Coming home to roost


Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the ShadowT.S. ELIOT: The Hollow Men For Ali Yendor climbs the mountainLast night I said to Yendor: What will you do tomorrow?Tomorrow I shall go up to the big cave in the mountain, in the heat of the day. I shall sit outside the entrance of the cave, and feel the cool air that comes from deep down wafting over me and watch the sunlight dance upon the lip of the cave.And I shall remain there as the Sun sets low in the sky, as the shadows lengthen and shafts of light penetrate deeper and deeper into the recesses of the cave. And I will summon up courage to enter the cave and in the dimness I shall move down along the passages until finally I behold a huge cavern in the very heart of the mountain. There, I shall create a shrine for the One of my Dreams.And every evening thereafter, as the Sun dips down below the horizon in a glow of crimson and a shroud of mist descends upon the mountain, I shall enter the cavern and light a candle for the One of my Dreams. For we cannot tell what the future holds for us; we can but dream beautiful dreams.A Rooster crowed cacophonously. The unrest spread from the Barn across the valley and upwards with the shroud of mist that drifted slowly and dissipated in the half-light. Banished from the recesses of the dark, the shadows fled. Amid the stirrings, Dawn was breaking over the valley. The Mountain stood resplendent in the glory of the Sun-rise, its verdant slopes glistening with dew.Sleepy-headed milk-maids swished across the farm-yard into the byre, to the clanking of buckets. The world of Work was awakening to the turning cogs of timeless routines. The wood-shed was alive with foragers, to relight the fires and greet the day.In the pens, the pigs surged forward noisily to their troughs and the goats strained upon their tethers for their feed; ducks, turkeys, chickens, geese, all a fluster of feathers and squawk, in the chaos before the pecking-order is set, and the scene settles upon the nest-boxes once more. Beneath the risen Sun, the shadow of a Raptor passes across the Farm-yard, and all is still. Yendor is packed, and ready to set off for the mountain. The saturated long grass brushes against him as he steps out into the countryside, soaking his boots.He leaves the bubbling river in the valley as the path rises steadily upwards past boulders and rocky out-crops, climbing onto the moulded slopes, first in sunshine, then in shadow, as it circles the incline. Steep and narrow, the path winds heavenwards and then doubles back.Yendor stops for a rest, to catch his breath, leaving behind the chattering crickets and the bracken in the valley below. Then onward and upward, round and round, until the cave suddenly comes into view.Near the entrance to the cave is a rock. Yendor settles down on a clump of grass beside it and leans back in the shade to survey the Realm of beautiful lakes and peaks, and valleys of plenty. The Sun blazes down, but Yendor waits unperturbed, with his hat tipped down over his eyes, in reverie.A chill wind startles him. He awakes to find the Sun is dipping lower and lower, and the cave is lit up into the recesses. The time has come. Yendor lights his lantern and sets off into the cave, following the passages deep down. The shaft suddenly opens out into a huge cavern, dimly lit from vents high up in the roof of the cavern.On the walls Yendor can make out etchings and graffiti amidst the scrawl. From among these he can discern the names of people once known to him, but long-lost in the ravages of time, including Mercedes BendsAbove the broken bottles strewn upon the ground, the nameGodiva han Gover echoes across the darkness.High up in the Cavern hang the words Come back, Ayesha, all is forgiven!In the dimness, a shaft of light from above points the way to an alcove. Yendor has reached the object of his Quest. With a gigantic effort he moves a slab of stone into the fading light. Upon it he places a woven Prayer-mat from the Orient, a red Sari, his lantern -and finally he unpacks seven candles, which he arranges in a line across the plinth.Above the slab he unfurls a BannerY e h D i l A a s h K a n a aWith a heavy heart, Yendor kneels upon the ground before his shrine and lights the first candle, to light up the Temple of his dreams until the shadows flee and the day dawns once more.Thus it was that Yendor first touched down upon the carousel of life and sought his Creator. For we cannot tell what the future holds for us; we can but dream beautiful dreams..

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