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Archive for October 15th, 2013

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A frightful sight was the knight astride a horse caparisoned with silver buckles and headpiece of gold. The beast knew his fame alright. His flaring nostrils and sleek body armor plated gave a terrible aspect, and flanks catching shafts of light from infernal regions he emerged, made all who saw him shudder. The rider whose visor was down held his shield loosely and sat as if born to ride didn’t stir.
He let his steed make his paces.
The animal at last spoke. He said,’ O Knight of Thousand Wars have we not covered ourselves in glory?’
War said,’ None dared hold ground before us.’ The horse said,’ Isn’t time then we called it a day and rested from our bloody business?’
War would have but there were three other horses closely in heels. The horses bearing knights named Plague Famine just paused till Knight Death caught up with them. Seeing this infernal sight of nags of the most loathsome aspect Knight War patted his horse by the mane and said,’From where are these coming?’
The war horse shrugged off saying that these were ever on heels the day they set out to conquer.
War had to agree that they would not be able to alight for the fear of being trampled to death by them.

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The Garden of Neden

 

The Garden of Neden is a part of Cyprus but you shall not find it in any of the maps. It is something like what happened to Atlantis that overnight disappeared from view. The sea covers now where the mighty Atlantis once stood. The Garden of Neden suffered a similar fate.  So I will not go into that part and instead narrate a story that is very entertaining. The Island of Cyprus still rings from the events to which the Garden  had a part.

No mark for guessing the inhabitants of Island of Cyprus are called Cypriots. But those who lived in the Garden,-take my word for it, Sleepy Heads they were called. 

The garden of Neden in terms of geography lay facing Morphou Bay on the west; the thin strip of beach on the north ringed a promontory running to a foul smelling beach on the east. It was flat and mottled with patches of color resembling some leftover of a pancake. It was an eyesore. Once a well meaning Cypriot told a Sleepy Head, “Your beach smells dirty.” The Sleepy Head’s response was, “Don’t tell me you intend to do something about it?” Oh no the Cypriot didn’t want to do anything about it except make an observation. So the beach remained as it was.

 

The very nature of the people of the Garden was such they let Nature take care of herself. What we may call as laziness they termed as being natural. As a proof to this the word laziness never did figure in their dictionaries.

Yet they lived on the bounties of Nature as though their naturalness allowed her to keep on providing for their bellies. For a Sleepy Head eating his meal was the number one in his daily life. He would have eaten at all hours if he could but the question what not to eat made him miss his meals. Everyday was a feast day only that he never got to know where it was celebrated. He made to the nearest table to dine but found to his cost that one man’s meat was another man’s poison. He made no bones about his place at the dining table but just the same he always had a crow to pick with the cook.

The Sleepy Heads left things as they were. Hungry or not.

Their days were spent taking life as it came. Next to a good meal the Sleepy Heads loved to play. They made rules as they went on so the loser had something of an advantage. At least he thought he had. Anytime he had a lead he let it find it own level. Every Sleepy Head took his play seriously so much so to call it politics.

Advantages such as they got with the governments they chose, became a political system that the body of Sleepy Heads let it find its own level. Thus once they had kings to rule the Garden but they went on changing rules, it was more like musical chairs: kings ended up looking for a chair to hang their authority in while Sleepy Heads changed the tune.

Perhaps politics for them was more like a game and their naturalness was so pure they gave the loser a standing ovation while the winner was sent to walk hot coals. Sleepy Heads tried many models and found the games as with politics none ever lost. Their naturalness never suffered since spirit of the play was the thing.

A Sleepy Head played to lose. Since he made work his play he worked for no purpose. He gave tit for tat and pat came his retorts but none saw any difference in such give and take. He told tall stories but finished them short so whoever heard him thought he was only wasting his time.

A Sleepy Head took the easy way out even where it led nowhere. No wonder Cypriots took them to task but found it easier to make remarks that didn’t cut even an onion.

 

2.

