CRAWFOAX - by Tanushri Wahi
There was once in the land of Crawfoax, a mother. She was Bao - a sheep. She was made of gas vapor. She smelt like lemon and ate chillies and cinnamon from the bushes she had created. Yes, she had the power to create. She was the ‘master’, the maid, the citizen, the destroyer, the controller- she was everything. She was the kingdom and the kingdom was her.
She was endowed with the gift to create the 'human'. She had had this dream 100 years back when she was trying to grow gas vapor on herself. She had never forgotten it since then. She was not aware of this power in her. But she believed that she should give it a try. But, how? What is ‘human’? She had never heard of this thing before. Is it a plant? An insect? A tree? A sea creature? Who and what is it?
Far-far away from all this, there was a certain someone called Roop. He belonged to the Chinini species of the sea. The bodies of the Chinini were basically organic in form resembling lichen in the day and Star-fishat night. They were neither harmful nor harmless. This unique weakness was compensated for by Roop’s extraordinary ability to eat his own body and instantly vomit it out to construct another new being.
These were the only two movable creations existing in Crawfoax at that point
in time. But they were quite oblivious to each other’s existence. Roop
thought that he was the only creature and Bao thought she was the sole resident in this world.
In order to create the world’s greatest creation, the 'human', they had to unite. Only with his unique ability and her chemical ingredients could they give rise to this new creation.
Just as Roop was struggling to struggle (because everything came so easy to
him) he heard this rumble in his stomach. It lasted a moment. He ignored it.
He let it be, just like it happened everyday and he was habituated to it. After a few hours the rumble started again but this time with greater strength and
force. He sat, thinking that it would settle down. But it just got worse. After a point, he could not stop his mouth from opening up. He resisted but the force of the mass within him overcame his resistance.
As he opened his mouth, a mass filled with gas vapor began to appear. Finally, the entire body mass came out. It was Bao - the sheep! Roop was astounded. He was speechless. He couldn’t believe the course of events.
The sheep had been translocated.
Neither Roop nor Bao could believe they were looking at another moving creature. They came closer to each other to grab a closer look. Something was pulling them together- a force, a energy they could not comprehend.
They tried pushing each other away in disgust but something uncontrollable
was happening. They struggled with each other, pushing their bodies as far apart as they could. But the more they struggled to widen the gap between them, their bodies grew nearer and nearer. Finally, they merged with one another and thus they became - One.
One life form.
Suddenly they pushed each other apart and then they were
Man and Woman.
Roop and Bao.
They stood there, blankly staring at each other, trying to understand how
they had come about. Then they stared afresh at their surroundings. They walked around curiously feeling, smelling, touching everything that came their way. The dense white clumps of air floating around, the bear branches of trees and the circular rings of mountain masses which strangely stood upright. This magnificent feature was the most significant out of what they could see.
These huge brown rings appeared like doorways leading to another space (as
of now). The lemony smelling air had formed a layer above the ground, as a
consequence of which only their upper body was visible.
Roop and Bao tried catching the air around them, in the process discovering
that their fingers could move, They were extremely fascinated by this phenomenon. It made them happy.
Bao and Roop looked at each other and smiled.
She then picked up a clump of air. Playfully she turned it into a form which resembled Roop. He was touched by this sensitive gesture. She then blew it out into the open space above them.
Effortlessly, the clump rose up, higher and higher, buoyant in its movement. It seemed as though there was some sort of an invisible force that carried it. Where was it going? They wondered, looking at each other quizzically. They were completely awestruck at the sequence of events that followed.
Bao and Roop followed it.
Their innocent eyes were watching and inquiring every move of this unexplainable little thing. They started running with it and its every miniscule move lit up their faces. As they went along, it became lighter and lighter - slowly dissipating into the surrounding space. But something extremely unusual was happening as it vanished progressively - the sky, the environment, the trees, mountains, water, everything was turning into color. Moreover, the realm of air became weightless, and started to rise up closer to the blue sky. Seeing this, they held their hands up towards the sky as if they were surrendering themselves to this power.
The heavy voice of a man spoke, “Welcome, Earthlings!”
They looked up into the sky wondering where the voice was coming from. Whose voice was it and what was it saying? Roop started grinning because he found this sound funny. Soon this grin turned into a silent giggle and then into a loud laughter. Bao too giggled along with him, but somehow fear settled in her. She half-heartedly pretended to laugh just to give Roop company.
