They did not take notice of me. Oh they looked at me all right, but I didn’t matter much to them. Plus, I did all the right things. I hiked up Elephant mountain, burned incense at the City God Temple, ate through the 36 bowl feast and generally kept to myself. But they didn’t ignore me because of all that – they did because they knew me. I was one of theirs after all. Rainfed and born of sweat. Of the same mud, same desperation. When the old Dragons looked at me, I didn’t stand out. Same blood, same grit, same hunger, same satiety.
For me: I too felt it. The deep sense of knowing, being known. Understanding and being understood. They City was very familiar to me, entire streets a facsimile of home. Mossy old buildings growing into each other, sun and shadow bathed windows, hopeful plants poking out of rusted grilles. The constant rain. Oh the rain from home! Misty one moment, barely felt and torrential later, whipping up the same same mud-scent. And then there were the trains.
These trains are different though. Back home, our trains are alive. They run us, things of chaos and steam, hope and happiness. These are different. But now and then one them gains sentience here. Just for a bit. Droopy eyes looking about. Last week, a train to Shui Yuan was 9 minutes late. Maybe it’s a mechanical fault. Maybe It is us.
The Dragons looked at me thinking me to be the same, but one day they started looking at me. Like really looking. Surely I wasn’t the first one. I wasn’t the only one here to bring my Gods, other Gods, our Gods. We have been coming to green island since forever, bringing our elephants and our monkeys, tigers and Goddesses. It is so easy to sneak them in here. They hide openly among the palm fronds and amidst the banana leaves, under the mango trees and around the neem trees. And deep in the dark forest, they convene at an old Banyan tree.
Yes, the Dragons were brought here too, sure everyone knows that. But you go tell it to them. To their face – thought as much! So they’re here, as they always have been, as they will be. The bear and old mother fled, fled when the Dragons were brought. They went east and south. To Wasa and Wayaseva, Tongatapu and Mangareva, to PukaPuka and Antua. And to Jambi and Palawan. They married, they multiplied, they morphed and in a hundred ways they endured, they also utterly died when they faced the one God. They also left parts of themselves here. And now we come.