boy in traditional mask

Out of the Cave, Came the Hermit

Ossas was sitting on top of the Untow mountain looking at the stream of the river. And the women cleaning the pelts were grabbing his attention. A hand with furry cuff fell on Ossas’s shoulder, but he didn’t turn like he knew who it was. “Hunting’s done?” he asked the visitor. “Your fantasising is done?” the visitor asked and laughed as Ossas punched him in the belly. “So, the hunting is not done?” Ossas asked him again. “The dogs are dying, Ossas. Our tribe is at its decline. Men like fucking more than hunting these days” he answered. “I know that you are referring to me, Oruku. But it is not because of women that I am not interested in hunting. I like to sit here, look at the river, get lost in thoughts and be distracted by women. This is what I want” Ossas replied. “You are not a child, Ossas. A child help women clean our pelts and cook at least. But you, you desire to do nothing. You are lazy, my friend” Oruku grabbed his shoulder tightly.

“The word is that leader has already observed you being lazy, and he might lecture you” Oruku stood up. “Father sent you, didn’t he? I have aged 100 seasons by this winter. So he wants me to man up and start hunting boars?” Ossas yelled. He looked around and found his father, the tribe leader peeping at them from behind a tree. Ossas feared that he is going to get bashed by his father. But still, he went home and found his father waiting at the entrance of their cave. “You are going to bash me?” Ossas said monotonously, “Is that it leader?” he said as his father gestured to loosen the pelt on the shoulder. Ossas opened the thread that tied the hide he was wearing, and he stood bareback. Uldun was holding a branch of a tree. He swung it and bashed Ossas till his back bled.

Indik rushed from inside and stopped her father. “He is a disgrace to me!” Uldun yelled. “His friend passed all the requirements and might even challenge me to a battle to overthrow me. But my son, who is supposed to be my heir lurks around the river looking at women. You are going to rot in wooden huts, Indika! All 7 of your sisters are going to rot out there while I will be beaten to death. And those men will be on you enjoying your flesh because your brother is an incompetent piece of junk who is not fit to lead” Uldun yelled and left the cave to go drink some palm wine.

That was the last time Ossas saw his tribe and his family. The very night his father bashed him, he ran away to the wild. He went towards the city that his fellow tribe feared. He believed that he is superior in thought from the other tribesmen and the city is the place where he belongs. Ossas walked for 27 days, and he finally saw a horse going. He was shocked to see a man riding a horse, and he ran down the hill and yelled at the man. The Horseman stopped and looked at Ossas with utter disgust. He pulled his sword as Ossas neared him. “No harm” Ossas said. “How is that you hillbilly are talking in our language?” the Horseman asked curiously. “We have separated with Kataki tribe 255 seasons ago. Do you belong to the Kataki tribe?” Ossas asked curiously. Horseman burst out to laughter. “It is Kataki kingdom now, son. We are not a tribe anymore. We conquer the seas and land now” Horseman said proudly. “What is a kingdom?” Ossas asked. “Say, where are you headed to?” Horseman asked, and Ossas said, “City, I was banished from my tribe, and I want to go somewhere I belong”. Horseman laughed and said “You can accompany me, I need protection too” Horseman said. “See, I trade pelt, swords and medicines to travellers, but sometimes I get attacked by outlaws and thieves. You are a muscular man and from a savage tribe. I want you to protect me till we reach the city” he continued. “I’m afraid, sir. I can’t even hurt a wasp!” Ossas cried. “Oh, man! No wonder you were banished. It is okay though, you might be a softie inside, but you look like a brute to me. I was scared enough to take my sword out, so I guess any city folk will be” Horseman laughed. “My name is Hakt. Here hold this sword” he threw the sword and Ossas held it. “My! My! with that pelt and sword, you look straight out of a nightmare, young lad!” Hakt laughed once again.

Both started moving, Hakt on horse and Ossas on feet. After a while, Hakt offered Ossas a pair of shoes, and it took a long time explaining the benefits of shoes and making Ossas wear them. After a camp of night and walk of the morning, they finally saw smoke in the air. Ossas could feel the different smell in the air, and there the trees stopped. Ossas was standing on the edge of the forest and was shocked to see a large rocky structure in front of him. It was gigantic and noisy. He never saw people in those high numbers. He started panicking and shaking, looking at all these people standing in a queue. “Why are they standing in line, Hakt?” Ossas asked. “To enter the kingdom, we have to pass through guards of the kingdom. Don’t worry as long as you are with me, you are safe. Here wear this” Hakt offered some clothes to Ossas. “Do I have to wear these weird full covered clothes? Won’t I get suffocated? Even women in my tribe don’t wear this heavy clothes” Ossas complained. Hakt forced him to wear it finally.

