So then frustrated by the stubborn unattainability of the Gods, Aritra got up from the pyre he had kept burning for these eleven months, and turned back towards the city; the city nestled, far below him, at the foot of the mountains; the city he had left behind almost a year ago; the city sparkling naively superficially; the city blissfully ignorant of higher purposes, sacrifices and life trandescending aims. He looked at all the glitter which he had been so proud and excited to leave behind. He thought of the colours, the people, the spider web of human love and hate, the tastes, the joys, the music, and he thought of Urvashi.
Urvashi, the beautiful. Urvashi the legend. Urvashi, who arrested a man's heart and body on sight, only to set it racing like never before, the next instant, on fire. Urvashi, the great Artist of Love. It was not that her magic had left him unmoved. His blood had raced at her sight, and now at her thought, as much as any other man in the city. But he had been drunk on a greater "high". His mission, his questions, his hunger to know what he had wanted to know, the knowledge of the Gods, the meaning of life, The Secret.
But then, was that really what he had been drunk on? Or was it the "high" of "thinking" he was resisting and the power that wrapt around his self image at the thought?
So in the dark of the night, he climbed down the side of the mountain, slipping the last few steps of the way, and quietly re-entered the town he had left once just before the sun had slipped into the sky. All the while, he cradled his failure in his heart like a treasured first born. Thoughtlessly, he let his feet drift. Just like he had that long ago morning, when he had entered the land at the top of the mountain with the dawn.
And thus it was that he found himself facing Urvashi's door, one hand raised to knock. Then suddenly hesitating, he was about to turn away, when the door opened and she stood there, glorious like the sun at midnight, not saying anything, not smiling, just solemnly waiting for him to come in. Urvashi, who made a Religion out of Love.
--- stuff happens
And then suddenly he awoke, as if from deep daze, a spell cast from outside him. Though in reality, everything that had ever come over him, had been born inside him, in the heart of his mind. In the middle of merging again into her, and into the sea of common humanity that it would represent, he awoke. As if recharged by these few hours of 'sleep', of this break from the relentless Hunger for Something Higher that had driven him - through sleep and wakefulness - for so long now, something like the old zeal slipped into his tired heart again.
At the foot of the hills, he paused one last time and turned back to look at the city. This he had not dared to do the first time he had left it (Though he had told himself he had not cared). Through the darkness he could feel deserted Urvashi at the window, and feel her eyes following his path. And even now, she had no words, no questions. No accusations ever rose in those eyes, because life had never rained enough on that soil to birth expectations. A new sorrow, more sublime, but more lasting, rose in and filled his heart, and he felt this sorrow that he felt for her was like a invisible thread of silver that stretched out in the darkness and tied him to her, a bond stronger than any earthly 'love', whatever that might be. He sighed one last time, and then picked up his burdens and started to climb back up hill.
The dying embers, that he had kicked at in a rage of frustration earlier, looked ghostly in the fake lightening of the sky that comes even before the sun. His heart jumped and wrenched at the sight of it, he did'nt know why. All his hunger, did not come rushing back at once, but ran to the gates of his heart, and stopped there, shy, awaiting his permission to take the last step in. Once more, he felt that whatever his doubts, however high the tuiton, and however heavy the burden of the shame of failure, he would never feel this way for anything in The City. He did not yet know the nature of the feeling, but he knew that the intensity of this feeling, would never rival that other, and that he could never turn his face from it again, and live in peace forever.
For a moment he was caught up with wondering half fearfully, if the Gods had been un-appeasably offended by his anger. Then caught by a glimmer of