His lips trembled and his body shook with his prayers as he allowed himself to drink deep of the dark poison and travel ten years ago. He slipped through the tunnels of time as he shut his terrified eyes off from the swirling black vortex that buffeted him about. The walls of the tunnel opened out onto a great hall, lit dimly. The square was ringed by pillas with lotus-like capitals borne by dwarf vamanaswith twisted faces. White-clothed scores of people sat in the alms-hall, listening intently as the sermon went on, the monks with folding fans held against their chests as they preached.
He felt the thunder of their prayers rumbling through his bones, and the aroma of burning incense stung his nostrils.
The hairs on his forearms stood up as he scanned the crowd.
He saw a boy, hair cut close to his scalp, girlish and beautiful, those same full lips, those same large deep pitch-dark eyes and that same small nose, seated with the other monks atop the decorated mandapa, the white stage on which they sat during the ceremony. The boy’s gaze shifted nervously as he gazed around the hall, slender fingers trying their best to hold onto the cinnamon-colored fan and trying his best to concentrate on the prayers.
Thirteen years alive.
Thirteen years a monk.
This was his first time, the unfathomable darkness behind those innocent eyes becoming greater as he spotted a figure that stuck close to the shadows. He felt hungry eyes boring into him and stalking him through the ceremony, yet he could not be sure if it was merely his imagination or an actual monster from ancient myths was lusting for his blood. The vast pillars cast a hauting gloom over the alms-hall. The vamanas grinned perversely at him as they bore the weight of the pillar capitals on their stunted backs. Mayura Rakshasa, that terribkle deep blue demon whose face hung at the doorway lolled his tongue in a pathetic display of lust and pleasure upon gazing through the young monk’s robe. The rest of the ceremony he spent in fear…then she came to him…when the even deeper blackness of midnight fell over the world that bygone day in the holy month of Poson.
He trailed for a while at the back after visiting the latrine and walked back to the empty hall. He must rejoin the other monks, to avoid the snarling stone faces above him. These guardians of this rich devotee’s house wished for a night with him and terror began to strangle him as he walked towards the door. His tender young body shone through his robe in the bright light of the only lamp that was actually lit in the hall. Her eyes too saw this innocent fawn in her territory as she stalked him from the concealing depths of the shadows.
“Come here boy.”
The voice seemed rather comforting at first but he felt the rasping serpentine edge to it-a knife being drawn across his back. He looked around wildly, searching for his strange new companion as he felt a new form of tension rise up inside him. Such wonderful perfume it was! It swirled over him like a storm from heaven itself, but the eye of the storm was even more beautiful, and it was made of flesh.
Two people that brought out feelings of lust in the hearts of onlookers now faced one another.
The young woman who revealed herself to him was ravishing.
Her body was the most natural he had ever seen. Firm, large breasts and the dark mounts of her nipples swelled with pride beneath her very short blouse, and a heavy gold chain rested on her neck; a ruby pendant sat gleefully at her cleavage. He saw the bright firelight revealing long, muscular legs like a young doe’s through her semi-transparent silken skirts, and rounded hips that could sway to almost any beat of the drum or any twang of a string.
She walked deliberately around him, alowing his eyes to closely follow her light footsteps, graceful and deft as a tigress.
Narrow eyes, made long and sharp by black eyeliner, ran down his body, undressing him effortlessly despite layers of thick saffron cloth.
“Well, boy? Come here, don’t be shy now,” she coaxed him. Her canine teeth were unusually long and sharp-filed down when she was younger, so it seemed. Perhaps then her lipstick was not made of ochre paste but dried human blood…she did lick her lips when she looked at him again.
“Are you alone, little monk?”
He shook his head shyly in agreement. His bones shivered as he waited for the vicioius serpent facing him to strike. He felt her hungry gaze pushing him towards the pillar as she stepped lightly towards him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, so transfixed was he by the beautifully dark kohl eyeliner, the lengthy, lean legs and the heaving of her great breasts which screamed for freedom against her tight blue blouse. At the wall, he cowered immediately as the recognizable voices of two other monks penetrated the hall.
