The skies were filled once again with ever-drifting clouds that obscured all light from the world once more. The metal-gray was like the bitter taste in the mouths of the people assembled. The domed form of the Great Stupa stood there in the middle of its construction. But where was the genius Gamini who had financed this building spree? Where was the man who would forever worship and respect?

His eyes were clouded.

His ears were now blocked up as they strained to take in the sonorous chanting in the background.

The heroic chest heaved, as if grasping the sweetness of the air around him for the final time.

The chariots of Tusita were on their way.

The dull aura hung above the world as he lay on his bed. Nothing could heal him. Five hundred figures stood around him, chanting old Buddhist verses. He had asked them to follow him on his wild crusade across rugged terrain. The Sangha of Rohana, and Rajarata had broken their rules when they took part in this escapade. If only he could hear them! The unwise cursed in silence. The wise hung their heads and chanted. What more could they do? It was the job of all five hundred of them.

But there were things that they would never understand.

He had promised them freedom from the alien Chola and his powerful grip. The hero had told them that his life’s mission would be to be the benefactor of the Brotherhood. But words, words they had been! Had he just built those monuments for them, the mighty Maricchavattiya among all other works just to look good in their eyes?

But then he had used them, hadn’t he…?

A few treacherous bhikkus pondered upon this through their chants. Their piercing eyes were on the hero. Still, the clouds drew further in.

A mighty cloud passed overhead. Its formless bulk tried to shut out the last fragments of light that might touch the king’s glassy eyes.

He could be born among them one day, a young, critical monk mused; they would know the truth. The Sangha would never be the same again with his passing.


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