The Dahaka

21 Sep

“Do you know who I am, my dear?”

“I know who you are, but not what you are, honey.”

The customer suddenly became agitated.

“You notice any unusual signs on me?”

“No,” she smiled. “Just an inner sense inside me.”

He swiftly paid her and silently departed, not a word more spoken.

Aeshm did not wish to have any harm befall the young hooker.

My ancestors immigrated from Lemuria, the land of Tiamat monsters.

From both my mother’s and my father’s line, I inherited my dahaka, the serpent of unrest and chaos that dwells within me, in the depths of my organic existence.

An only child, I grew up in personal isolation within which my serpent ruled and dominated. There was never any chance for me to take command over my constant companion.

In my dreams, the dahaka was the most active actor. Never having had any playmates, my inner being was my only friend and confidant.

We two had no need for speech. All my thoughts were fully known to Dahaka, and the ideas of my other came immediately into my own mind.

I learned to have no doubts that this serpent that my eyes rarely saw had ideas and feelings of its own. It was not at all identical to myself in its consciousness. That was a lesson that I picked up very early in life.

It was an incident in primary school that first led to a killing bite by Dahaka.

A classmate and I were playing tag in a part of our schoolyard where no one was watching, where no one else could see us.

Spar was beginning to become a bully, and that irritated and angered me. I did not want to serve as one of his many victims. The incident occurred when he shoved me to the ground, pinned me down with his heavier body, and started to pommel me with clenched fists.

I gasped for breath, at a loss as to how to halt the painful beating of me.

In a fraction of a second, the serpent struck out from my panting mouth. It went directly for the neck artery of the weighty foe on top of me.

I watched as blood spouted out in a river of blood.

The body on me became inanimate. Spar stopped breathing, and Dahaka disappeared back into its living home, which was me.

I ran to where the children were busy playing, ignorant of what had happened.

Something is wrong with Spar, I informed them without emotion in my voice or on my face. He is asleep on the playground and does not rise back up.

No one but I ever knew what produced the sudden death of the bully.

The years rolled past and I was involved in two similar incidents as a teenager. A cruel, brutal teacher and my first employer, a greengrocer, were attacked and eliminated by my Dahaka.

I did not dare put any questions to my parents on such a sensitive, difficult matter. So I became a constant hunter in libraries for information that might enlighten me about what I carried within me.

My focus of interest came to be centered on the nocturnals living in Lemuria. Was my serpent related to the headless monster called a kabandha in that ancestral land of my family?

That was a heavy, hairy being who lived and hunted on its own. There was no indication that it was able to nest within a human body, making the person into its lifetime host.

Books about Lemuria told of the pre-historic saurichians and ornithischians that roamed about the country, until humans arrived and settled there, making such species extinct. Old legends claimed that certain wild tribes fused with these giant reptilian forms and gradually came to possess certain of their traits.

I became fascinated with ancient flying species now extinct, such as the tecolote, the hibou, and the tyto. My attention was also drawn to predators like the gigantic gyps and vautour.

Whenever anything about mythical serpents appeared, I wrote down copious notes.

I came to call my internal resident by the term for the most dangerous, selfish, and greedy of all the ancient creatures, the terrible dahaka.

Lemurians shook with fear at the mention of this scaled murderer.

I recognized the greenish gray skin of my own creature in the colored illustrations of that monster. Its eyes were an indescribable rainbow of iridescence. Their brilliance reflected inner hunger and desire that was brutally selfish.

The darting tongue was a hideous orange-yellow, an evil weapon of death.

My life seemed caught in an endless cycle of dahaka attacks until I met a certain young woman named Srvara.

She was present at a public dance at the Lemurian National Home where old demotic dances brought along by immigrants from their homeland were performed by scores of young couples.

Aeshm spotted the tall, attractive towhead and drifted toward her.

Since neither of them had a dancing partner, he asked her if she would like to do a drum dance with him. She nodded yes, so that soon he had the azure-eyed beauty in his arms, gliding along to the sinuous rhythm of the small string band.

“Are you a university student?” he asked his partner.

“Yes,” she replied. “My major is ornithology.”

Aeshm grinned warmly. “I will soon be graduating. My courses have been concentrated in cultural mythology. I have my greatest interest in our Lemurian folk legacy. It is an extremely rich inheritance.”

“How interesting!” she beamed with spirit. “You must therefore know much of Lemurian history.”

At that moment, the music stopped playing.

“Why don’t we go to the pavilion and have some citronade together?” he proposed to his new acquaintance.

Srvara nodded yes, so that for the next several dance numbers the pair sat at a booth enjoying iced drinks and getting to know one another.