All of a sudden, a box fell, “Thud!” It was as big as Bao’s feet. Her feet were short and chubby. To top it all up, she had a small mole on one foot with a single white hair popping out of its centre. She thought it to be the most beautiful piece of occurrence she had ever seen. Every time she looked at it, her face would innocently light up. Bao truly admired and respected her feet for the simple fact that they allowed her to dance. Dancing gave her endless joy.
“Aaaahhh!!”, cried Bao in pain. Roop came out of his state of amusement panicked and came running to Bao. Concerned, he swiftly removed the huge boulder of a box from her foot. It was extremely heavy. He sat and rubbed her injured foot. Overjoyed by all the attention she got from Roop, she wanted the box to fall all over again and this time on both her feet.
After Roop was done, he helped her stand. She walked, she was fine.
Bao and Roop went close to the box. It was carefully wrapped in a black cloth. They had never seen anything like it before. They were deeply intrigued by this mysterious black box. Warily, Roop touched the box, slightly tapping it at first and then holding its cloth in his hands.
Bao stood a safe distance away from the box.
Once he was cleared of the doubt that it was perilous, he carefully unpacked it layer by layer. The first layer, then the next, then the one below that one and then finally something came to sight. It had been packed fantastically well. Each layer had been tightly wrapped over the other. It seemed as if it was something extremely precious that was concealed.
Bao and Roop stared at it intently waiting for it to do or say something. After a long time, they came to the conclusion that this package meant no harm to them. They continued opening it further. In it, they found two spherical structures. One was black and the other white. They sat ogling at them. They were considerably large; the white one was larger than the black. Strangely, they were weightless, contrary to the heaviness of the box in which they had been packaged.
Bao, thrilled, picked up the white one. Her face lit up like the ball itself. She held it gently, taking care of it as if it were her baby. She fancied playing with it - throwing it, whirling it, tossing it, rolling it, spinning it.
Seeing Bao play, Roop began to do the same.
Their excitement knew no bounds. They ran playing with the ball laughing, shouting and screaming in their exhilaration. Their happiness consumed the spirit of everything around them. The branches of the trees swayed from side to side just letting themselves go with the assertive wind, the water became calmer, and the mountains were happy being their magnificent selves.
Roop and Bao ecstatically threw the ball up. Bao threw hers up with great strength into the sky. As she did so, the ball rose up speedily and got stuck to the sky. It just hung there like it belonged there.
There was a sudden splash of energy.
Roop, struck by this energy, threw the ball up with even greater might. It ascended upwards with immense velocity and collided with the white ball.
This divine collision gave birth to night and day.
What a fantastic occurrence this was and its consequences were the beautiful trees, shrubs, birds and butterflies.
The white ball surfaced with a convincing softness, it gleamed with mighty brilliance and vibrated with a diffused red glow. This red glow instructed a sexual arousal within Roop.
As they stood looking at this superb ceremony of colours, a voice commanded, “This time bodes well. You both are the carriers of our fate.”
He felt attracted towards Bao and she was drawn to him. They united. Roop tenderly caressed her body and they drifted into a sweet sleep. He locked her inside his arms. They fit into each other like missing puzzle pieces. Bao and Roop felt eternal.
They woke up without worries. This union had done something to Bao. She had grown more calm and at peace from her playful and restless self.
Quite a lot of time passed; Bao began to experience heaviness inside her, a feeling that she was holding something in her womb. This heaviness only grew with time. Her tummy expanded and got bigger and bigger. As this happened, she started becoming more and more immobile. Normal activities became tougher and tougher to do. She started confining herself to one place, largely spending her time sleeping. Whilst sleeping, she would dream. She would dream of beautiful things around her such as the trees, the calm waters, the magnificent mountains. Often she’d dream of Roop and her swollen stomach, as to what was in it. Was it some sort of a ball like the one she had thrown up in the sky? She wondered.
One fine day, she had a vision. She saw a candle; its massive flame flickered like a suffering soul. It moved from side to side as if it were being tortured endlessly and were trying to free itself. It shivered as if it were inflicted with immense fear.
Bao woke up with sweat dripping from her forehead. Drenched, she sat up, gasping for air. She called out for Roop. Alarmed, he dropped all the wood he had collected from the forest and came running to Bao. She was flustered. At once, she began narrating what she had seen. Breathing heavily, she described each and every move and bend of the quivering flame.
