Eastern Gods

❧ in which Moe is enraged by the theological tactics of the Hindu merchant next door ❧

As if to mock him, Shesha put up a new image of a phallic god on the sidewalk in front of his shop. The young girls just stared at it, while Shesha explained to them that the phallus was a pillar between Heaven and Earth, and that some of these pillars were wider than Marduk's beard. Soon there was a line-up in front of Shesha's shop, and people started disappearing behind a blue curtain at the back. Only later did they slink out of the shop, with the tips of their hats touching their noses.

Shesha became downright arrogant, mocking the claims Moe made in his recent article The Boat on the Hill. Shesha scoffed at puny hills like Sinai. He pointed out that even Moe's beloved Ararat was more than one Sinai's height lower than Chhogori, itself hundreds of cubits beneath the great mother goddess of them all, Chomolungma. He then explained (very pedantically) to Moe that in the Rg Veda Rudra is “the Lord of the Universe” and that his powers were greater than any god’s — even the wise Ea, his magical son Marduk, or the fiery Shamash.

Shesha’s new statue portrayed a god with his arm cupped around the torso of his consort, his middle finger just barely touching her nipple.

Moe’s customers crossed the street in droves.

Beneath the awning and next to his best Kashmiri produce, Shesha put up an enormous image of a snake-god hovering over Vishnu, with his sexy consort at his side.

Below it Shesha carved into the grey stone verses from the Vedas extolling the powers of the snake. These lines had been sung to him by his grandmother over his bed from the time he was an infant to his twelfth birthday, at which time he left Jhukar to join his rich uncle in the plundered city of Mohenjodaro. It was there he met Dhargda, his Dravidian beauty. What did it matter if she was dark as Kali’s nipple? That she was not high-born? That she didn’t know how to do puja in front of Lord Vishnu?

Karshnaz, the Persian merchant next door, was not to be outdone by this brazen display of Indian mythology. He immediately imported an even larger statue of a fertility god, with a giant penis standing erect, bolting the Earth to the Sky. His brother Zardosht (or Zarathustra in his native Avestan language) found this a rather vulgar display, and decided to lend the place a dash of class by putting up a panel of dancing apsaras.

Fornicating nymphs and stone idols! Moe was sure they were lesbian demonesses — corrupt as the men he had seen fondling each other in the backstreet of Sidamu.

What had all his attempts at cross-cultural mythology come to? Thinking back to his article in The Holy Mountain, he began to see that the Mesopotamian mountains and the Indian mountains weren’t the same at all. It was all a sham, this good will and reaching out to foreigners!

The final straw came when Zardosht bought an enormous stone image which was half-man and half-woman.

Moe couldn't keep track of the strange types that went through the blue curtain after that.

Enraged, he went to the front of his shop and tore down the statue of his meditating god. He gouged the inscription from the grey stone. In its place, he chiselled in deep and angry grooves: Climb your own mountain, Zardosht! And take your apples tarts with you!



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