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Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty

Adventures in Aipotu: Episode 8, Part 2

There was little Aris could add. Damini had put it concisely. The odd couple of a young girl and an old turtle swam on. For a while a flock of swans came by and gave them some company. Such an odd pair on the surface of the lake surprised them. They knew Aris and participated in good-natured ribbing.

On the lake, travel
A rather odd couple
A ten-year-old girl
And a fossilized turtle.

Another one they sang, that seemed to especially irk Aris was:

Plato, Socrates and Aristotle
Have had their day, passed away
But problems that are tough and subtle
Will be solved by our Aris Turtle.

Aris groaned at their doggerels and asked them to fly away if they could think of nothing more intelligent. To which they replied

To solve the problems
Of the world
Swim a little girl
And a crabby turtle.

Damini laughed at their jokes and their lousy limericks. One time, she almost fell into the water. Eventually, the swans flew away. Their jokes had lightened the atmosphere and made Damini feel much better. As she watched the swans fly off, her attention to drawn to a weird shaped cliff that stood out in the horizon.

"What is that?", Damini asked, pointing towards the cliff. Aris was still grumpy about the doggerels that the swans sang. He looked at the direction that Damini was pointing to and cursed loudly. Quickly correcting himself at having cursed in the presence of Damini, he blamed the swans for having distracted his attention from the direction they were taking. "It is that cliff that we were heading towards", Aris said, "before those cursed swans came along and made me drift from our course. We would have almost missed it if you had not pointed it out. That is The Cliff of Truth."

"What's special about that cliff? It looks like an ugly old cliff to me. A black rock sticking out of the Earth. If that's all you wanted to show me, we might as well be on our way to the next site."

"Really?", Aris asked. "Is that all you see?"

"Well", Damini said a little more hesitantly. "All I see is a black rock. It has almost vertical sides. The right is slightly more jagged than the left but both are almost vertical walls. The top is a little rounded. In fact, it is almost like someone put a hemisphere on a rectangular block."

"You seem pretty sure of yourself", Aris challenged.

Damini almost expected to see something more magical, the way Aris kept on with his questions. She strained to look again. They were quite far away from the cliff but she was pretty sure that besides a greater clarity in the position of nooks and crags in the face of the cliff that would become obvious as they got closer to the rock, there was little else that was in that cliff. The old turtle did not respond to Damini's assertion.

As they swam closer, Damini noticed that the cliff was not one rock but two large rocks with a narrow crevice between them. The top was not a simple hemisphere. It was more jagged. The cliff on the left of the crevice tapered into a point. The cliff on the right of the crevice had a flat, sharp face along the crevice wall where there was little wind erosion. On the other side, where the wind had done its job, it was rounded. The two cliffs together looked like a dome. So it was not as uninteresting as she thought at first - however, two rocks with a crevice between them as hardly interesting.

As they came closer, Aris changed directions. Instead of swimming at the cliff, he took a course that would make them pass the cliff on their right. As they made further headway in that direction, Damini noticed that the cliff was not even two pieces of rocks that steeply stood up next to each other, separated by a crevice. The cliffs were actually the ends of a tapering plateau. Further away from the cliff, the plateau gently sloped downwards to the sea.

As Aris further went around this strange out cropping from the sea, it stopped being rocky but was covered with lush green grass and thick vegetation along the gently sloping surface. The cliff was not just a barren rocky outcrop. It had one side that was green and was home to a fertile ecology.

Even as Aris turned further, the slope became less gently and more ragged. The green carpet of vegetation became clumps of grass before giving way to a sandy beach from which a gentle slope of gravel rose up and then became a steeper, more ragged, rocky slope.

On further going around the cliff, Damini saw a cave open into the waters. The green, blue water intruded into the depths of the cave. It was mysterious. She could see a number of fish darting in and out of the cave. The sunlight played strange games in the cave.

And then on turning further, one saw the crevice splitting the two cliffs again. This time, however, they were close enough to see vegetation hanging on along the walls of the crevice - a short shrub here and some clumps of grass there.

"The Cliff of Truth", Damini muttered.

Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty


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