Roop sat down; he was absorbed in what Bao was saying. Roop doubted this vision. He paid no heed to it and went on to do his work. He thought this flame tale to be something totally far-fetched and did not believe in its existence. Bao detested this unbelieving nature of Roop. It frustrated her. After all, she could not show him material evidence to prove it. However, she believed in her vision, she believed in the existence of that flame and she set her mind to find it.
Bao disregarded Roop’s reaction to the vision and went about contemplating what had occurred. She still hadn’t recovered from the shock. The blinding radiance of the flame flashed in front of her eyes. Nothing had she seen so bright before. Imagining, reflecting, supposing, assuming, she slithered into slumber.
A huge mass of wax was pouring out of the burning candle. It had enveloped a huge mass of the planet they were living on and it continued to spill out and swathe large expanses of earth. Suddenly a dragonfly flew past Bao’s eye and fell onto the ground. Startled, she woke up.
Days went by. Bao’s tummy got even bigger; Roop came up with a new activity called eating, which came about by putting things in the mouth corresponding to the time of the day. Excited with this creation, he began feeding beautiful flowers to Bao because he thought that if he fed her the flowers, she would become cheerful like them. The kind of flowers they ate depended on the colour of the sky at that point in time. So in the morning, they ate white flowers, in the afternoon they ate yellow ones and at twilight they ate red ones. This was much better than eating the coarse bark of trees and that did not satisfy their hunger. Flowers were tastier.
It was a bright sunny day. Bao had just woken up from deep slumber. The instant she sat up, a swarm of dragonflies surrounded her. They were buzzing all over her, tickling her here and there and everywhere. She innocently giggled and slapped her hands to shoo them off. She blushed.
Roop was extremely happy to see her laugh. He had not seen her this cheerful since the time her belly began swelling up. Roop was grateful to the dragon flies for making Bao laugh. Soon after, while Bao was lying down on the ground, her belly began to hurt. It was as though the dragon flies had woken her up to perform the act of giving birth. This was it. The time had arrived when this engorged belly was to let free what was in it. The pain multiplied. It became unbearable. Bao was screaming in this excruciating pain. Roop and Bao awaited the arrival. They did not know what to expect.
Finally, after a long wait, Bao gave birth to two human beings just like themselves. They were a pair of twins. Bao and Roop were blessed with two beautiful boys. The instant she held them in her arms she knew they were special.
They looked at her and simply broke into an innocent giggle. Two healthy little children brimming with life, unfamiliar to what this planet has in store for them, began to suckle on their mother’s breasts. This stirred up maternal love in Bao’s heart. She had never experienced such love, it was a feeling she had never felt earlier. In her playful and child-like heart there grew unconditional love. Although her children were not the same as her, they resembled their father more than their mother, she felt devoted towards them.
Bao and Roop decided to name both of them. They were Ergaan and Plobaan.
Time slips away; Ergaan and Plobaan grow up to be two well-built, sturdy men. They were brought up by the mountains, the trees and the water. Whatever virtues they had acquired were learnt from these elements in nature. They called themselves ‘the sons of the earth’.
Ergaan was like his mother, happy and innocent at heart but resilient especially when it came to challenges. He was wise and humble. Plobaan, the younger one was arrogant and his strength was equal to 1000 rocks put together. He was extremely self assured and he did what he said. There would be nothing that could ever stop him from turning back. He adored his brother and would do anything for him.
Bao thought her sons have grown up and it is the right time to tell them about her vision.
The very next day, Bao called for Ergaan and Plobaan. They sat under the tree and she said: “Ergaan and Plobaan, I wish to impart a vision. The only condition that I put forth is that you should blindly follow my instructions without questioning me.” Ergaan were perplexed. They had never seen their mother so serious.
“Far-far away from this place, I know not where, lies a burning candle whose wax is spilling over. This wax is soon going to spread over the entire earth and lead to the death of all the creatures living here. The life of all people here depends on you. You have been given the sacred task of saving us from this peril.”
She also told them about the voices from the sky and the black box from which the sun and moon were created.
Hearing this, Ergaan and Plobaan, equipped themselves with the necessary materials they would need for a long journey and they set out on their mission to find the burning candle. They took blessings from the mountains, the tree and the lake and began their journey.
