbergasted. Shano had done nothing like that ever before. Without a word Shano rose the wooden pole, and before Marico could do anything Shano hit him on the face, and crushed his jaw. Blood and some teeth came out. But before he had time to get scared Shano hit him a second time, this time on his leg, and because he was very strong as a result of carrying heavy wood for decades, he broke it in one blow. Marico raised his hand in defense, and two of his fingers were broken. In the mean time the two women and their companion from the other town managed to come in between and separate the two men. Shano shouted: “I have won, I have won, finally, I have taken my revenge.” Nobody, including Shano himself or Marico, knew actually for what he was taking revenge. But all his suppressed anger dating from his childhood (and, as we know, even from much earlier) came to the surface in the form of an energy that Shano’s sane mind had no longer been able to contain.

Very soon they realized that the project was over, and so was their future, and their family relation. Marico would never be able anymore to do the fine woodcarving because of his broken hand. His face would always remain ugly, deformed, and he would limp the rest of his life. Nobody would ever want Shano to work for them – if he would not been killed out of revenge. Marico’s damaged body was laid on a camel cart, and brought to the doctors back in the city. They did what they could, and after some time Marico could eat normally again, and walk, though with a stick. Of course the story of what had happened reached the village long before they themselves arrived. The whole village was in shock. Nobody could understand why the normally so kind and helpful and dedicated Shano could do a thing like that to his brother. Nobody could accept the idea that the man who had once won the camel race, and had been given the assignment for building the prestigious temple in the temple, would never been able to do his work anymore – and would never be able to do more than give a little assistance to someone else for low payment.

As to Shano, he was dazed. He did hardly know what he had done. He thought that his brother, or friends of his brother, would take revenge and crush him also as soon as they saw the opportunity, or even kill him. The best he could expect is to be handed over to the authorities – and that was hardly a more rosy prospect. He now saw clearly that he had not won, but that both had lost, the one physically, the other, he himself, morally. He though of committing suicide, but was to cowardly.

At home, the old father was so shocked that he lost his mind. He spent the last two years of his life sitting in a corner of the house, all the time saying: “It is not possible, it is not possible. My sons don’t do such things.” Nobody could make any other contact with him. He hardly ate, became thin and sick, and finally died. Mother survived a few years. Her strength was amazing, though her sorrow was to the limit of what a human being can bear. She now understood why she had always been worried. She managed to handle the situation, to “accept” the situation as good as possible, and took care of the boys, their wives and the grandchildren as best she could as an old lady, talking words of courage and trying to be cheerful to them.

The first few weeks the brothers had not spoken to each other or even looked at each other. Even their wives didn’t know what went on in their minds and feelings. One thing is sure: it brought the two women closer together. They could have hated each other, but that is not what happened. They were aware that they were sailing in the same boat of destiny, and would have to do things together. Anna could have hated Sundaree, because it was her husband who had done it, but due to the seriousness of the situation she had found wisdom enough in herself to see that hatred and anger would only worsen the situation. So the family didn’t fall apart – it stayed together in the new situation. Shano had expected the rancor of his brother, and would even have found that reasonable. Out of shame, and also afraid of Marico’s reaction, Shano never dared to address Marico. Marico in the mean time had a hard time accepting his condition, his loss of everything dear to him, and didn’t really know if life was still worth continuing. But, different from what Shano thought, no feelings of resentment were in Marico’s heart. On the contrary, Marico accepted that he must have done something in the remote past that was the cause, or that had displeased the gods, and that in someway he owed the situation to himself – even though with his mind he could not think of what it was that he had done to invite this experience. Entirely opposite from what you might expect he felt some ‘gratitude’ to Shano. He had to rearrange his whole life, start all over again along different lines, and he started to feel that the spiritual side of life was more important than the material. Less busy with work he had more time to think, more time to give attention to the emotions of his wife and children, and to his own emotions. He also was aware that in some way Shano had something beautiful that he did not have – some type of refinement that seemed to come from a world to which he had no access. He could not accept that Shano was ‘evil,’ even though he had done the worst thing one can imagine.

After a few weeks Marico broke the silence by asking Shano whether he could bring him a glass of water. When he got it, he just said: “Thank you.” Shano was amazed that his brother said “thank you” to him – he didn’t feel that Marico had much reason to be thankful to him. More often Marico would ask small things to Shano, and slowly they came back to speaking terms. Marico even started to teach some personal skills in wood carving to Shano, so that he could do the work he could no longer do. Shano felt respect for his brother’s ability to forgive, but at the same time felt growing remorse. He himself had difficulty living with what he had done. He started to feel a sympathy for Marico that he never had felt before. He became his brother’s great support during the rest of their life, and by the time both were old men they felt genuine friendship that was on a deeper level that just friendship. They never became rich of course, because the greatness of that had once dawned in the future had never materialized.

In the meantime their children had taken over the business, and with much success. Times had changed, and they ran several shops and workshops over an increasing number of towns and cities, and they had taken on a dozen employees, all educated in the fine techniques and skills of several generations. Ultimately for Marico and Shano – with some ten years difference, the time had come to die, and a few years later, their wives, now great grandmothers, also died.

Some words have to be added about the women also. Despite all that happened, Shano’s mother had always been grateful to Sundaree that she had saved Shano from a life of drunkenness and decline. She had come to know Sundaree as a woman with a great heart, and who was characterized by a great measure of self-forgetfulness. Sundaree from her side had admired the mother because she was always helping old and sick villagers, and when mother was growing old, Sundaree had slowly adopted her function. She even had a good understanding with the now extremely old witch. The family was widely respected and loved – though that one thing that had happened nobody ever understood, and everyone avoided to talk about it.

(70)

(thousand years later)

Almost a thousand years later Shano and Marico (though of course they were given different names by their then parents in the language of the country in which they were born) became again brothers. This time Shano was a few years older than Marico.

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