Thursday, 1 July 2010

exclusively for the puja

as per usual, the first installment of this series can be found here.

now, rash generalisations and racial stereotyping play a significant role in the development of many epics. this, however, is not one of them. nonetheless, it is sufficient to say that where alphonse has been the antithetical foreigner or gai jin, amaru is not the paragon of eastern values we have come to know and sometimes love. instead, we should think of his role in this story as an extreme personification of 'eastern' values, though not all of them, as we will find, are admirable.

while alphonse wiles his ways and dears his days in the procurement of hedonism and pursuit of fermastika's lips, amaru toils silently in the shadows, watching and waiting for a moment most opportune. a single flower of the white lotus, that blooms only once every twelve fortnights, corresponding to the summer solstice, is symbolic of amaru's first element of puja. and, unlike one who would pay handsomely for such a gift, while sitting atop his throne in the safety behind green eyes, amaru would climb the northern peaks of gunung ledang, where the biting cold of nights are the only temperature permissible to the growth of white lotuses - and to do this he is warmed only by his devotion and fed only by his persistence.

three months pass before amaru is able to satisfy his offering, and satisfy himself in an offering; in this time alphonse has progressed well beyond the touch of fermastika's skin to the scent of her locks and the taste of her lips, but nevermore would amaru come to know of these things. instead, he has busied himself with his next task, of rectifying the wrongs and soliciting the rights fermastika has left in her wake, descent from her ephemeral abode in the sky above gunung ledang. as unbeknownst before and ever to come, fermastika, at the end of amaru's task, would be absolved of all sin, however little she may have had, and offered good will wherever she may go, however how far she may have travelled. and this task takes amaru through the cycles of years up to seven.

now amaru returns home from a world of unknown faces and unfriendly gestures, but he is ready with his white lotus and an offering of purity. alike his father, he sets home sailing the south china sea, and arrives in malacca only to discover his coup has long been left to its demise and his people have long passed from oppressed to complacently acceptable. the world has changed, and so has his home - amaru knows nothing any longer, of what has been his past, of what will be his future, but he knows that in the present, in the now, only one thing remains the same and that is his puja.

it is said that though fermastika has aged per decades of human life, her return to humanity had made her vulnerable to the senescence of man, and so, now at the age of 25, ready to be wed to her dreams and hopes, one that her mother-and-princess never could have had, fermastika sets home to gunung ledang, awaiting the hand of someone, anyone who would be so bold as to offer her the dreams of life.

as per his workings, alphonse has set such that he would parade with and on his wealth to the pinnacle in the formality of gaining fermastika's favour. at the head of his entourage, he rides upon his white elephant. fanned by mystical sirens and fed by maidens from the arab peninsula, he rides in style and leads with command. accompanied by a thousand men and three thousand women of various statures and races, in his offering he brings:

a bridge of gold
a house of silver
seven jars of pristine, virgin diamonds
seven bowls of sangiunar uncut rubies
seven trays of gold dust, purified by the tears of natives from the new world
seven phalanges of viallic ambrosia, bought from the greek pantheon
and the promise of the blood of any sons and daughters he would ever have

before we break and follow the quest of amaru, it is pivotal to the story to note that alphonse promises this unworldly gift of children's blood only because his consulting physicians have informed him of his 'malady of the blood' in which his offspring will suffer an agonising, premature death, brought on by malignant impurity of the white blood. and to this, his ends, what they may be, we will never know.

three weeks and sixfold days journey on foot, amaru approaches fermastika's refuge and temple, to witness alphonse's elaborate ceremony in motion. disheartened by the glitz and glamour of the occasion, amaru looks into his satchel to compare; falling short, he realises all that he could ever afford to offer:

a white lotus frozen in time and in space
absolution and ablutions from past and future human interactions (though this remains eternally intangible)
a poem wrought of dreams and stylised with ennui, a dreamer's catching of lost and forgotten reveries

and so he faces away and sits, to ponder.

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