Hakt entered the kingdom with Ossas, and it was beautiful. Hakt took him to his house and said “Wander anywhere, pilgrim. But return here by nightfall” Hakt went in. Ossas started looking at houses of stone, shops and people wearing different clothes. He was attracted to almost every woman. They were wearing different things, and the kids were more cheerful. He saw a kid playing with a miniature sized boat in a wooden bucket of water. Ossas wondered how a kid’s mind constructed something so tiny and floating on water. It took ages for their tribe to build a raft. “What is it, tiny creature?” Ossas asked the kid. “It’s a paperboat,” he said, and Ossas kept repeating it. “Paperboat, paperboat, paperboat” and his jaw dropped when he turned around. There was a massive ship on the bay, and it blew his mind off. He was joyous, and he saw a woman signalling him towards her. He couldn’t control his desires and went close to her. “Do you want my babies, lady?” Ossas asked. “What the fuck? No! Do you want my hidden treasures?” she asked. “Does the treasure have radish?” Ossas asked, and the woman felt embarrassed. “I’m asking if you want to have sex with me, you moron!” she explained herself embarrassingly. “But you said you did not want my babies. What is the purpose then?” Ossas asked curiously, and the women had enough. She started to turn back and started finding a new customer. Ossas was seduced and couldn’t let her go. “Okay, fun fun. Let’s do it!” Ossas demanded her. She smiled and came back, opening her palms “Coins first” she said. “What coins?” Ossas asked. The woman was in total disbelief. She pushed him away and went to other people avoiding his repeated calls. Disappointed Ossas returned to Hakt’s hut.

Hakt was sitting outside, smoking tobacco. “Why are you so sad?” Hakt asked, noticing Ossas dull. “I got rejected for sex” Ossas said with a long face. “You should have gone to the prostitute that stay three blocks away” Hakt advised. “Three houses away? She is the one who seduced me and then asked about some coins. She didn’t even reveal what her hidden treasure was” Ossas replied. Hakt choked on smoke with laughter, and his face got red. “You idiot! The hidden treasure is a metaphor *cough* *cough* Here, take these coins” Hakt handed few coins. “I had to pay you for escorting me somehow” he explained. “What should I do with metal this small? I can’t even use it as weapons!” Ossas moaned. “Oh, man! You don’t know the concept of the capital!” Hakt sighed. “Capital?” Ossas asked. “Look here, these little metal coins have some value. There are different metal coins, bronze, copper, iron, gold and silver. Each has a different value. We, the workers and traders, rarely get in contact with silver and gold coins. We buy things using these coins. We sell things for these coins.” Hakt explained. “But how can few dumb iron coins value the flesh of a woman?” Ossas asked, and Hakt sealed his lips in confusion. “Her name is Chalis, and there are women like Chalis who sleep with people for these coins. It is an easy way out” Hakt tried to explain. “So, Can I earn coins by sleeping with people too?” Ossas asked curiously. “You are a man!” Hakt sighed. “Men don’t sell their bodies. Because no one wants to buy them!” Hakt explained. “Women here don’t like sex?” Ossas asked doubtfully. “They do, but they don’t need to buy a man. Men are plentiful and always horny around here. When something is very much available, no one will like to purchase it.” Hakt explained and tried to shut Ossas off when he was about to ask another question. “Enough questions for one day, Ossas. Either sleep here, in front of the door; I have arranged you some blankets. Or take these coins and spend the night with Chalis.” Hakt said. “I will go to Chalis, thank you” Ossas took the coins and rushed to Chalis’s hut.

Due to the non-stop flow, author has realised that this might not end soon. It was a spontaneous decision to take this up to many parts! Feedback is awaited, wait for the second part is expected!

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Manoj Sri Harsha

A filmmaker who's also a philosopher and I have always been a writer. My urge to tell stories have provoked and boosted me to write my thoughts out as words, sentences and essays! I treat storytelling objectively and would always try new things to tell any story in a different way. Big fan of the Avant-garde!

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