The mountain that had taught them the great virtues of truth and patience created a chasm in itself and gave way to the ‘sons of the earth’. Ergaan and Plobaan walked through.
They came to a whole new world. The forest was thick and impenetrable.
“This is where our examination begins, brother”, said Plobaan with an air of defiance. “Plobaan, look, there is the burning candle,” said Ergaan pointing at the opaque viscous flame in the distance. It was so gigantic that it was the only source of light for this side of the world. Ergaan and Plobaan determined to reach that flame began trudging towards it.
They cleared their path, chopping and slashing down the branches and shrubs that blocked their way. As they made their way, they observed that the leaves had a strange white amorphous coating on it. The leaves were stuck to each other. Cutting through the foliage became a challenge.
Plobaan with his undying spirit hacked his way through. Not even once did he step back in submission. He said, “Our mother has sent us for a task and it shall be done, come what may” Ergaan agreed.
As they got deeper into the forest, the white amorphous material on the leaves became thicker and thicker. They came into a space where it was open land. They decided they should rest there under a tree which had completely lost the form of a tree and looked like a white blob on top of a stick.
As soon as Plobaan lay down, he drifted into deep slumber. Ergaan lay down; he noticed a little flying creature peeping out from above. It was black, with two big green eyes, its body was the shape of an infant, its head resembled a bat, and it had chicken feet. It looked rather strange to Ergaan; he had never seen something like it before. Its wings were the most striking feature of its body. They were transparent and had a silver sheen on the surface. So when the creature fluttered its wings, it looked like lightning.
It flew passed Ergaan, right under his face. The creature then became stationary, and said, “Welcome to my territory, Earthlings! You belong to Crawfoax, the great sons of the earth.” Ergaan was astonished at the weightiness of the voice of this tiny creature. “I am called the king of Utshus, I govern this space. I have been awaiting your arrival for ages and you have finally come to save us”.
Ergaan looked puzzled. “My army lingers to welcome you in my cave in Yajnahan. There we shall talk. Your mighty brother lies asleep, I shall carry him, and his sleep shall remain undisturbed.” Utshu levitated his brother, creating a cozy field around him; he carried him on his back. Ergaan was astounded at this. Utshu guided Ergaan to his cave in Yajnahan. His arrival there was graced by a hundred other Utshus.
Ergaan approached the cave. He heard the sounds of these creatures howrling and it became louder as he came close to it. He entered the cave. It was filled with Utshus of all sizes, hanging from the cave wall. Their wings illuminated the cave with white light. They were crying in desperate help. The moment he came in, they all flew up and began flapping around his shoulder.
Then the king of the Utshus spoke, “We, the Utshus, the nocturnal creatures of Yajnahan, have awaited your arrival for 99 years. You have finally blessed us with your presence. You are the only ones who can rescue us from the burning candle and its brilliance. Our world was dark and beautiful until Kuroop, the Utshu, became evil because the spirit of a sheep arose from Crawfoax and dissolved into him. The gas that it contained allowed him to produce wax and feed on it to survive. From then on, the wax eater has been nibbling away and creating wax to make this candle. The light from the candle has killed all our families, friends and relatives. All that remains are the hundred that you see in this cave. What we need is to put an end to Kuroop and his evil conception of the candle.”
“Kuroop is awfully powerful. He possesses magical powers; he replicates creatures like himself simply by vomiting them out. These Roopankars have outnumbered us and will soon take over Yajnahan once the wax spills over and covers the entire world,” said another Utshu.
Ergaan felt trapped. He did not know how to help the Utshus especially because they relied entirely on him and Plobaan. Distressed, he woke Plobaan up. Ergaan and Plobaan were eager to help the Utshus. They decided they would go and fight Kuroop and his army of Roopankars.
Ergaan, Plobaan and the entire clan of Utshus stomped their way through the dense forests across large expanses of land. They came closer and closer to the source of the wax that kept clinging to their feet. Their entire army halted just before the plains of wax terrain. “This layer of wax has been freshly spilt, thus it is unfit for us to set foot in it. We need to wait until this solidifies.” The army stopped, waited. The Utshus hid behind the brothers and under their garb, the brightness of the flame was draining them of all their energy.