An average Sleepy Head grew to a middling height and did not bow and scrape before titled heads.( His stature did not prevent him from calling a spade a spade as long as he was not asked to use one.) Judging by their mode of dress of course it was very plain and coarse; only a Robinson Crusoe could have chosen it as a last resort. In terms of technology of course they would have looked to the Flintstones with a touch of envy. The Sleepy Heads were by and large ingenious and they lived as best as any people could, mind you without a sweat, a proof of which may be gathered from the fact that no one ever died among them either of hunger or disease.

Since their recorded history is wiped clean we may assume they had to come to terms with events that overshadowed the fortunes of the Island of Cyprus. Since they were born to be happy no matter how the rest of the world convulsed over matters great and small they didn’t express any awe while mentioning the name of Suleiman the Great. He was to them the father of Selim the Sot. The King of Cypress who was noted for his gargantuan belly they described as the king behind His belly. The Sleepy Heads sure knew fellow with such a belly was no more to be revered than one however ‘great’ to raise a son who was a lush. By the same token whatever they did was only a hiccup in the even tenor of their lives.

If the conflict between the Turks and the Venetians kept an ordinary Cypriot awake the Sleepy Heads simply laughed it out.

3.

The Sleepy Heads with such ominous clouds in the offing could afford to be lackadaisical since they played politics. In that game of politics they let their Mayor do all their work. They made merry from sunrise till sundown and declared all was well. Besides there was a Scholar who did all the soul searching for them in matters of their faith and belief. Without them the story, which I narrate would be a non-starter.

It so happened that some three decades before our story begins one of the inhabitants was washed away by a swell; he was a young man who was a typical Sleepy Head in temperament and abilities. A Venetian who adopted him as his own son also taught him the way of the world. When he chose to return after many years he had acquired all the trappings of a scholar. Gervais the idler had become enlightened after breezing through so many universities and lecture halls in Europe to drop his rather boring name to Jerry. At Sorbonne he acquired a nickname in commensurate with his level of scholarship. Whatever manner in which his detractors may have pronounced it to annoy him Jerry Can believed he was a Full Can, which was not what any fool can. Dr. Jerry ‘Full’ Can set up his school in his native land and he avowed, ‘to drive some sense into his compatriots.’

While he was at Sorbonne he found out that the medieval unicorn was none other than a rhinoceros. It was a great letdown for many of his fellow scholars. He vowed that such an error should never occur to him. As an idler he was all for sweeping the old ideas of being natural and he knew he shall find one for his fellow men. After a dream he has had he found one more in the shape of the king, a man of gargantuan girth who gave gifts. He knew God had expressly shown it so he may make the Gift-giving day a day to remember him. The learned doctor knew God had a mission and he was his instrument. But after his stint in Sorbonne he knew he had to be a saint. By and by when he returned to the Garden he held a serious palaver with the new mayor and their talks got around to more serious things. The scholar wanted to know if the mayor believed in a higher Being who gave gifts. The wily Mayor Calisthenics put back the question to him. He said,’ Yes. Santa Claus is His name’. The mayor thought a saint who gave presents would bring the Sleepy Heads together as one. Next day he called for his Council and said, “ There is a Higher Being who gives according to what we put in. So we need to teach our people to work together for a better society.”

Why work against our naturalness?” one councilor asked and it caused such a controversy among the Sleepy Heads. In their eyes a Higher Being was OK even if he came by a strange name as Santa Claus. Dr Jerry also fuelled their expectations by saying that there was a Great One who bestowed riches and every good thing for the asking. The Sleepy Heads had considered themselves sufficient unto themselves till that time. How they took to Dr. Jerry ‘Full’ Can, showed the Sleepy Heads were like everybody else in some things.

They loved the learned doctor to lecture to them, especially the part where they were entitled to free gifts.

At a time Venice controlled the destiny of the island Mayor Calisthenics was sent to the Garden to give the king of the Sleepy Heads a lesson in good governance. In such a move Venice miscalculated since the Sleepy Heads never let either the king or any other run their lives for them. For all that Mayor Calisthenics made them change their ways. For better or worse I cannot tell but you may judge yourself from the story.

In 1570 the Ottomans took over the island state of Cyprus. Well almost. Except for a Garden, which had been elevated into a town. The Sleepy Heads remained free. How did it happen? 

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