Wordcarpenter Books
Excerpt from Hellmantle Testament
 
Hellmantle's description of the tomb of Jesus
 
(The excerpt begins at the beginning of Chapter 38)
 

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."

  
  

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
  

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