Something from Gert world:
When they came into the meditation room Gandharva was already sitting on the dais,
his eyes closed and his hands on his thighs as always. But at each knee sat a small drum
covered in a ragged piece of skin, with strange symbols engraved on the sides.
They sat in silence until Gandharva summoned them, not with the usual tinkle of bells,
but with a soft drumming like a heart beat on his two little drums.
‘Amani,’ he said, instead of his usual “Shanti.” ‘Amani. Salahu.’
‘Amani. Salahu,’ they echoed, a little uncertainly.
‘Friends,’ said Gandharva, ‘my body has spoken to me in the past few days. It says it
has been asleep too long. It says, join in the dance of life.’
He rose to his feet and stepped down from the dais. His hands out at his sides, he
began to swoop around the room, sliding his bare feet along the wooden floor and rising
every now and then to tiptoes. Around the room he went, his eyes half-closed.
‘Join me, friends,’ he said, ‘let the body speak as it wills. Let it stride, leap, creep,
stamp, as it wills. Let it speak you, you and only you.’
One by one, all but Sylvia, they got to their feet. Larnhi began to slide her feet along
the floor, copying Gandharva, her hands held out at her sides, frowning with
concentration. Alex broke into a sort of cha cha, forward and back with her fingers
clicking. Freddie thought, stamp, yes, that’s what I feel like doing, and went stamping
round the room, moving her arms back and forth like a power-walker. Eric stood for a
minute in an agony of embarrassment then began to walk stiffly round the room, his
hands at his sides.
‘Sylvia,’ said Gandharva, still swooping, ‘join the dance of life.’
‘I don’t think I will, thank you,’ said Sylvia, speaking louder than necessary as if to
recall the others to their senses. Nobody took any notice. She stood up and clapped her
hands. ‘That’ll do,’ she called, ‘just go back to your places, please.’ But it was as if she
hadn’t spoken at all. It was as if they were all hypnotised. She could feel the dark forces
in the room pulling them round the room with their eyes half-shut. Gandharva stepped
back on to the dais and sat down again, beating his drum in a soft heartbeat, swaying, his
eyes closed. It broke her heart to see him in the demonic thrall.
She would not abandon him. She would sing one of her fine old hymns to drive Satan
Sing my tongue, the glorious battle,
Sing the ending of the fray
she began, her voice wavering at first and then gaining strength.
A shadow fell across the sunny floor and she saw Pourgues in the doorway. He was
carrying a blue plastic bowl like the one she used for cleaning potatoes. Larnhi, Freddie
and Alex, absorbed in their dance, did not see him as he walked across the floor and
stepped on to the dais, holding his bowl carefully, but Eric stopped, his mouth falling
open and his eyebrows raised in astonishment. Pourgues approached Gandharva, who
was rapt in his drumming, and then he upended the blue bowl over his head. It fitted
snugly so that only Gandharva’s chin could be seen. Down the chin and white-clad
shoulders flowed a thick brown stream of something Eric recognized as lentil soup.
Pourgues smiled. Lightly, like the sprite he was, he left the room.
Image: Nick Kenrick www/flickr/com.photos