This started as Gamu’s Story… I wanted to tell it to you, but like any good storyteller I ended up adding my own embellishments; you see the storyteller never lies……
Once upon a time, there lived simple folk in a peaceful village that was as close to being on Heaven as you could get on Earth. One would not say they were rich, the villagers, no all they had was each other, their faith and they were content. Things had not always been like that…..
Before they had come to their current peaceful state; they had lived through a violent period, with the strong preying on the weak. Sleep was a luxury for the rich, who could afford to hire strong men to watch them while they slept, ready to visit violence on anybody foolish enough, to try something. If life were fair, the rich would not have restful sleep as their dreams would be plagued with the heinous deeds they practiced to get their riches and plotting how to keep their ill-begotten gains, while the poor people plotted, on how they too could get rich.
There was a mountain, a morning’s walk away from the village; which had a mysterious happenings associated with it, no living person had ever climbed up to its peak and returned to tell the story and the dead kept their secrets. Were it not true, it was the kind of story you told naughty children to keep them from misbehaving that “If you do not stop doing that I will leave you to Zhanje”
Zhanje was the name of the mountain and whatever called the mountain home. It was a curious mountain barren of trees and vegetation just a steep sided affair with a pointy peak that sometimes billowed dark smoke. On moonless nights a red glow at its peak like there was a fire from deep within its bowels; it usually rained when this happened.
It was “known” that a pilgrim seeking wealth would journey to this mountain and present an offering of a human head on an alcove at the mountain’s base; the mountain would rumble and smoke would erupt from the mountain top and within a fortnight your fortunes would change for the better.
What nobody told you, was that communing with Zhanje was not a once-off payment but a pact that demanded recurring sacrifice, lest your fortune turn into ashes like the black rain of ash that sometimes fell from the mountain. People sacrificed strangers, friends and loved ones; some hired cut-throats who cut throats, head-hunters who collected heads for the highest bidders.
The poor who could not hire neither body guards nor head-hunters were the first to get wiped out, the rich got richer and poor died. You can see how only the rich could afford to sleep.
But as with all things there’s a season, an age and a page; faced with near extinction a new chapter begun. The villagers realised if they stood together they could fend off the head-hunters, united they stood. They found joy in the simple things; gold in the sun, silver in the moon, emeralds in the fields and the pricelessness of community.
Those who had bargained with Zhanje fell into all sorts of ruin as if the four horseman of the apocalypse had been set loose on them, famine, pestilence, war and death.
A new era begun, one which was not based on the materialistic, they had each other and that was enough.
If life were fair, this is when the story would end, like a happy ever after ending in a fairytale but some stories don’t end…
You see while the people had forgotten the past, the mountain remembered everything and missed nothing.
Zhanje saw all and remembered all, the silent witness to the changing ages, feeding on the chaos and carnage.
Zhanje watched as pale strangers came to village from lands far far away, strangers who showed them how uncultured their ways had been and brought the One Truth with them, on how they must live from here on now, to secure their immortal soul‘s inheritance in the next life and while they were busy with the great hereafter, the strangers made themselves very comfortable.
Perhaps, a little too comfortable, as they seemed to now own the very land itself; eventually they would over stay their welcome and the villagers realised how they had to emancipate themselves from the shackles they had not seen being forged until they were enslaved with chains that could not be broken, at least not easily. They yearned for the simpler times when the only thing they had to fear was a head-hunter divorcing your body from your neck…
They rose up against the neo-oppression, there was war and many died on all sides. The mountain fed.
War gave way to a cease-fire and a great council was sat to decide on the way forward; where everyone could all get along, reconciliation for the past wrong; land restored to its rightful owners and a new way of life where everyone was equal and free to choose the leaders who would guide them.
Another age begun, a new era filled with hope and great expectations.
With great expectations, comes great disappointment; after a while the villagers would come to see how not all people were equal while some were favoured others remained second class villagers. The oppression had somehow carried over and only the face of the oppressor had changed and even changing that, like cutting of the head of snake, another one would appear but this time on the head of the one who had cut off the snake’s head, and the stuggle continued.
The villagers would sit around a fire and reminisce on how things had been better before, everything always seemed better, remembered with selective amnesia; only Zhanje remembered all, saw all and waited to feed.
Zhanje watched as people searched high and low for their break-through, in the old days this is about when they would have come to Zhanje’s alter with sacrificial heads for a moment in the sun, but of course they had forgotten the old ways. Instead they turned to men of the cloth, who led them like an innocent flock of sheep on the path of righteousness.
As was their nature a new crop of men appeared read to exploit the innocence promising that breakthrough was at hand to those who believed. How else would a wolf prey on a flock than in the guise of the shepard.
Nobody paid these men any mind when they journeyed to the base of the mountain, seeking a sacred sanctuary to pray, but when they returned with wizened looks on their visages like prophets of old; yes, people begun to flock to them listening to…. the guidance from the mountains, like they were commandments written on tablets of stone by the creator’s very own hand.
When these men declared that it was time, time for the receive their breakthrough everyone meekly stood in line waiting for their turn when they would lay their head on the alter and have their head neatly chopped off….
…Who needed head-hunters in such a glorius age like this…
In the distance Zhanje, rumbled and ashy smoke rained from its summit; yes, things would change and change again like a wheel turning everything that has been will be again, everything changes and nothing changes, and Zhanje would feed….
Long after the last man had sacrificed his kin or achieved his dream by trampling upon everyone’s dreams Zhanje would still be there, glowing red on a moonless night and would not miss anyone, remembering all and witnessing all.
If mountains could talk, the stories they could tell……
Day 22 of 25 A story I heard…. and a blogbattle themed Innocent
The mountain is real but the story is fictional and any similarities to any events real and imaginary is purely coincidental ^_^