“Where are you?” they asked.
“Do you think he’s alright? He said he wanted to go to the toilet. We should have waited for the poor boy,” replied the other. “I don’t like leaving him alone.”
“Don’t worry, there’s nobody else around here. See?” His shadow gestured around the hall. The dancer and he reluctant lover were bathed in blackness, invisible from the prying eyes of mortals. She kept him silent, her own breath bated as the trill of cicadas and the thunderous booms of frogs filled the garden outside.
“Let’s go. He’ll come, don’t worry. Plus there are many servants around here and the boy is smart enough to ask for directions.”
The first monk, who sounded like the older of the two, took the reluctant younger one by the arm and led him out.
The little monk tried to scream, but his energy had deserted him as her iron grip held his little arm, pushing him over and clapping his mouth shut.
He kicked at her shin and tried to push her away, but all he could feel were her now-naked breasts pushing against him as his robe fell away in the dark shadow of the pillar. She kissed his neck as he squirmed under the strong dancer’s grasp and the suffocating aroma of her perfume. The hardness and wetness against his leg terrified his young mind to no end as he struggled, but her deft hands and lips relaxed and pleasured him. He lifted his hands to touch her bosom, eyes half-blinded with hot tears, her lips crushing his. He felt the muscles of her mouth relaxing into a smile as his male desires took hold of his chaste heart and mind.
The beauty of his dark lady overtook his senses and he moaned in boyish pleasure for the first time at the stabbing pain in his member.
The hall was a blur of bloody red with only the young woman bathed in light, straddling his thighs as she proceeded to kiss him once more…
It was her! His goddess…
“Ten years, and still…but why do I want you so much more now, now that I can never see you again? You’re probably old now but I still would love to have you sleeping beside me”-he looked bleakly at the cave floor-“you damned demon! Fie, beast from hell! Oh…”
He crumpled down agains the wall again. Would his master know of a solution? He was, after all, an experienced man who had studied the depths of the Abidhamma itself, and the closest thing to a father that any of the young monks in this hermitage had. But the young monk was in a terrible state. His robe was dusty, and the space between his legs was uncomfortably wet from his memory. His breath came out in short gasps and his hands trembled, blood rushing to his face.
The unnatural craving was, for a while, dead.
But was it not an unnatural craving that had made him?
His parents, one whom he killed when he tumbled out of her; the other who probably still lived in his tumbledown old shack outside Godavaya Harbour, drowning in toddy and still resenting his son. Their consummation had brought them closer and one night, his own seed had sprouted. From womb to tomb, everyone bore that union of two energies within their mortal bodies.
Everyone was born of that craving. He knew then that his dark angel would be back to pleasure him with memories of their nights together. The thought made him sit bolt upright-perhaps lying down was not the best way to stay clear of impure thoughts.
The Buddha had mentioned to his disciples the Vinaya, the mroal code by which they must live, he mused. A code that allowed both freedom and strict discipline. Just as his faith did-but only until people started turning it into something strange, rushing off to pray during their final hours after living a life of sin. That crafty serpent by the name of Mahayana had been engorging itself with true believers of the older school and now pressure was mounting upon the hermitages.
The Kingdom of Lanka was the final bastion of the true faith.
He could not leave now.
He mused on the new idea that once one had reached the first stage of Enlightenment-in theory, at least-there would truly be no going back. But what had he to go back to? He was bound by that chain he called his robe. It dragged against the ground, grating against the stone until his ears bled out. “Rahulo Jatho, bandhanang jathang, indeed!” he grumbled as he held up the folds of his thick robe. “What an afternoon this was.”
But just as the mighty Gautama Buddha had shaken loose all fetters and serpents from hell, he must shake off his own chains. He had to leave Cittalapabbata…the meories of passion were replaced by her radiant face and the sweet music of her voice as a river of blood rushed through him, carrying upon it the heat of pleasure…