Finger Pointing at the Moon

Sami must have fallen asleep. When he awoke, his holy bossman Guru Baba was lying beside him, not breathing.

Oh my God! thought Sami. Why did I make that haiku about death? He’s an old man suffering with dementia. Maybe he’s had enough of living. Was he just waiting for someone’s permission to die? What have I done?

His gaze was filled with cherry blossom, scattered everywhere around.

Just then however, Guru Baba raised a hand. His arm rose stiffly and pointed to the last cherry blossom clinging to a tree. As he did so, its petals fluttered down.

His finger continued pointing beyond the non-existent blossom. Sami noticed that Guru Baba’s nails were neatly trimmed and shone silver. It seemed that he’d had a manicure, or maybe were they just catching the moonlight. Did Sami’s own nails look the same?

Guru Baba had powerful hands for a man in his – maybe eighties? Sami recalled when the sage had beaten everyone at arm wrestling at the “Measure your spiritual strength” booth on Arcadia Day. No one could believe the power of the old man.

“Why are you still watching my finger?” said Guru Baba. “Why aren’t you looking at what it’s pointing to?”

Sami was perplexed. “But the cherry blossom has fallen. It’s not pointing at anything now.”

“Not pointing at anything! Not pointing at anything!” Uh-oh, he’d got him mad now. “Not pointing at anything! What’s that big glowing ball in the sky? That satellite of earth moving at one kilometre per second, whose core is formed of iron, sulphur, and nickel, that has water frozen at its poles, whose gravity affects earthly tides and the water in our bodies and brains.”

Sami hadn’t noticed the full moon beyond the cherry tree. It had sat above the lake earlier, and had travelled during the night, but he hadn’t paid attention. Maybe he had fallen asleep.

Guru Baba continued. “The Roman goddess of the moon was Luna. She rode in a chariot yoked to oxen with crescent horns. Her followers were called lunatics. Have you become one of them?”

Sami was very respectful of Guru Baba. It was his honour to be the assistant of one of the world’s leading holy men. Sometimes, however, he’d had enough of his whims and ranting. He said, “Guru Baba, haven’t we watched the moon enough tonight?”

There was a change in the sage’s demeanour. He said, “The more you look at something, the more you will see.”

“Then why can’t I watch your finger? It would be fascinating for me.”

Guru Baba considered this quandary and said, “You can. Go ahead.”

As Sami watched the sage’s finger, it glowed and seemed to disappear. He followed its previous direction. One of the moon’s craters became suddenly prominent. It seemed an eyeball watching him back.

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