Ant Smith

All stories


Exile - as an expression of time
Vision - as a waking dream
Expiration - as a sleeping life
Normalisation - as the repetition of past events
Time - as the illusion of life
Satisfaction - at reaching an end

Events are the chains of life.

Jaya! sat drinking tea, as was his custom at times like these; when, despite the best of his efforts, things persisted in happening to him. At one time he would shake his fist menacingly in the empty air and shout 'Leave me alone, father'. But now he generally sat with a hot cup of tea until whatever was happening to him stopped happening to him and went off to happen to somebody else.

Jaya! had been both married and widowed. He had been both the hero and the villain, sometimes on seperate occasions, and sometimes both at once. He had been at one time tremendously rich, the son of a prince; and at another terribly poor, a pauper on the street. The people had hailed him as the saviour and reviled him as the serpent. He had swam in the holy waters of the Ganges, and would doubtless soon be burning in the fires of somebody else's hell. In short, everything that could happen to a man was determined to happen to Jaya!

But Jaya! wanted to be left alone to live in his tent by the sea.

He knew it was coming. Whenever anything was about to happen he would awake to find two mosquitoes dead in his bed roll, as though poisoned by his blood (although Jaya! didn't know it, he did in fact have poisonous blood). And so it was with a heavy heart that he had set about boiling the water to make his tea. He only hoped that the days until he could return to his tent by the sea would pass quickly. He drank his tea slowly. Only when he spat the last of the leaves from between his teeth did he rise and dress, and lift the illusion of sleep from all that lay around him. He stepped out into the glorious light of a new day that marked the beginning of the rest of his life, as it so tediously had the day before, and the day before that. Jaya! looked up to the sun in disdain at the obvious optimism with which it was burning itself to death. At least, he thought, one day you'll be burned completely up and a man may get a decent nights sleep. Then he tripped over the feet of the prophet at his door and bashed his head on the rock he used to open coconuts.

'As it was written, so has it come to pass' the prophet cried out in alarming ecstasy.

Jaya! had heard it before. It seems as though, before he was born, somebody had gone to the trouble of writing down every moment of Jaya!'s life into a big book that had been placed into a library from where every prophet seeking a vision would surreptitously tear out a page and come to disturb him in his tent by the sea. Jaya! considered boxing the prophet's ears and sending him on his way. But it would do no good, so instead he sat up and nursed the bruise that was forming on the crown of his head. For a reason he didn't understand, these great events that wouldn't leave him alone always started by causing him some pain. Jaya! decided that when it was all over he would come back and forgive the rock, but he would still move it to the other side of his tent. The prophet continued to babble.

...saviour of the fish of the sea. Protector of the birds of the sky. Devourer of the pains and misery and ills of man. Jaya! the victorious. Jaya, my wonderous master! Oh! Jaya! the magnificent!

At this point Jaya! really did box the prophets ears, and emplored him to come straight to the point. Which the prophet, being a wise man, did and then left in a hurry to ruin another man's day. In fact it was the prophet's day that ruined, since he ran directly into the mango-swamp on Jaya!'s island, where he was promptly devoured by a crocodile.

And so it was that Jaya! awoke on the day that the seas stopped foaming.


In fact nobody had noticed that the seas had stopped foaming, except for the fishermen and the boys who dived for pearls. The fishermen were in general agreement that it was a good thing, since it made the whole bothersome issue of setting out on a leaky vessel much safer. Not all of their wives would privately agree. The pearl-diving boys simply continued to dive for pearls. There was a very great demand for them and the boys were given no time to consider the weather. The racketeers who extorted the pearls from the boys did consider the weather, since they generally believed themselves to be civilised men. However, they never got their feet wet and so missed the opportunity of considering the strange and beautiful sight of a strangely calm ocean.

Jaya! Did consider the strange and beautiful sight of a strangely calm ocean, and he considered it to be pretty awful. A portent of doom. The harbinger of some very great event indeed. If that prophet had not run off and got himself eaten' thought Jaya! as his boat paddled along, I would have thrown him into this awful ocean just so as to watch the ripples'.