Long before the Pyramids or the Ice Age, when South was North and summer was winter, when graziers blanketed the continent, and comfortably before the flood, a goatherd शुभ अनुमान (Shubh Anumān) and his nanny goat Āīna (आईना) tromped along the Higher-than-Eagle Trail in a land once known as 𐎥𐎭𐎠𐎼 (Gandāra) and later the Hindu Kush. Anu tends to the goat herd whose wool provides their clothes and whose milk nourishes his family. Anu walks in the mountain pastures and thru the passes listening to the music of the wind and the birds and the flora. Anumaan lives in a community near today's Sarmouni monastery in Hindu Kush in Afghan Kashmir. People here speaks an ancient version of Kalash. To the southeast lay Kashmir, named for the tortoise sage Kaśyapa, the most ancient of the Saptarishi (seven sages) in the Rigveda.
As Anu grows from a boy into a young man he learns the song, and sings his part to the goats, birds, flowers, and the sun and moon. From the birds he learns the lay of the land, how to navigate the mountains, and to predict the weather.
They dearly love their paradoxically brave fainting cashmere goats. The goats' cleverness is matched only by their appetite. Anu must hide his clothes, anything with pockets, for the goats will chew holes in the hopes of droppage.
Anu longs for a friend beyond his nanny goat, but treasures his whirling fool of a father. Anu's father is a dervish called Bavandar ("tornado"), who dances to the music of nature as Anu has learnt to sing. Bavandar is not a man of rigor, but he possesses impeccable discipline. He can perform an intricate dance that lasts a day and two nights without the same step twice. But Anu's father rarely knows how many goats are in the herd or where they might be. He is rather like a flutterby beating its wings without intending a direction of flight. On the seasonal evenings of a ritual celebration, Bavandar leads the village in dance and song, together making an enormous yantra with their feet as they chant for rain/harvest/sun/babies.
One day Anu meets a goat with whom he shares his senses. This goat reminds him of his grandmother, who departed more than a moon ago. This goat, Anu understands as he knows his own mind. Though the goat does not possess self-consciousness; it has no 'I'.
Anu often dreams of mountainscapes which he soon happens upon. The goat, who he thinks of as his mirror image, he calls Aaeena. Aina knows the way, and guides Anu's steps.
As he grows and explores, Anu finds the forest to be enchanted: what he needs tends to appear from the camouflage. Aina points it out. The trails that lead through the forests up the mountains above the tree line are flanked by berry bushes in bloom.
Anu discovers that to orienteer in the mountains he must still his mind and smell the way. His nose and the goat share this sense.
One night Anu dreams of a great fall, plummeting into a deep canyon as the rock gives way under his feet. It is morning, Anu and Āīna chase the sun up the Higher-than-Eagle Trail. Their steps grow hollow as they rose with the shadows to the vista toward the rising sun. But despite his now-timid, careful steps, he does not come upon the hollow trail on his daily hikes with Aina. Instead Anu reaches a new peak unknown to his village, where he spots a woman on a distant peak whose silk and hair dance in the wind.
Anu sometimes dreams of having long hair woven with jasmine vines, of darting through the shadow woods with silent strides, of tending the edibles, and watching a goat herd amble by.
Aina often notes the aroma of jasmine and musk near the berries and herbs. Anu harvests them on their hikes up to the ridgeline. The abundance is dizzying.
Anu's daily walks are adventures filled with serendipity and dream echoing wonder. The denizens of the forest teach him the song and the way.
Anu dreams of a giant with skin like translucent pearl. The giant leads the song of the forest; the stars twinkle to the notes. The giant gazes to the sunrise from the peak of Mandara. Anu sees with the giant's eyes in a spectrum of 50 colors to the typical human 7. The sun rises precisely from a crook between mountains to the East and glints as if to mark a spot. Anu feels the giant yearn to rest there. That week Anu and Aina hike to the very spot on which the giant had stood. Anu notices that the Sun will set just over his village that day. From the giant's spot Anu spies the mysterious figure in silk again, a striking beauty even so far away. She seems to beckon Anu to her, then vanishes.
Anu dreams he is the goat, Aina, who witnessed the birth of a baby boy marked with a constellation of stars just below his navel, at the third dantian just like Anu's birthmark.
As Anu as Aina met the baby's eyes, the world collapses into their shared gaze, sucked through a colored tube and ejected thru a wall of light into a dark chamber softly aglow, still, warm.
