"My God, it's true," was all
D'Aqs could say.
The gravestone sculpture of
the head of Jesus stood about three feet high with the moustache reaching
almost a foot in length. It flowed right into the earth. To D'Aqs, the
sculpture depicted what he thought a Druid would look like. But of all images
of Christ, this one in front of him must be considered one of the only real
representations of the man history knew as Jesus Christ.
"And He reached the ripe old
age of his mid eighties and spent the last years of His life with His identical
twin brother in such a beautiful land," D'Aqs whispered.
There was a third stone
right beside the stone face of Jesus, but it was only a flat area with nothing
on it. Looking at it, Hellmantle couldn't figure out what it was. Considering
Jesus was regarded as a prophet and messenger of God, just as Mohammad was for
Islam, the Muslims prayed facing the East when they prayed at Jesus' tomb. The
small canopy that covered the aboveground coffins and stones was draped over
with a purple fabric rich in hue, which had the first three points written out
in Arabic. Hellmantle copied the Arabic down best to his ability into his
Drawn back to the face of
Jesus, he crouched beside it, looking deeply into the weathered eyes that stuck
out only enough to discern the top part of His eyebrows. The stone depiction of
His face showed contentment common to wisdom and inner knowledge. Where His
forehead met His hair, there was a little triangle that looks like a mini
temple. The way the stone had been cut made the bearded archetype stand out in
its own innate power. The cheekbones on the front of His face and His
triangular shaped middle part in His hair gave Him a distinct angular form.
Feeling a bit wobbly-legged,
they both eventually left the tomb and, with Ramazon, walked stunned through
the old streets of Srinagar. Looking back over his shoulder, Hellmantle
stopped, lights a smoke and said:
"It looks like this small
cement building was built specifically to protect and preserve these three
stone markers. It housed Jesus' and Thomas' bones. It is strange that the
relics of two great men who have had such a profound impact on the development
of the Western thought would be here under this modest roof somewhere Northwest
India. How many people walking down the street are aware of the remains of two
fathers of a major new movement within the tradition of the Old Testament
cannon and religious history as a whole. How can anyone tell what lies inside
these in-descript walls?"
"People in Kashmir believe
Jesus flies around in the air," said Ramazon. "So if this is true then He has
already found me. And He had got inside me. He is in my heart and mind."
"And spirit." Hellmantle
nodded at his trusted guide as they mounted their bicycles and rode away from
the tombs of Jesus and Thomas.
Ramazon led them to the
local market and to an old mosque built over 1100 years ago, but Hellmantle's
thoughts were on that face with the hollow cheeks and huge curving moustache
and the triangular head. A power emitted from the sculpture and its magic still
hungs in the air around him and in his mind's eye.
"The Kashmir apple tastes
like a candy apple," Hellmantle said at the market, "And if India is a bouquet,
then Kashmir is a rose in it."
bought a sweater in the local market, but Hellmantle was despondent. He finally
"The two brothers chose to
live where Alexander the Great chose to turn around and end his campaign in the
East. Only by seeing this place can that have meaning. Truly amazing the twins
were together at death and entry into the afterlife."
After the bike ride back to
the houseboat, the cousins both flaked out on the deck, smoked pipes and
thought of the face of Jesus.
"Has Ramazon figured out
what the Arabic says on the stone yet?" Hellmantle impatient for answers.
"Abid should know."
"I'm only schooled to use
the Atbash Cipher. I don't know this Arabic. If we find scrolls I should
be able to apply the cipher to breaking the code on the titles of each scroll."
D'Aqs doubted Hellmantle's claim but said nothing. If the need arose then he
could show his specialized knowledge.
Abid arrived with his geiger
and they settled down in the smoking room.
"The Arabic on the stone
says ‘Monastery of the Fish,'" he said flatly.
stood up and walked to the mantelpiece.
Are you sure it says that?" D'Aqs disappointed.
must know where that comes from," Hellmantle incredulous.
From what He said about teaching a man how to fish is better than giving a man
a fish?" Hellmantle thought D'Aqs had become physically robust at the coat of
symbol of the early Christians was not a cross; it was a fish."
Yes, I think I knew that."
"Where is it?"
"It is north of here," said
Abid. "I asked a friend who knows these things. The Monastery of the Holy Light
is maybe two days along the Line of Control."
days!" Hellmantle opened his maps that showed in detail the grade of the
terrain along the disputed border with Pakistan.
"How do we get there to the
Monastery of Holy Light?" asked D'Aqs.
"Horseback! Of course! Good
call." Hellmantle chipper.
"I know where to get a
horse. It's an old pilgrims trail. It is very old," said Abid.
can put it on the bill?" Hellmantle asked. He nodded in agreement.
take you. I get my brother to run this place."
we can leave in the morning."