Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirty-three


 

The Son of Light

۞

All the passengers were asleep when he returned to his car except the man he saw smoking a cigarette between the cars before. This second time seeing him was enough for Thomas to recognize him: it was the General's deputy. He was the only one awake.

He found his seat just as the express train was making one of its few stops. Since he was one of the few passengers still awake and had his window open, a little boy approached him asking him what he wanted. Bypassing the language issue, Thomas waved his one-nutted betel nut baggie at him. This set the boy off in a crisp sprint to grab a fresh baggie. Other vendors were at the far end of the train looking for open windows, but after a minute the young chap returned in the same sprint with a baggie of betel nut with half the town following him. They all jockeyed for position in front of his window asking him what he wanted.

Suddenly feeling like a prince, Thomas paid the boy more than the going rate for the baggie since the kid had earned it with good service. He was in a generous mood after the mead hall on wheels so when the kid presented a second baggie he bought that too. As any prophecy seeker at the end of his journey could tell you, one can never have too many treats during a long journey in a foreign land. Thomas lifted up his last can of Myanmar Lager to the eager faces and flashed three fingers. Another youngster sprinted away, returning a minute later with three frosty cold ones, which he purchased with much theatrical flourish.

At this point, with the entire car as quiet as a library, the twenty-strong crowd began shouting as they jostled hard for position to peddle their wares.

"Chicken?"

"No."

"Coca cola?"

"No."

"Banana?"

"No."

"Smoke?"

"Yes!" Just as this kid was running for more smokes, another ankle-biter arrived with four more cold cans of beer. He already had his three brown pops but he felt a duty to reward the little bugger for his industry and prompt service, so he paid the price he asked for, giving him an exaggerated look of disbelief upon hearing the jacked-up price. In no time his leg space had become cramped with goodies, but as soon as the smokes arrived and were paid for, he tried to keep the momentum by handing out free smokes to whoever wanted one despite their young age.

It was the power of the dollar to hungry kids that caused it all.

Timid English began to surface in awkward eruptions and indecipherable accents, but he was able to field some questions, keeping his voice down in consideration for his fellow passengers, most of whom were now pretending to be asleep.

"I have," he said to a kid holding up a pack of cheroots, his newest addition to his den of vice. The cheroot was a special kind of smoke. Part tobacco and part herb, it was a light, flavorful bouquet whether massaged slowly or assertively consumed.

"I'm okay," he said to a kid holding up a can of coke for the tenth time. But soon simple replies weren't enough to quell the raucous, so that personal questions from the group come forward.

"What is your name?" someone asked.

"The Son of Light," he replied spontaneously.

"What country?"

"Canada." That was an answer that always generated positive ripples. One chap was so excited at this exchange that he gave me a cheroot. In kind Thomas responded by offering him a betel nut in spite of the fact he was too young to be partaking in any narcotic activity.

There was another chap who was so taken by it all that he took off his silver ring and offered it to me for his two silver rings. Of course he had to decline since his ring was too small and Thomas's too valuable, so he settled for a handshake just as the train began to pull away. No one stirred in his coach as the train picked up speed, but he knew that most of his fellow passengers had heard the farang interacting with the locals.

Rolling south to Rangoon with Thomas sampling the purchased goods, he reflected on his novel experiences in a new world far different than the one he knew. Looking at the treats by his feet, he thought if these sins of betel nut and beer were bright stains in the saint's moral code, then let them scream to the heavens but leave me alone! The Dionysian force he felt was the ecstatic participation in divine life-fulfillment, a reminder that he chose to live rather than to watch. He drank the overflowing cup of light feeling the loneliness it brought when night fell, the wind messing his dust-soaked hair, the spirit of Dionysus danced with silent feet trodding over gentle sounds of change as he fell asleep to the lullaby swaying of the iron snake.  

 
 
 
 
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Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
 
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
 
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  
         
 
 
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