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Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty
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Adventures in Aipotu: Episode 4, Part 1

A Bored Creator

Suddenly the sky turned dark. A large flock of giant eagles completely filled the sky cutting off the sun. The flock swept towards the hordes of angry painters and landed between the TruthSeekers with Damini and the hordes. The hordes shrunk back in fear. One eagle walked up to Damini. "Hello Damini", she said. "Remember me? I am Goldee!" "Wow", Damini replied awestruck. The small stuffed eagle had now grown into a huge bird - much bigger than Damini. "You have grown very large, Goldee". "Haha", Goldee laughed. (I write "haha" but really, who has heard an eagle laugh?) "Are you sure it is I who has grown bigger and not you who has grown smaller? It could be an issue of perspective, couldn't it?", Goldee teased. Damini stared at Goldee. What Goldee was saying was indeed true. While Damini wondered, Goldee lifted her on to her back, and rose into the sky. The TruthSeekers waved at Damini. The other eagles stayed on the ground.

"What about the others, Goldee?", Damini asked, concerned about the TruthSeekers. "Do not worry about them", Goldee replied. "The other groups had never moved out of their positions. Now, since they were forced to move to destroy those they thought the degenerates, they saw a perspective of the statue that they had never though existed. It will change them completely. It will make them realize that other perspectives of the statue, other truths exist. They will become much broader in how they think. It will not make that a perfect place but certainly a better place. But something seems to be bothering you, Damini?", Goldee queried.

Damini was quiet for a while. Yes, something was bothering her. Finally, she asked Goldee: "Why is it that I have begun to forget things? For example, I do not seem to remember simple poems. I am worried that I will slowly forget everything I learnt." "Don't worry, dear", Goldee replied. "You have not begun to forget anything. You have only begun to unlearn. Every culture that we live in teaches us certain values and indoctrinates us in a subliminal manner. These may include certain values of superiority and inferiority. For example, in certain cultures it is believed that certain classes of people are intrinsically less intelligent. Isn't that stupid?" "Yes", said Damini, "how can any intelligent person think that way?" "And then", continued Goldee, "you add in value messages about importance of religion, or certain kinds of religions, messages of gender superiority, about why some jobs are for better people than for others, about why people stay poor. These subliminal messages become deeply ingrained in us that we take them as the real truth. Thus, we do not worry about the lives of poor people, for example, because we assume that they are poor primarily because of their laziness. Aipotu has a wondrous environment. It begins to drain out all the subliminal premises from within you and makes you see how things in appear without these indoctrinated messages. Then you can decide which values you want to keep and which ones you want to discard."

"That is very similar to how the other groups were looking at the statue of the elephant, Goldee", Damini said, beginning to understand what Goldee was getting at. "You are right", Goldee replied. "The StaticFrogs, for example, had ingrained within themselves that only the leader sees the truth. So strongly was this ingrained in their system that they were willing to be blind to what they were really seeing. This is what indoctrination does to you. It makes you turn blind to the wrong around you."

Damini nodded in agreement. "I can see how some of those values come through to us, Goldee. Values about superiority of certain religions, for example. Or how we may turn our noses on children from lower economic classes or different races."

"You understand that there are different perspectives and there is a need to live among these perspectives without assigning superiority to one or the other even though some perspective may be closer to us, more valid for us based on where in life we are - that is remarkable. In Aipotu, you will find other questions that will intrigue you, Damini. You will find questions that are closest to your heart. So go forth with an open mind, dear", added Goldee lovingly.

All this while, Goldee had flown fast and far and now they were at a completely different place. Down below was a forested island. Goldee began to descend. Damini could make out a village on that island. Goldee descended on the island a few hundred yards from the village. "Off you go, Damini", Goldee said. "This will be your next site of exploration. And you will meet someone interesting", Goldee added smiling. (Do not ask me how an eagle smiles. I am but a poor wordsmith and will fail to describe it accurately. But Goldee did smile and you will know when you see her smile) Damini got off Goldee and thanked her for saving her life and bringing her here. As Goldee flew off, Damini realized that her perspective on truth had indeed changed. She knew she would see the world with different eyes now.

Damini turned towards the thicket. There was one beaten track that led into a not too dense set of tropical trees. As she walked, she thought about whom she was going to meet that Goldee thought she would find interesting. It was quiet dark between the trees with some light from the filtering sunbeams. The ambience was happy with birds chirping and squirrels and rabbits prancing around unafraid. The track became narrower as it went around a gentle hill. As she went around the path the air turned serene. The vegetation changed too as if she had entered a garden in the middle of this forest. All noises that existed moments earlier stopped. All she could hear now were sounds of silence -the gurgling of water and the rustling of leaves.

