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Adi & Praja 101

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9 Issue 101: The Shepherd



(The shepherd)

Of course, the day after that horror night, the sheep had to be given back to its owner. He wouldn’t be happy with the blood in the sheep’s wool. Shano, himself, after his wound was treated, wanted to bring the sheep back, and was followed at a little distance by most of the other boys. They still didn’t know if the shepherd or his wife had ever missed their one sheep, but they would find out soon. To their amazement the shepherd was not angry at all. He was standing on top of the hill when they came, as if he was expecting them. He said nothing, but it almost seemed as if he was smiling. Maybe even now he did not realize what had happened. Shano came to him with the sheep, and the only thing the man did was to look Shano straight in the eyes. A boy and a shepherd. But their eyes where those of two intelligent men, not those of a little boy and a stupid shepherd. However, none of those standing around noticed that. Finally the shepherd looked around and spoke to the boys: “Thank you for bringing my twelfth sheep, which you took away yesterday morning.” The boys felt ashamed. One of them said: “How did you know that you had twelve sheep.” “Because if the twelfth sheep is missing, all the other will die.” “So you can count, you actually know what “twelve” means?” “Yes,” said, the man, “I know very well what twelve means, better than you.” He continued: “Twelve is seven plus five; or four plus three plus five, it is three times four and four times three, or twice six, double three down and up; it is four plus three plus three and one above and one below. It is one plus two plus two plus two plus two plus two plus one. And if one sheep is missing, there can be no life.” The boys who could calculate, calculated quickly, and he was right. But what did he mean by “If one sheep is missing their can be no life.” One boy who could indeed follow the shepherds calculations who regarded himself as very clever, said: “And eight plus four!” “No,” said the shepherd. Not eight plus four. That is an unlucky number. They will fight, have no mind and see only the earth, and will all die.” The boy said nothing any more. He had not that much self-confidence to think of a proper answer. After this strange conversation, the boys went home, and while walking concluded that the man was more intelligent that they had ever guessed, but that he had become crazy. But when leaving, he had whispered in Shano’s ear: “One day you will understand” And Shano kept that secret, and silently believed that it was true. He felt wiser than ever before.

After this big adventure, and after Shano’s wound was healed, his house arrest was over, and the whole incident was more or less forgotten in everyone’s conviction that nothing like that – or worse – would ever happen again in their community. And so it was. Everything turned to normal, and it was cheerful, but somewhat boring. Shano was nine now, and a friend for everyone, but best he felt when he was alone, where he could sit and look and feel and think. Life went on for a year without much happening. Seasons came and went.

Nevertheless, if you waited long enough, sometimes some things did happen. A most special event was one day, when he was playing around the house, and he heard in a distance down the path a lot of noise of drums. Of course he ran to that place immediately, followed by his friends, and at the split of the trail they found a group of musicians. Never had Shano seen something like that on this scale. They were having different types of drums, with deep sounds, high pitched sounds, hard sounds and muted sounds, harsh sounds and nice sounds. There were also flutes and hobos and there was singing and dancing. The musicians and dancers were wearing colorful cloths and skirts. One of the musicians was sitting on a stone and was playing an instrument with a very long neck and a big belly. The man touched long strings which ran over the neck and the belly of the instrument with his fingers, moving his hand up en down fanatically. There were strings above, and below these were other strings which he never touched, but seemed to make sound by themselves. Sometimes he would sing at the same time. Shano felt very much attracted. He had never seen or heard anything like this. It sounded somewhat like the water of the brook, but every tone resounded a long time, and so at any time he could more than one tone at once – harmony, as he found out that it was called much later in his life. It was miraculous. And it had a pattern. He had studied the water so intensely that he knew that the same sound or melody never returned exactly. But in this instrument was a scheme, a system, and many times he heard that the same melody was coming back. He had not been able to answer the question who had make the music of the brook and the birds and the winds, but now he saw that this music was made by a man. In the middle of the flat top side of the otherwise round belly of the instrument was a hole, or rather a sculpture covering a hole. This by itself was astounding. It was carved of some wood into a special figure like a flower. Was it this flower which actually produced that sound? Or was it the strings, or the man, or all of them together. Why did it have that big belly. Was their a ‘phone’ in that belly? But all that he forgot. He became absorbed in the sound, and it was as if the man was playing for him only, because he could feel the same feelings within himself as came from the instrument. He hardly was aware anymore of the other instruments and the dancing men and women. It was as if some divine beings were dancing within himself. He listened and listened, and when it was finally finished, he did not get up but listened as if the music was going on. He knew one thing: he wanted to be a musician playing that instrument.

What Shano did not know is that this man was not ‘just a musician.’ Despite his simplicity he was actually a very great musician. But he had never been discovered by some impresario, and he was much to humble to regard himself as a good musician. His only wish was to make people happy with his music. And he had, of course, noticed Shano, and played for him specifically, without mentioning it, or even looking at him. Nor Shano, nor the man, knew that the man was playing a role in Shano’s destiny, and that the man and Shano had both come there to meet each other after a very long time. But they themselves did not know that, and thought that it was just good luck – for the one to have such an attentive young listener, for the other to hear such a masterly musician.

But to everything is an end, and the musicians left, no doubt to perform elsewhere, but they did not say where that was. Everything came back to normal.

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