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Adi & Praja 117

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 117: Rainforest

He was alone, had nobody to talk to, no music to play, but walked and walked to his unknown destiny. Was he sad or happy? He didn’t know. He didn’t care. The past had gone, the future hadn’t arrived, and he lived just in the now. His mind was too tired to think of the past or the future and of emotional events, but he was fully alert to every little movement of nature.


(the scary mountains and the rain forest)

Shano had now entered the scary mountains where nobody should go. What would happen seemed not to bother him anyway. But, for now at least, nothing special happened and everything around looked quite happy. The weather was cool and fair. But Shano himself wasn’t happy, of course. Whenever there was nothing to distract his mind – and there was indeed very little entertainment for the mind in the lonely fields between the mountains – his thoughts wondered to her, and to the moment she had pulled the veil over her head and had disappeared for ever.

Everything in life has a cause and reason, is good for something, it has a purpose also. But Shano could impossible think of what was the reason or good side of this experience. But we can. Therefore I am going to take you back tens of thousands of years, into a huge tropical rainforest somewhere on Earth. I will tell you things that Shano, nor his beautiful ex-girlfriend, remembered. And after that rather long story I will take you back to the scary/sacred mountains, where we leave Shano alone for now. Then we will see if these mountains were indeed scary or sacred, or both, and what happened to Shano in this uninhabited region of which some people said it was the most dangerous region on Earth.

The rainforest

It happened just during sunrise. Legions of birds were singing and chirping and calling the dawn, and insects and frogs were singing their last tunes of the night. A baby was crying, softly, almost kindly, in the early morning. It was a very small baby – in fact it were her first sounds after leaving her mother’s womb. Standing low and grasping a tree branch above her head, a mother had just given birth: a new miracle of nature. An old soul looked again into the world through human eyes. It was a perfect baby – a girl. Everyone in the village came to look, and everyone was really impressed by the beauty of the baby. Mother didn’t have to think long about a name for her: spontaneously she called her Moimoi – what meant Beauty in the language the people spoke then and there. Her skin was dark and spotless, and so where her eyes, and all proportions of her body showed the features of a perfect baby. She had some black curly hairs, and, though she was still to pristine even to smile, she seemed to have a natural smile on her little face. She found her mother’s breast, which was as perfect as a breast can be, and suckled it as if divine nectar was streaming forth from the universe for her alone. Every mother would have wished to have a baby like Moimoi.

The village consisted of a small group, maybe only 57 or 58 houses – if you may call them houses – in a small open space surrounded by high forest on all sides. The ‘houses consisted of some wooden poles made of branches or trunks from trees cut by strong men, and the roofs were covered with tightly interlaced palm leaves to protect the people from the rain. There were no walls. Walls were absolutely unnecessary, they had not even been invented. The people were living together like a large family, and they had nothing to hide and nothing to be stolen, because they always shared everything. The climate was perfect the year round – the daytime temperatures were comfortable, and the nights were cool, but never too cool. In some periods it was raining very often and very much, and in other seasons the rains were less – but the atmosphere was never dry. The idea of having walls or even cloths had never come the mind of these people.

The forest provided everything: healthy foods, the purest water, materials for building shelters, ornaments for the woman to adorn themselves (even then!), medicine, fire wood, protection, to make drums and a lot of other entertainment for young and old. Everything one needs for life was naturally present in the forest. Big leaves could be used as umbrellas, medium size leaves were folded into single-use cups to scoop and drink water from a creek or a rainwater pool, and there were root-like strings, actually air roots, hanging down from some trees, and some types were so fibrous that they could be used as strings to bind the corner poles and the roof branches of the houses. And large lianas, besides other uses, were used as swings by the children. Some of them became real Tarzans. There were sheaths of palms that looked like little boats and were used by girls to play mother, using some wooden or clay puppet as baby. Thus they could cradle their babies and walk around with them. So the people were quite happy and content there – though they had no means to compare themselves with other parts of the world. They had never heard about deserts or snow-topped mountains or endless plains of grass. They had never felt cold or thirsty or hungry.

So this was the environment where Moimoi opened her eyes for the first time – at sunrise. And she received heart-loads full of love from all around her (that is, almost all – but about that later). Even people from other villages – who were almost always family member in some at least remote way, came especially to see the baby. It was a very happy time for the whole village.

Just next to the group of shelters ran a small creek with sparkling dark colored water – very healthy to drink. The dark color of the water was a gift of the spirits of nature – because no mosquitoes could breed in that water. So the people there did not have to suffer that nuisance – which really could be a big annoyance at other places.

Everything went very well, and in the next year mother gave birth to an – also very beautiful – male twin. Father and mother decided to get no more children, and give all their time to these three. The three soon became intimate playmates, and other children joined the group also. The community, of course, had members of all ages.

When they were big enough to walk on their own feet, they would sometimes walk with mother to nearby villages – the nearest being about 45 minutes away, but later they sometimes walked as far as five hours. Father was a hunter, and he was often out in the forest. But most days he would come home in the evening and spend the night at home. On these trips with their mother the three children made a lot of discoveries. Not too far from the village was a large open spot, almost half a mile long and 900 feet at its widest. It was very hot there during the daytime. There were almost no trees, some scattered scrubs, but mainly a cover of grasses and herbs, or just sand. Some big herbivorous animals came there daily to graze – but there was always a risk for them of big carnivorous ones, like jaguars, coming to hunt them. The soil was a thick layer of coarse light brown sand, whereas the soil under the forest was mainly red or red-brown clay or loamy clay. The sand could not contain the water near the surface, and that is why only quick drinking herbs, and some very clever shrubs could benefit from the water. Such ‘clever’ shrubs had all kinds of techniques to get enough water. Some would stretch out a large circle of tiny branched rootlets around them, just below the surface of the sand, so that when the rain came they could absorb enough of it quickly before it sank to the depths.