Among these sounds, as if from a distance, she could barely discern sounds of laughter. She began to walk towards this sound, carefully finding her way through rose bushes and tulip patches. There was lush grass with flowers of all colors. This was certainly a place of magic. The sound of water and of laughter had grown louder. Coming around a hedge, she saw a stream running through. The stream bifurcated around a small island and then reunited. There were people of all kinds laughing and playing on the island - all except an old man who was sitting on the stage watching all the others. Even more strangely, there were all kinds of animals who walked among these people - horses, zebras, elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, lions, kangaroos, etc. It was strange to see a mixture of animals you would not find together in a natural environment. Even more strange was to see the predators and the prey walk about together. For a moment she was frightened. But then she decided that if the others could play there safely, so could she. She looked for a way to get onto the island and join the fun. A few yards from where she stood, she discovered a wooden footbridge.

Crossing the bridge, she realized that the atmosphere had changed even further. If the garden was serene, on this island she felt as if she was at absolute peace with herself. There were no worries. The air was almost electric. The people on the island continued to play completely oblivious of Damini. Damini walked towards the stage where the old man was sitting. He had a long white beard and long flowing hair. He was bare-chested and wore a simple white pair of trousers. An open coat hung from his shoulders. As staff lay next to him. A lion walked by behind her, his tail brushing against her leg and yet Damini felt no fear. The man looked up, saw Damini and said, "Hello, Damini. I have been expecting you. Come, sit next to me."

Damini was completely taken aback. "How did this person know who I am?", she wondered. She gave voice to her astonishment adding, "Who are you and who are all these people?" The man quietly smiled without answering and looked back at the men and women who were playing.

Damini stared at him for a while. Then following his gaze, she looked at the people. There were men and women with well-sculpted bodies like the Greek Gods and Goddesses she had seen in pictures. There was one man in a brownish robe with a crown of thorns on his head. There were some people wearing traditional Indian clothes with auras around their heads. And then it struck Damini! She could identify Gods and Goddesses she had heard of and there were many more she had not. There were the Greek Gods - Zeus and Apollo and she also recognized Aphrodite and Persephone. And there she recognized Jesus. Farther away she recognized some Hindu deities - the half-naked Shiva with his trident and his consort Parvati and there was Vishnu with his discus. She was awestruck. This explained a number of things - the ambience, the serenity. Before she could find her voice, the man sitting next to her queried, "So now you understand?"

"Only partly", Damini replied. "Have you ever ridden on an elephant - a wild African tusker?", asked the old man. Damini had ridden on an Indian elephant in a zoo but never on a tusker and she said so. "Come", said the man, "let us ride on an elephant and talk as we go." He took Damini's hand and walked up to an elephant that kneeled as they approached. The man helped her climb on the tusker's back and then climbed up himself to sit behind her. He gently patted the animal and the tusker rose. As the elephant began to walk, Damini could feel a gentle swaying motion. With his hand on her shoulder for assurance, the man continued, "Yes, I am the God you believe. There is little for me to do these days. Often I sit here and become bored. So then I take all the various forms you have ascribed to me and allow them to play with each other. Thus I entertain myself."

Damini's face had begun to darken. "What do you mean 'there is little for you to do?'", she demanded angrily. "There are wars all over Earth. People die of hunger. And you say there is little for you to do? Why don't you intervene and stop all this misery and pain?"

God smiled in a manner of a grandfather patiently tolerating a grandchild who is throwing a tantrum. Then he began to explain. "When the human civilization was younger, I sometimes came and lived on Earth in various forms as you know me by, intervening and helping humans solve their problems. At other times, I instructed some humans to behave in a certain manner, or follow some of my instructions to reduce misery, or help resolve wars. These measures helped only partially. There was only a slight augmentation of the wisdom of human beings. However, on every occasion I intervened, a new cult or a new religion was formed behind the wisdom and actions of that event. Soon there were all these cults and groups claiming to be the only true seekers of the truth and massacring the others. A really pitiful state, I said to myself. That put dampers on any plans to go visit you folks again."

With that, God assumed a rather somber mood and sat quietly on the elephant. Damini sat quietly too. The elephant walked on. A number of birds of different colors and interesting plumages had descended on the elephant and sat around them. One large parakeet sat on the God's head with its tail fanned open looking like the God was wearing a large colorful turban. The air was fragrant and a gentle breeze blew over the island.
 

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By Sanat Mohanty
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