She spoke enthusiastically about her studies of raptors. “All varieties of vulturines and accipitrines are of interest to me,” she declared. “I have researched papers on the kestrel, the aguila, the tyto, and the hibeu. It would be wonderful for me if I could travel home to Lemuria and do field work on the unique ossifrages of the country. Do you know that we have the largest birds of prey on the Continent there? The pandionic lammergeyer is the champion species of all our living raptors, but only a few of them remain.

“I would love to see these surviving birds while they still survive.”

Aeshm, there and then, made a monumental decision on the course of his life.

“We have very similar interests,” he smiled. “There are fascinating legends concerning the Lamurian pandions and their extraordinary strength and powers. They can fly high with their prey and drop them down on large rock formations to kill them. That frequently happens back in the homeland.”

“Yes, I know,” she softly cooed. “I know all about that.”

The two continued talking all that evening, forgetting to return to the dance floor again.

When was it that I first felt the emotion of love for Srvara? On one of our early dates together? It took me a span of time to realize what was happening to me.

An overarching question demanded all my thought. How did she see me? Was anything similar to my own attachment arising in her own mind?

We never kissed or embraced, but we would talk to each other, on and on.

She spoke about her ornithological work, while I related what I had learned of the Lemurian supernatural tradition. We conversed as if we had known each other all our lives.

There was one topic of Lemurian folklore I never went into with her: the dahaka serpent that had the ability to reside inside the human body. That was an area of knowledge too dangerously sensitive for me to deal with in any possible way. With all my mind, I avoided any reference to the entity so connected to me.

It was Srvara who proposed that the two of us make a one-day excursion to the Continental Forest. “They have species there from many different countries,” she said to me in a pleasant voice. “How interesting it will be to see for ourselves some of the creatures from the legends that you have studied in your course work.”

I agreed instantly. “Yes,” I told her. “We shall both enjoy and benefit from a trip to that wildlife preserve.”

If only I had known what the outcome of the excursion would turn out to be!

In a long train of cabs full of sightseers, the couple passed through woods thickly packed with grasstrees, horntrees, inktrees, and canoetrees.

Aeshm caught sight of a small group of antlered rucervines, pointing it out to his companion.

It then became the turn of Srvara to catch sight of several marsupial thylacines with dark gray bands on them.

Both of them simultaneously saw a spotted dasyure up in the branches of a bluewood tree.

The train of wagoncars came to a stop and a megaphone informed the riders that they had reached the rest and eating station where they would have a quarter hour to themselves.

“Let’s take a walk around this place,” proposed Srvara.

They climbed off the rubber-tired train and began to roam about, following a narrow path that led into a thick stand of trees. Neither of them spoke till a clear field of glass appeared ahead. She came to a halt, as he then did. Both walkers looked around in all four directions.

The silver sky, bright and cloudless, revealed a flock of fast-flying avians hurrying near.

Both watchers peered up at the very large birds. Srvara was the one who identified what they were.

“Pondians!” she announced excitedly. “Those are lammergeiers. I once told you about them.”

Grinning broadly, Aeshm appeared to lose self-control. He leaned to the side, throwing both arms about the slender wrist of his companion.

She made a futile attempt to squeeze herself out of his clutches, but failed to find the strength to do so. The power of Aeshm seemed to be growing by the second.

As he bent forward toward her face, she lost command over her body.

The two of them appeared to be locked together into one as Aeshm kissed the lips of Srvara. Neither saw what was occurring above them. Only when three of the lammergeiers struck the head of Aeshm did he realize the peril facing him.

All of a sudden, the greenish gray dahaka emerged out of the mouth of the man under attack. Its poisonous tongue reached forth as it attempted to protect its host’s body from the vicious bird assault about to begin.

A swift, short battle ensued. Biting, pecking, pushing, and wounding occurred with instantaneous rapidity.

Several additional lammergeiers descended to join the mayhem of flesh and blood.

Two of the birds fell dead as victims of the maddened dahaka.

Srvara lay helpless and unmoving on the glass, a paralyzed witness to the blood-letting scene.

Aeshm waved his arms about in futile attempts at defense.

His conscious mind told him that the raptors were guardians and protectors of young Lemurian women from dahakas, their mortal foes. The birds were after vengeance and satisfaction of an ancient grudge.

He and Srvara witnessed how the birds killed and ate his resident serpent.

The departing flight of these executioners was sudden and swift.

Aeshm and Srvara lay a long time in the grass, both of them having fallen into coma, yet both still alive.

When the former awoke in a short while, he was surprised to find out that he no longer contained a Lemurian dahaka, as he had all his life.

He would have to learn to live without another being inside his body.

His eyes focused on the still unconscious body of Srvara in the grass. His hope for the future rested with her, he realized.

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