The Devil was on his evening stroll. He looked at the animals slinking behind trees & wondered why they would be so uneasy in the presence of He who guarded their souls from corruption. He walked to a fawn and placed his palm on her cheek. Going down on his knees, he held the fawn in the curve of his breast. All the other animals rushed to Him as did the flowers & leaves. There wasn’t an infinite which could fill the expanse of his soothing, murmuring bosom. Behind the shield of his reassuring calm, he realised it was time to meet His brother.
It is strange how the ways of the Devil are. Movement is exaggerated & in that Time is created. Where he wishes not Time, the landscape transforms into the image in His mind while Time awaits a cue. Where he deals only in beauty & joy he withdraws not his pacifying tunes. Never has man known beauty to arrive & cease to be so except over time. When beauty is realised, it stays thus. In that realm, which is unbounded, in that moment, which is unclocked, in that breath, which is never exhaled, one unites with the Devil to recognise & realise beauty & calm like nothing of mental machination can summon from the most austere depths of arrogated chastity & holiness. Hence, the animals & flowers & leaves & the sagging bark of the eucalyptus tree felt a great peace against the caressing love of the Devil although the Devil was at that very instant at the doorsteps of God.
God was visibly disturbed. Not because he sensed his brother’s presence in his mansion & certainly not because he had witnessed the affection of the creatures of the world he assumed was his. He anyway didn’t care about the souls of animals or insensate beings. He had met Zinkalov in the morning & was unhappy. Zinkalov, along with Setura, was God’s favourite creation. Zinkalov was given the mind of God’s smile & the muscle of God’s sweat. Setura was given the beauty stolen from the clouds (and what we see today up in the sky are just the breaths of clouds which once sashayed on this earth, gorgeous, spell-binding & voluptuous) & the eyes of the river Bhira. How the Devil collected the souls of these dying creatures is another tale which I will let Sdirut, the crow, tell you some other day. It should suffice to say that Bhira, who once was the vines to the heavens & home to all who smiled, nearly died without her eyes, till the Devil rushed to her side & gave her wetness in exchange for her eyes. Now do you know why rivers are wet?
Zinkalov hadn’t done anything wrong. He was largely incapable of it. The Devil himself had tutored him. All he did was hum a tune when he had finished running many furlongs with Ghiyu, the leopard. Such was the joy that filled his inhuman heart that he couldn’t help but break into a song of unheard tune. God was passing by & that sight & sound made him nervous.
The Devil walked into the room where God flounced between couch & window & floor. Light broke & coughed & shadows missed the lee of the world. At the sight of the Devil, light frowned & darkened. God turned to acknowledge his brother.
“Come, my blood.”
“Greetings, one born from the same chalice.”
“You fail not to remind me of misty days, Devil.”
“One must only forget what was an illusion, my brother. The rest is the substance of our very marrow.”
“I am not in a mood to argue, brother. Sit & drink some wine while I fret.”
“Such wine wets not my throat, brother. Tell me, what ails you?”
“But he is your blood, brother.”
“That doesn’t rid him of the ability to crease my forehead”
“But how can one, whose every act is pure joy & entertainment, worry you?”
“Speak not as though you don’t know, Devil. It might well be you who taught him these secrets.”
“If my tutelage has produced one who is happy & sufficient, then I will never let it be a secret.”
“Did you teach him to feel beauty?”
“I beg your pardon!”
“Did you teach him to open his heart & soul to beauty?”
“Most certainly we were heading that way.”
“He seems to have overtaken you, dear brother!”
“What!? You revel in a creation that supersedes you?”
“How ridiculous! Why create if you are to be made obsolete?”
“But how do I become obsolete?”
“Because he now knows how to experience beauty. He knows how to smile with the Sun & Moon. He knows how to sing with Bhira & her minions. He gallops with Ghiyu & revels in the breeze that caresses his visage. In all this, he doesn’t need me. Why! He doesn’t even need you. How could you teach him to be thus?”
“But why should he need you or me?”
“Why then are we needed? We who are the creator of all things, creator of Zinkalov & Setura – the most magnificent of all creations – will be soon forgotten as all these creations of ours revel in beauty & joy not needing us anymore. What is a God who will be forgotten?”
