Friday, July 25, 2008


We gave our all, we ran the good race. Tirelessly though aching in body and mind, set-jaw determined though we knew not what would come next, hoping in the face of brutal adversity. We were chased, spat at, stoned, flogged, threatened, cursed, jailed, assaulted, shouted down and, sometimes, ignored. Some listened, and some heard.

Often, at campfires alone, we’d talk of old lives, lives never ever to return to, even if given the opportunity. The power, the deference, the respect and the money, all is gone, and gone forever, simply because of what we saw and heard and what came to us.

We were not popular; we did not say what they wanted to hear. But to some – that was exactly what they needed to hear. We spoke in the temples, in hovels and huts, in caves and crypts, on salt-sprayed ships and on dusty trails, even, on one or two occasions, in the palaces. We spoke to kings and queens, governors, autarchs, satraps, scribes and merchants in the midst of counting caravans, blacksmiths and soldiers, farmers and fishermen, old widows counting coins and young boys playing with wooden swords. We spoke to whoever had ears; whether they heard us or not was not, ultimately, our burden.

Once, we lost a companion, a good man, who lost his faith. Several times, men died in our presence, and once, a man was brought back to life. We were awed, amazed, astounded, privileged, uncomprehending, misunderstanding, fearful and bold, at times, courageous and complete cowards at others, but one thing we did that was required of us: we persevered.

We shed tears and laughed and slapped men heartily on their shoulders. We plowed fields, hauled cargo off the docks, inspected metal-works, plumbed archways and the plotted the celestial dome with the learned ones. We argued wisdom with the Greeks, ground herbs with the doctors, swam the salt-waters with sailors. We mended nets, thatched roofs, tarred hulls and cooked for armies of mercenaries. All things to all men, it is said, and we were.

Thrice we circumnavigated the world, losing companions yet gaining legions. We knew not where the next sunrise would take us; indeed, we knew nothing of when the journey would end. In the rough chop of the wintry sea our ship went down, but that was not to be the end of us. We washed ashore, and converted the men who tended our broken bodies.

We saw signs and wonders seen by none before or since; worked wonders that none of us would have thought possible. The highest heights and the lowest depths of men were revealed to us. We ourselves – our thoughts, our speech, our deeds – often delved those depths, as often as we soared loftily. But we focused on the goal, and held it, sweetly yet securely, in our minds at all times, but most importantly, in our hearts.

And we wrote. And wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

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