Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirty-nine 


 

In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome

and his brother Joshua beside him

Hellmantle could hardly sleep because of such keen anticipation of biking through Srinagar. Or it could have been the thought he was having from the geiger. After breakfast and tea, Ramazon, Hellmantle and D'Aqs set out to Canyar on bicycles. Cycling past the University of Kashmir with the awesome site of mountains so steep that they looked like enormous rock walls that were obstructions for passing satellites. Ramazon led the way as they rode to the old part of Srinagar. Down an old street with brick buildings and rustic wood shutters on the windows, the three of them stopped where there was a small white building with green trim. It stood surrounded by a little green iron fence. There was a sign in Arabic and Indian. The sign was sheltered by a sprawling old tree.

"What does it say?" asked Hellmantle.

        "The sign says ‘it was here where Jesus the Nazarene the Prophet lies buried along with His disciple Jude Thomas,'" Ramadan said.

        "Interesting it is ‘the Nazarene' and not ‘of Nazareth,'" Hellmantle said to his cousin. "Nazareth didn't even exist at the time Jesus lived. It came into being over a hundred years after His death."

"Another fallacy."

"Yes." Hellmantle opened the little gate and walked to a small open doorway where an old lady sat with a young boy beside her. He nodded at them when they looked at him and then to D'Aqs. Hellmantle read the message and remove his shoes. Walking inside Hellmantle and D'Aqs saw why the Muslims had made it into a shrine. There were half a dozen women wearing veils in deep prayer at one end of the tomb. And the tomb itself was odd: there were two small wooden coffins about six feet by one-and-a-half feet each that laid at either end under a long coffin-shaped canopy. The two coffins were protected from hand contact by a wood and glass case built over the original grave.

One can see that it was still the original site because there were three separate stones that surrounded the two draped boxes. One stone was old clay mold of where Jesus left his footprint. It was at the west end where the bones of Jesus rested in the small wooden box draped over with a green cloth. It was conspicuously bigger than Thomas's box of bones. The coffin of Saint Thomas was covered in a gold-colored fabric. It was here where there iwas a remarkable part of the site. Right beside the coffin of Thomas was a curved stone the size of a tombstone that was a sculpture of Thomas or Jesus as an old man.

Hellmantle knelt down closer to the face.

"It looks like Jesus," he said. The moustache dominated the landscape of the sculpture's face, and his head had been cut according to how he wore his hair: long and parted in the middle. In this gravestone the top of the hair was triangular with his middle part being the apex. The eyebrows were raised seriously and the cheekbones were wide. The cheeks were hollowed and a flowing beard that met the ground at the base of the tombstone encircled the face. The feature of greatest interest for Hellmantle was the nose: it was round so that Jesus as an old man resembled Santa Claus. The grave was weathered from the elements but its features could still be discerned. The mouth was open as if it was a spot for people to leave messages or prayers.

"See how the black stone has weathered the centuries of heat and cold?" he said to D'Aqs.


"My God, it's true," was all D'Aqs could say.

The gravestone sculpture of the head of Jesus stood about three feet high with the moustache reaching almost a foot in length. It flowed right into the earth. To D'Aqs, the sculpture depicted what he thought a Druid would look like. But of all images of Christ, this one in front of him must be considered one of the only real representations of the man history knew as Jesus Christ.

"And He reached the ripe old age of his mid eighties and spent the last years of His life with His identical twin brother in such a beautiful land," D'Aqs whispered.

There was a third stone right beside the stone face of Jesus, but it was only a flat area with nothing on it. Looking at it, Hellmantle couldn't figure out what it was. Considering Jesus was regarded as a prophet and messenger of God, just as Mohammad was for Islam, the Muslims prayed facing the East when they prayed at Jesus' tomb. The small canopy that covered the aboveground coffins and stones was draped over with a purple fabric rich in hue, which had the first three points written out in Arabic. Hellmantle copied the Arabic down best to his ability into his journal.