When the time came, the Utshus said, “Let us march ahead.” “Go right ahead, you mighty souls.” Plobaan said encouragingly. As they came closer and closer to the centre, the Utshus began to shrink. They could not handle the heat and light Their army decided that they should return to Yajnahan lest they perish. The Utshus took their leave and flew back to Yajnahan.
Ergaan and Plobaan fearlessly went on. They trod their way up the wax mountain, over molten clumps of wax. Now they were only a small distance away from the candle. They saw Kuroop and his army nibbling on wax. They were half the size of Ergaan and Plobaan, sturdy and muscular, these beings.
Ergaan and Plobaan took out their weapons., got ready. Just as they did so, one of the Roopankars heard them and alerted the rest. “Who dares to enter our territory?” said Kuroop. “It is us, the sons of the earth” Ergaan shouted. “And we have come to slaughter you!” shouted Plobaan. He ran straight and fast right at Kuroop and stabbed him.
“Muhaahahah,” Kuroop laughed wickedly.= “Nobody has the power to kill me, my friend, because I create myself every time some one destroys me.” Kuroop vomits himself out thus replacing his wounded self and replicating himself. His army then attacked Ergaan and Plobaan.
The brothers fought but they knew they were losing the battle.
Meanwhile, Bao fell ill. She had a strange fever which could be fatal if she was not cured. Roop felt helpless, he knew not what had come upon her. He was deeply worried. All day long, he would sit next to her and nurse her hoping that she would get better. Then one day, while she was asleep, pathetic and weak, she uttered something. Roop carefully listened to what she was saying.
“Wax….belly…heal me…my sons!”
He did know what that meant. It did not make sense to him. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a dragonfly fell on Roop’s lap. Unable to share his misery with anyone, he told the dragonfly what had come to be and that he did not know what Bao spoke of. The moment the dragonfly heard this, alarmed, she transformed herself into one of the Utshus. She rushed across the chasm in the mountain, below the foliage, fighting the tricky amorphous wax, and went straight to the king of Utshus. Panting, she told him Bao’s sorrowful story and the words she had uttered –“Wax, belly, heal me, my sons!.”
The king knew what this meant. He hurriedly dispatched an Utshu to give this piece of information to Ergaan and Plobaan. After flying miles, the Utshu reached the bottom of the wax mountain. He began to feel hot; he thought he would not be able to survive the heat. He wanted to do all he could to save Bao from dying. The goodness in this thought gave him the strength to bear the heat.
When he reached the top of the mountain, he saw Ergaan and Plobaan stuck in the molten wax, entrapped. He quickly went and freed their hands. Once this was done, they rapidly helped each other to free their bodies from the wax. The Utshu gave them the information of Bao dying and the words she had uttered and instantly he flew back as the heat was getting unbearable.
Ergaan, the wiser of the two, put two and two together and said, “Plobaan, I have got it! The secret lies in Kuroop’s belly. We need what is in it to take back to heal our mother’s illness. Quick!!!” Ergaan and Plobaan swiftly made their way through the slippery wax.
Kuroop was not expecting them. Ergaan and Plobaan again fought his army valiantly. Every time they killed a Roopankar, it would appear again. They had to fight this army first and then get to Kuroop who was well protected inside the wax walls he had built around himself. Ergaan and Plobaan boldly fought the Roopankars, edging their way to Kuroop. Then when they reached him, Kuroop put up a tough fight. Ergaan attacked him from behind. When he turned to face Ergaan, Plobaan sliced open his belly with a well aimed sword stroke.
The flame had vanished. It had been put out for life.
Kuroop held his belly and fell to the ground, lifeless.
Ergaan and Plobaan gathered all the wax from his belly and ran all the way back to Yajnahan. They entered the cave and saw that all the Utshus had turned into fairies. They fluttered around, in exhilaration. They had been freed from the evil spirit which had captured them in this darkness.
Now Ergaan and Plobaan ran back across the mountains, the forests, and through the chasm of the magnificent mountain. They hurriedly made Bao eat the wax. Bao regained consciousness. She came back to her senses. “My soul has been relieved off all its sins,” She said.
“Bao, another land beseeches us to relieve them of the darkness with the help of Ergaan and Plobaan,” said Roop. He felt it coming up inside his stomach. His stomach made noises as it began to churn. Bao and her sons now entered Roop’s mouth. He swallowed Bao, Ergaan and Plobaan and then the entire world. Roop fluttered across darkness. He vanishes, disappears in space.