A ride through the Nepali Terrai into India:
KTM to Nepalgung (Indian border) – 508 km
KTM to Gonda (India) – 636 km
Kathmandu to Mugling Bazaar – 110 km
Mugling Bazaar to Narayanghat – 34 km
The story so far:
Mr Felix continues his search for the lost divine spark. After a ride down through the mountains out of Kathmandu, he’s stuck in Narayanghat with a bad flu and a state of mind that’s approaching terror. He’s been down to the internet café to read about Dante’s Inferno and has chucked away his dope. Night is closing in, he is laying on his bed and things are rapidly coming to a head.
Part 8: The Mineshaft!
I am falling, falling down a mineshaft. I look back up towards the light and see the world of the familiar slipping away.
Below me I can see nothing. I am alone, hurtling downwards inside black fear.
“You’ve done it now, boy!” I say to myself, and I know with a cold certainty that whatever is at the bottom of this shaft is what I’ve been chasing for decades.
There’s a hard nut forming in the centre of my chest and it’s pushing its way outwards through my sternum. I wince with the pain and crouch forward as I fall.
I talk to myself: “There will be no way back. How bad do you want this? What the hell's at the bottom of this shaft that attracts you so?”
When I was at high school, many years ago, getting all set for a life of successful boredom, I had a dream about a Great White Horse.
In the dream I was a young boy, cradled lovingly in my father’s arms. We were in a green field and my father was standing, with me in his arms, by the entrance to a deep mineshaft, looking across to a big white draft horse that stood across the way.
“See that horse over there, Felix?” he said. “Your job is to climb on to it and try and get to the top!”
I looked across at the Great White Horse (for that seemed to be its name) and saw that it was surrounded by men, some of who I knew, and all of who were trying franticly to climb onto the horse and get to the top.
There were men hanging on to its sides, men hanging on to its tail and some were even clamping themselves upside down to its belly.
All the while the great beast stood stock still, turning its head every now and then, flapping its ears and flicking its tail, but ignoring the men. It was as happy and content as a Hollywood movie star on opening night.
The most successful men were sitting in a tight line on the great horse’s back, but they were also franticly pushing and shoving at each other and standing on the faces and heads of the men further down, who they attacked without pity.
The whole scene was one of chaos and desperation, and some men, the losers, the weak ones, were standing around disconsolately on the ground, waiting for an opening, or simply having given up.
But the most alarming thing of all was the man sitting on the Great White Horse’s head. He was obviously ‘the king’ because he wore a crown, which was made of tissue paper and coloured red, similar to what children wear at birthday parties.
He was small, wiry and nervous, lashing out repeatedly at those behind and below him, and he smelled of something rancid, something bitter. If he was a king, he was sitting on an uncomfortable thrown indeed, and he reminded me of a monkey.
I see a lot of monkeys in Asia, and I'm extremely wary of them. They can be vicious, unpredictable and opportunistic. They hunt in packs, attack without warning and act without reason; none that I can make head or tail of anyway. I avoid them, always.
“Climb up on that thing?” I thought to myself doubtfully, and with growing alarm.
I studied the horse for a few minutes looking for a path through the men, and I figured I could make it about half way up the beast’s side if I worked hard, and then, I guess, I’d have to hang on to its mighty flank for the rest of my life and hope nobody further up stood on my face.
But there was something even more disturbing. I felt sorry for the lot of them, even the vicious ones at the top, even the mad king. It was a half-life, a half-truth they were living, and it had driven them all half-crazy.
“Surely there’s more to life than this?” I thought. “Surely there’s a bigger truth to be lived?”
Just then my father interrupted my silent reverie and said, soberly: “But whatever you do, Felix, win, lose or draw, don’t go near that hole!” and he pointed to the entrance of the mineshaft at our side.
I looked down at this black hole in this bright green field of men’s labour, and back at the horse, and back at the hole, and felt myself slipping out of dad's warm arms.
I am hurtling downwards into the black.
The pain in my chest is persistent, relentless, and fear is turning cold. An icy hollowness is clawing at me, struggling upwards from my feet, snapping at my belly.
What’s at the bottom of this shaft? Death? Or worse... madness? A monster? A life of hopelessness?
Just then I know I can pull out. I can stop this freefall with a simple act of Will. I have a moment of doubt, and this is the slipperiest fear of all - the yawning fear of failing myself.
I struggle to get a grasp. I’ve come too far to turn back now and it’s cost too much. Home does not exist. I am alone.
Quietly, slowly I come back to myself. “Fuck it!” I whisper. “Let’s do it and be damned.”
There’s a sudden, sharp stab of pain in my chest, and I clench my jaw and curl into a ball. I can’t take any more, and I'm about to break.
I groan, and hear the nut in my chest crack open and it feels like a bone breaking, and out slides a small piece of white tissue paper, and I watch it float quickly away.
And out of nowhere, because it's the last breath I've got, I say the words: “Oh, Jesus, help me!”
Immediately, I feel a breath from behind and I hear the words, right in the centre of my head, clear and strong: “The Truth is in Surrender!” and without thought I arch my head back, open my arms and give in to my Fate.