Drawn back to the face of Jesus, he crouched beside it, looking deeply into the weathered eyes that stuck out only enough to discern the top part of His eyebrows. The stone depiction of His face showed contentment common to wisdom and inner knowledge. Where His forehead met His hair, there was a little triangle that looks like a mini temple. The way the stone had been cut made the bearded archetype stand out in its own innate power. The cheekbones on the front of His face and His triangular shaped middle part in His hair gave Him a distinct angular form.

Feeling a bit wobbly-legged, they both eventually left the tomb and, with Ramazon, walked stunned through the old streets of Srinagar. Looking back over his shoulder, Hellmantle stopped, lights a smoke and said:

"It looks like this small cement building was built specifically to protect and preserve these three stone markers. It housed Jesus' and Thomas' bones. It is strange that the relics of two great men who have had such a profound impact on the development of the Western thought would be here under this modest roof somewhere Northwest India. How many people walking down the street are aware of the remains of two fathers of a major new movement within the tradition of the Old Testament cannon and religious history as a whole. How can anyone tell what lies inside these in-descript walls?"

"People in Kashmir believe Jesus flies around in the air," said Ramazon. "So if this is true then He has already found me. And He had got inside me. He is in my heart and mind."

"And spirit." Hellmantle nodded at his trusted guide as they mounted their bicycles and rode away from the tombs of Jesus and Thomas.

 

Ω

 

Ramazon led them to the local market and to an old mosque built over 1100 years ago, but Hellmantle's thoughts were on that face with the hollow cheeks and huge curving moustache and the triangular head. A power emitted from the sculpture and its magic still hungs in the air around him and in his mind's eye.

"The Kashmir apple tastes like a candy apple," Hellmantle said at the market, "And if India is a bouquet, then Kashmir is a rose in it."

D'Aqs bought a sweater in the local market, but Hellmantle was despondent. He finally spoke thus:

"The two brothers chose to live where Alexander the Great chose to turn around and end his campaign in the East. Only by seeing this place can that have meaning. Truly amazing the twins were together at death and entry into the afterlife."

After the bike ride back to the houseboat, the cousins both flaked out on the deck, smoked pipes and thought of the face of Jesus.

"Has Ramazon figured out what the Arabic says on the stone yet?" Hellmantle impatient for answers.

"Abid should know."

"I'm only schooled to use the Atbash Cipher. I don't know this Arabic. If we find scrolls I should be able to apply the cipher to breaking the code on the titles of each scroll." D'Aqs doubted Hellmantle's claim but said nothing. If the need arose then he could show his specialized knowledge.

Abid arrived with his geiger and they settled down in the smoking room.

"The Arabic on the stone says ‘Monastery of the Fish,'" he said flatly.

"Monastery!" Hellmantle stood up and walked to the mantelpiece.

"Fish? Are you sure it says that?" D'Aqs disappointed.

        "You must know where that comes from," Hellmantle incredulous.

        "What? From what He said about teaching a man how to fish is better than giving a man a fish?" Hellmantle thought D'Aqs had become physically robust at the coat of mental strophy.

        "The symbol of the early Christians was not a cross; it was a fish."

        "Oh. Yes, I think I knew that."

"Where is it?"

"It is north of here," said Abid. "I asked a friend who knows these things. The Monastery of the Holy Light is maybe two days along the Line of Control."

"Two days!" Hellmantle opened his maps that showed in detail the grade of the terrain along the disputed border with Pakistan.

"How do we get there to the Monastery of Holy Light?" asked D'Aqs.

"Horseback."

"Horseback! Of course! Good call." Hellmantle chipper.

"I know where to get a horse. It's an old pilgrims trail. It is very old," said Abid.

        "We can put it on the bill?" Hellmantle asked. He nodded in agreement.

        "I take you. I get my brother to run this place."

        "Great, we can leave in the morning."

   


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                             
          The Family of the Bible
FIRST PART
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
 
SECOND PART
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
 
THIRD PART
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
 
FOURTH PART
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
 
o       Chronology of Historical Events
   
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