A low, distant rumble rises to an emergent roar and the chamber bursts open, filling with light and fire. The chamber had been cast in resonant crystal that sits ready to pop, wound tight at the molecular level like a crystalline spring. Anu, through now-huge eyes, pans down to his hands where a tablet gleams back in a 50-hue rainbow of glyphs: the song dances on the surface of the Codex.
As it cracks the chamber, the rumbling drill falls to pieces all around him. The miners rain into the chamber behind the drill, screaming in terror. Anu snaps back to his usual self, first to the grandmother goat POV, then into his own dreaming persona, finally awakening next to his nanny goat now imbued with the family of souls to which he belongs.
That morning as he guides the goats, his eyes take in a wider spectrum. Aina and Anu come upon a wealth of berries like never before. The birdsong was more intelligible than ever:
thanka thanka shine sun rainarain tomorrow peepa valley puma peepa giant sleepa
Anu and Aina trek east. Anu can't be sure where the giant has chosen to rest so he follows Aina and his nose until that familiar must is nearly choking them. Just as Anu knows he has arrived, the ground disappears. Hanging in the air, swimming with the gravel into black, time slows to a crawl.
Anu sees the shadows of his life like a 4-D flipbook: the silk seductress, the spectre shadow tending berries, grandmother gardening, his mother's garden, his wails mixing with his mother's at his birth and at her death.
Anu feels gratitude, joy, forgiveness, peace all foam up from the Well within, a cushion against the pain of this tragic fall.
Is this it?
Loose ends catch his wrists, frayed fibers snag his tumbling bag of water and bones. Careening off the walls of the narrowing chasm, Anu cinches to a pinched halt. Jammed but not busted, Anu digs himself looser, sees a glimmer below and daylight far above. Aina bleats alarm and feels relief as they relink. Anu shimmies downward. The chasm widens to a crystal chamber. Here lies the giant. Anu can see himself in 50-color vision approaching the huge slumbering figure.
The tablet in the giant's grasp alights, projects, buzzes, and chirps like a forest full of moonbirds. Anu sees a constellation of stars twinkle just below the giant navel, and feels it in his own belly.
From the tablet glows a scene in 4-D of Anu and Aina sopping wet on the trail home as the light fades. A puma stalks them from the shadowy undergrowth of the forest.
Too battered, Anu cannot climb back up——too narrow, too slippery—— so he bids Aina a good night and cuddles with the giant, who is warm, who is him.
Anu awakens to water dripping on his eyelids. The giant still slumbers though it holds the tablet now upright. Water fills the crystal chamber. Anu understands he is meant to retrieve the tablet. The birds call for rain, which may save Anu, or drown him. As the chasm fills, he claws to stay afloat, foaming up, to rise to the top, cream of the crop, panting to fill his bubbles.
The giant lies still, watching Anu float up to where the path has given way. There Aina sits in hopeful vigil. The Giant's white hair anemone dances, eyes shine like the 50-color sun.
The chasm floods nearly to the top as the rain pours down, and Anu scrambles and gasps as he is flushed into the rapids. Aina trots along the banks to follow Anu's hapless tumble.
As Anu tumbles washed down the mountain, a zarnab tree uproots and falls across the rapids. Anu catches a limb and clambers onto the fallen tree. Aina catches up and helps Anu to shore. They catch their breath as the storm runs its course and dissipates. When the clouds start to clear, the sun is low. They start home.
Along their way, a shadow stalks the puma, stepping between its pounce and Aina, holding, swinging a bloody hare by the ears like a toreador's cape. The puma gets a mouthful of hare, and bounds off sneezing and appeased.
Aina stops in her tracks the hair on her chinny-chin-chin stands straight, and she faints like a wooden rocking horse. Anu feels the stare of the shadow on him, doesn't notice having dropped the tablet.
The boy and his goat return to his father's house battered, soaked, exhausted, but alive and elated. Bavandar and his new wife Pilar make soup and a cozy woodfire-heated sauna and bath.
That night he dreams of being a father, his daughter a shadow nymph frolicking in the dark woods devotedly attended by her mother.
The next day Anu returns to where Aina fainted to search for the shadow who saved them. From a branch of the zarnab tree there hangs a puma skin satchel. Anu's nose has guided them back, following the sultry stream of jasmine and musk. Inside the velvety pouch lined with a prowler's fur, the holopane codex tablet sits nestled and dormant, along with a necklace of crystal, and seemingly feline, teeth.