Johannan, in a deep trance of reflection, suddenly came to a halt after days of wandering through the desert.
Why is the ground rumbling? He inspected the area but didn’t see anything that resembled a stampede of animals or a landslide of some sort.
He caught his breath. “An earthquake! That old man on the camel never said anything about earthquakes out here!”
There was nowhere to run, and he was trapped like a hunted animal, with no escape. Johannan felt the earth shudder as the hands of nature panned the Gobi of its golden pyramids. The vast structures of sandy hills were humbled to lie as low as the valleys they once towered over. Johannan screamed at the top of his lungs, his feet paddling against the loosened sand. His voice snapped like a high-tension wire, leaving him hoarse. He fell down so many times that he decided to stay on the ground, but that felt even worse. He had been through storms and disasters many times before, but he hadn’t realised how much comfort it brought to hear other people screaming. A comfort he now understood he had taken for granted.
The tremor released its firm clutch on the land. Johannan’s body was weakened from fear. He was still trying to catch his breath—the idea of having nowhere to run in such a situation made him wonder if he should have taken the old traveller’s advice.
“Johannan,” ebbed a voice. Johannan scanned around his surroundings, the sky was still vacant apart from the invading glare of the sun.
The long, jagged edges of the desert that touched the sky had now become a long, straight line that surrounded Johannan. It was almost as if the land was stripped of all its garments, and he was standing on a colossal plate of sand.
“What do you want, Son of Nepal? Why not consider turning back and leave me be?”
It was the voice he longed to hear. The fear that weakened his body departed, his heart fluttered. Johannan was disorientated. The words—I’ve lost the words again. What was I going to say? Quickly, Johannan, think!
He attempted to get up, but a lingering dizziness forcefully held him to the ground.
“I—I have a request for you, Great Spirit.”
“A request?” bellowed the Great Spirit. The dense chilled presence of the spirit began to thin. Johannan could sense what it meant. He slapped his forehead, “No—No. Please don’t do this! Don’t do this again—the least you could do is listen to me!” Johannan was exhausted. The spirit was very stubborn and unwilling.
How can I get him to see my plight. What will it take?
Any normal man in his right mind would have given up by now, but not Johannan. So far, the Great Spirit had appeared in a sandstorm and an earthquake. Johannan did not like either of them, but the earthquake was far more terrifying.
Johannan felt that it might be a difficult task trying to get the Great Spirit to listen to him, judging from the ridicule in his last response. He trod through the sand for days and halted as soon as he noticed the long, straight line of the horizon dancing. He gasped, “Another sandstorm—could it be the Great Spirit again?”
Johannan didn’t panic like he did before, and his heart didn’t race; he knew what he must do. He most definitely preferred a sandstorm to an earthquake.
But what am I going to say this time? Perhaps I should just come right out with the question as I never get a chance to make it known.
He tucked his head down by his knees and wrapped himself in his long cloak. The clouds of brown engulfed him. He couldn’t see past the pitch dark of the storm from under the covering of his cloak. He felt a breath of cooling breeze circulating him.
“Speak, Johannan!” The Great Spirit returned, but this was not what Johannan had expected him to say.
“M—My fiancé is blind, and I heard that you can help restore her sight. Can you do this, Great Spirit?” he said, trying to speak as clearly as he could through the wailing gale.
“Come, Johannan, find me up the mountain.” When the Great Spirit had finished speaking, his chilling presence vanished. Johannan felt the heat of the desert invading, increasing like a fanned flame.
‘What does the Great Spirit mean by “the mountain”?
He was confused—he hadn’t see any mountains nearby before the storm. As a matter of fact, it had been weeks now since he had seen anything that even resembled a mountain, especially since the earthquake.
The sandstorm disintegrated at a steady pace. The azure skies and the blazing scowl of the desert sun returned after a few hours. When the flying sand had settled, and the desert became a little more visible, he noticed, to his astonishment, a colossal mountain less than half a day’s walk ahead of him.
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