Then, around such shrubs, almost no grasses or herbs even got a chance – so these shrubs stood as islands in dry sand. Once shrubs were there, they formed small protected, somewhat cooler and moister places so that other types could also germinate and grow there. Some shrubs could make roots at the surface first, and then, when they had collected enough force, would grow a bigger root straight down until it reached the water level down below under the sand. So the result would be that some shrub types were in the middle, but the wide-rooting ones would stand around them like a protective collar – so the scrubs has about the form of a flying saucer (but people there knew nothing about flying saucers of course).

The shrubs and the herbs had another strategy to protect themselves against the fierce sun and the hot, dry air: they just had reduced the size of their leaves, so that less water would evaporate out of their bodies. Many leaves were thicker, and harder as well. Altogether it meant that on this open spot other species of plants and flowers and fruits, and therefore insects and birds, were to be found as in the forest. Of course the little kids of the village didn’t have all these scientific views about the local ecology. Even their mother hadn’t or anyone in and around the village. But they felt the feelings of every place differently, mostly as different happinesses, but also some unhappinesses, for example where there were mosquitoes or mean biting flies. Then the kids would cry, and mother tried to avoid such places. But flies can fly, of course, so it wasn’t always easy to escape them.

This open spot was important for people also. It was one of the few dry places within walking distance. Because it was almost the only place where they had a wide view where they could look further than between the tree stems in the forest. There they could see the sky, the stars, the full moon and feel the wind. The open spot was a much needed psychological provision. And sometimes they would meet there in groups in the evening at full moon.

What the people there had long forgotten was that at a time in the remote past this forest land had been a coastal land, and wide rivers had been flowing into the sea there. Nowadays the sea was so far away that almost nobody had ever traveled to the coast. But in the past sea and the rivers brought materials like sands and loams and clays together, and the streams took care of an unequal division of the sands and loams and clays. That is because fast streaming water carries sands, and stagnant waters precipitate finer gains and particles, like clay particles. This was many thousands of year ago, but it explains – for us modern people at least – why there were open, treeless spots in the forest. In still earlier times, when the climate had been drier, the open places had been dominant, and the forests were like big islands surrounded by savannas.

On a larger distance were more of such spots. Because big animals would collect there in the evenings, it was also a hunting ground for human hunters. And thus people were often eating meats of the highest quality. Hunting the big mammals there with bow and arrow was easier – but more dangerous – than shooting a bird from a tree. The people there needed no cattle farms, no large stretches of agricultural land.

After a long walk, mother and the three toddlers would be quite tired and happy to be home. And it would be more happy if father had been able to shoot some big animal, like a tapir or a pig or a deer. Such were the best evenings. But more often he brought a monkey or a bird. The meat would be roasted over a fire and some leaves of the forest would make it even tastier. The whole village would share whatever had been brought in by the men, and it was like a feast.

The staple food however was some kind of bread, or flat white cakes, which were baked over fire and then further dried in the sun on the palm leaf roofs of the ‘houses.’ The flour for the bread was made from thick tubers growing underground, which had to be rasped and pressed and made into some kind of powder. The weirdest thing was that if you drank the fluid pressed out of the rasped pulp, or even ate the wet pulp, you would get very sick – children could even die. Only after cooking or baking the poison was gone. The person who had discovered the use of these tubers as food in times before human memory must have been a genius. Because of its poison they can not be eaten raw by animals – only humans, after discovering the process of rasping and pressing and making of fire could consume this food. No doubt the people living in the forest had learned it from other people – but somehow and somewhere it must have been discovered for the first time. Even nowadays it was used only in the more developed parts of the forest communities. Still deeper in the forest, beyond a very big river, the people had no fire and only acquired food by hunting animals and gathering fruits, nuts and honey. But in the technically advanced villages even agriculture had been developed (or remembered from dozens of generations back when it came from elsewhere, or when the open spaces were larger). Strong men with big stone axes attached to wooden grips would clear a patch of forest as large as half a football field of most of its trees, and then burn the fallen branches and stems for fertilizer, and so that sunlight could reach the ground. They would plant vegetables and put stalks of the bread providing plants who would then develop these tubers in the ground. Almost immediately the forest would try to fill the place again with trees, and usually after two years a new ground had to be cleared. This type of agriculture of tubers was an amazing invention, demanding ecological insight and intelligence in a number of different processes. But nobody ever asked who had discovered all this. It was just old knowledge.

At such pleasant occasions everyone would tell stories – or listen to one story teller. The stories were mostly about hunting adventures and courageous deeds by the hunters (of which nobody could check the truth in most cases), but also about ghosts and forest spirits. And of course the children believed every story. It was awesome for them – there, in the dark with only moonlight or not even that, and a small wood fire in the middle under the roof. And that is how they learned the stories they would later tell to the next generation, their children.

If the family walked into the opposite direction they would come to a large river.

D a i l y T h e o s o p h y ©

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