“But you will still be loved, my brother. Zinkalov, in all his sojourns, fails not to love you or laugh with me. Setura too shall learn to ride the winds & become fruit & fish while returning to her originally conceived form. In none of them will she love you less. What then worries you?”
“To be loved is less flattering than to be needed, Devil.”
“And to be needed is more acerbic than to be hated, brother.”
“What do you know! You need no one & no one needs you.”
“Which is why I know.”
God hurled a vase at his painting of tomorrow’s sunrise. He shrieked & howled & trembled in rage.
“Shut up, Devil. I cannot allow my creation to not need me, to not funnel all their joy through me & only when I allow it, holding it back from them when I deem fit often for no other reason than to test their love for me.”
“And that would prove what? That they do love you? That they don’t have the capacity to love you through all storms? That they will love you only when faced with trials?”
“Whatever it proves it will provide me with their love & deny them the right to seek anything devoid of me.”
“All it will prove is that you need them.”
“How dare you!”
God in his rage flung his thunderbolt out of the window at Zinkalov & Setura as she began to learn from him to hum. In the blink of an eye God’s creations were turned to ash & Devil smiled, for ashes are better than the bound. He left the mansion of God knowing he’d have to return soon to soothe God.
A sparrow’s flight passed before the Devil decided to return to the mansion. As he walked in, he heard God’s laughter & the bile rose to the tone of it. He ran up the stairs only to find God staggering over the balcony wall. The Devil rushed to hold him back & saw two creatures more beautiful than Zinkalov & Setura roaming the gardens of Eden. They were shaped beautifully & smelled like fresh dew. He also noticed that all trees were rooted to the ground & fish were not chattering on the swings but had taken to hiding within Bhira.
“Good evening, my brother.”
“Devil, Devil! Aah! Just the one I want to see. See! Behold my finest creations, my brother.”
“They are beautiful.”
“That is Adam. That is Eve.”
“When should I start tutoring them?”
“Never!” snapped God, scowling.
“I have taught them all that they need to know & also instilled in them great gratitude for being created.”
“I see that the trees do not fly anymore.”
“I needed something to create their mind with.”
“And the chatter of fish?”
“That is my most remarkable trick, Devil.”
“Whatever it may be, you cannot keep them from being tutored by me. All creatures have to be tutored by me. That is the agreement.”
“Go on, teach them your stuff.”
“You seem considerably at ease with that proposition.”
“Because I am, dear Devil.”
“You do know I will teach them to enjoy beauty & experience joy & love each other in ways I just invented over lunch. I will teach them …”
“But in all that teaching”, interrupted God,”You cannot teach them to do what will be their unbecoming & their very chain that tethers them to me.”
The Devil looked puzzled & then remembered the fawn’s shivering frame. He turned pale & so did all the roses in the world.
“Yes, darling Devil. I did it.”
“Yes, yes, yes. I have taught them words. I have taught them language. I have taught them how to create more & more languages. I have taught them how to create scripts & sounds. I have taught them all the decadent ways of wanting to put their experiences in words.”
“Yes, my sweet not-so-clever Devil. They will soon write paeans. They will write tales & allegories. They will write poems & bleeding sonnets. They will usher in ballads & songs to cry their hearts out & woo their latest fancies.”
“No!” whispered Devil, struggling to hold the balustrades.
“Yes! Your favourite love shall be quaquaversal degenerate, aching to be captured in words failing which, it shall be deemed non-existent or irrelevant.”
“How could you!”
“Oh! I can do anything, dear brother. But you must listen to the masterstroke. After every slice of beauty captured in words, after every object is wrapped in sounds, when all that is felt is hurriedly scribbled as patterns that others ache to learn lest they miss out on “beauty”, there is the lagniappe of my genius. When they do find or invent words for all their bursting feelings, they will always find them inadequate. And then, dear brother, they will turn to me whom – alone – they cannot express in words.”
And the Devil turned to look at those two unsuspecting souls through teary eyes & knew what would become of him & the rest of his world.