© Copyright Arthur Hagopian 2016

Two

For a moment, Anubis dismissed the

phantom from his mind and turned to the

unresolved mystery of the new grave.

He   knew   the   names   of   every   single   denizen   of   the   City   of   the Dead:   knowing   their   names   ensured   them   eternal   life,   for   every   time   the name   of   a   departed   soul   was   mentioned,   that   soul   was   reborn.   But   who the new grave was for, remained a dark secret. Eventually, it would be resolved. All he had to do was wait. "Perhaps,    you    are    angry    and    frustrated    because    you    have    been bypassed, and your ego has been bruised," his mind told him. There    had    been    a    time    when    Anubis    had    been    worshipped    as    the embodiment   of   the   gods,   invested   with   the   white   and   black   ox-hide   of power   and   the   flail   of   wisdom,   whose   principal   undertaking   was   to   assist in   the   rites   during   which   a   dead   soul   was   prepared   for   admission   to   the Underworld. Anubis   would   receive   the   dead   into   the   tomb   and   perform   the Opening   of   the   Mouth   before   conducting   the   soul   of   the   departed   one   to the Field of Celestial Offerings. He   would   stand   before   the   scales   of   judgment,   carrying   a   feather   in one   hand   and   the   heart   of   the   deceased   person   in   the   other.   Gently, invoking   prayers   and   incantations   that   were   as   old   as   creation   itself,   he would   place   the   heart   upon   one   scale.   Then,   he   would   place   the   feather upon   the   other   scale.   If   the   feather   was   heavier   than   the   heart,   then Anubis   would   judge   the   dead   to   be   a   righteous   person,   worthy   of   being initiated   into   eternity.   If   the   heart   proved   heavier,   then   the   dead   would   be led   to   the   devourer   of   souls.   The   Messiah   would   have   no   use   for   him   or her. The   origins   of Anubis   were   shrouded   in   mystery   but   it   was   said   that his   father   was   a   god   and   his   mother   a   goddess.   He   was   said   to   wash himself   in   the   waters   wherein   the   gods   did   their   ablutions.   Throughout   the eons,   he   had   been   endowed   with   various   designations.   At   one   time,   he had   been   called   "He   Who   is   Upon   His   Hill." At   others   he   was   "the   Opener of the Ways." Despite    the    ingenuity    of    human    imagination    in    its    choice    of appellations,   the   prime   duties   of   Anubis   the   jackal   had   never   changed:   to guard the end and ensure their ka safe passage to the underworld. But   someone   had   had   the   temerity   to   interfere   and   to   upset   the   orderly routine   of   the   necropolis   which   was   a   sacred   place,   with   its   established rites, not to be disturbed or altered by any mortal. What,    then    could    have    caused    the    mysterious    gravedigger    to embark    upon    his    midnight    mission?    And    why    had    he    chosen    that particular   spot,   just   at   the   entrance   to   the   double   gates,   whether   to   dig   the grave?   What   could   have   driven   him   to   undertake   a   task   that   every   living being   throughout   the   history   of   man,   dreaded?   For   digging   a   grave,   in   the middle   of   the   night,   was   a   chore   only   the   most   foolhardy,   or   desperate would have attempted. Perhaps,   the   gravedigger   had   wanted   to   ensure   that   his   deceased would    be    first    in    line    to    welcome    the    Messiah    upon    his    entry    into Jerusalem.   Surely,   he   might   have   thought,   that   would   ensure   that   the deceased   would   be   the   first   to   be   restored   to   life   in   the   Messiah's   new order   of   being,   where   there   was   no   gnashing   of   teeth,   no   eternal   torment, no   pain   or   hunger,   no   water   of   adversity   or   bread   of   affliction,   where   rivers of   beatitude   flowed   beneath   trees   of   benediction,   and   fruits   of   ecstasy dropped from branches covered with leaves of righteousness. And   the   heart   of Anubis   the   jackal   was   moved   and   he   paused   for   a moment to ponder the possibilities envisaged. "Surely,"   he   mused,   "this   is   not   the   work   of   a   deranged   person   or   a lawbreaker. A   deranged   person   would   not   care   about   the   exact   place   and position   of   a   grave   and   a   lawbreaker   would   not   have   performed   such back-breaking   labor   merely   to   spite   the   keepers   of   the   necropolis.   It   can only   be   the   work   of   a   person   who   has   been   bereft   of   reason   by   pain   and grief   over   the   loss   of   a   loved   one.   Perhaps,   it   was   his   desire   to   ensure eternal   life   for   that   person   whom   he   loved,   that   forced   him   to   such   an   act of desperation." Tomorrow, he would find out, for sure. Anubis   loped   back   to   his   cave,   and   stretched   out   by   the   fire,   feeling the   warmth   creeping   back   into   his   aching   bones.   Soon,   his   eyes   closed and he surrendered himself to a restful sleep.
Two Travellers        The Scene: The cemetery in front of the Golden Gate (aka the Gates of Mercy). Two noisy crowds, from opposing directions, make their way towards the gate, each group holding aloft a coffin or shroud bearing the corpse of a recently deceased person.      The men walk in front, singing hymns and mouthing prayers, some with torn shirts, the women behind, wailing and tearing at their hair.      A little further back, we see two Travelers sitting on headstones, observing the scene nonchalantly. A Well, here we are at the Golden Gate. Ω So, this is the famous gate? A Yes. Ω It's two gates. A Yes. Ω Why are they blocked? What use is a blocked gate to which we have no key? A It won't remain like that forever. Ω What do you mean? A At some point in time, it will open. Ω Just like that? A Obviously not, you nincompoop. Ω Oh, we're back to that again, are we? A Back to what? Ω Vituperation, abuse, hostility, aggravation, rudeness, aggressiveness . . . A Go on, what else? Ω I can't. I've run out of epithets. A Is that what we were talking about? Ω I actually forgot what we were talking about. A You're a retard, you know. Ω Vituperation, abuse, hostility, aggra . . . A Is this how we are going to spend our time while we are waiting? Ω I didn't know we were waiting. Anyway, what are we waiting for? A Not what, who. Ω Who? A You don't know? Ω No. Is it Godot? A Who the hell is he? Ω Don't you know? Haven't you read Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot" about these two characters who wait and wait for Godot but he never turns up? A No. Haven't read the book. I don't read books. Ω Let me get this straight. You don't read books? A Happy to say I have never read a book in my life. Ω That's the silliest thing I've ever heard. The most disgusting, actually. How can you live without books? A Let me ask you a question. You read books, yes? Ω Of course. A Would you say that you are a happy and rich person? Ω Rich I am not. Happiness is a question of quality. A So, none of all the books you might have read has been of any help towards creating wealth for you or giving you happiness. Ω I never cared for money. And as for happiness, it must come from within. A Not from books.
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