This Week’s Chapter Reading in the Clever Little Book V.I.P. Reader’s Circle! Join us on my personal Facebook page – Elaina Davis

7 Dec

13

Chester…the Court Jester”

Of all the places Kay’faas had been in his travels as a seaman, he had never seen a place more beautiful than India. They hadn’t even been off of the Yacht very long, but he was already captivated by the splendor of the place.

From the Himalayas and beautiful beaches, to the many tribes of the east accented by the deserts of the west, most of the roads were paved with a mixture of crushed cobblestone and cement. Then there were others that were as ancient as the land itself, and lined with banana trees. With an abundance of Acacia, Wild Almond and Coconut Palm Trees growing everywhere, there was always some place to find shade.

Looking around at all of the vivid colors, Isabel was equally awe-inspired. Everywhere she looked there were beautiful women dressed in amazing silk Saris! Isabel thought they looked magnificent and had always wanted one herself. She couldn’t wait to feel the fabric against her skin and she was quickly intoxicated by the fragrance coming from an incense shop nearby.

Isabel also found the people to be just gorgeous! Their beautiful hair was dark and lustrous, and their skin looked flawless despite the ravages of the sun. Their demeanor seemed to be warm, open and friendly too.

All around them the landscape was breathtaking and plenteous with picturesque valleys, gushing streams and glorious hill slopes. To their right they saw a waterfall! To their left was a gigantic, ancient temple of some kind being renovated. There were mountainous ranges with tombs carved right into them that were close enough to touch. Everywhere they looked they noticed a statue of some idol that the people worshiped. Fantastic carvings of animals and birds, symbols and reptiles were all around them. Then looking out into the distance they became immediately mesmerized. Kay’faas and Isabel could see the dome of the Taj Mahal Temple. Both their hearts began to beat frantically. They knew the old furnace was hidden there. “What gift will we offer the King Sweetheart?” Isabel asked Kay’faas.

“Not to worry Darling,” He said. “Leave all of that up to me.”

From the sound of it one would have sworn that Kay’faas had a well thought out plan, but he really didn’t. He noticed a little shop nearby that had Saris hanging in the window. They were beautiful and he knew that Isabel would enjoy trying them all on. It was the perfect reason to excuse himself for a while. He needed time alone to scout out the place, and to get his plan together.

“I’ll tell you what,” he told her. “Why don’t you go inside here and try on some Saris? I’d really love to see you in one, and I want to have a look around anyway. I’ll meet you back here in two hours Sweetheart.” he said.

“Are you sure we should split up Darling?” Isabel asked him concerned.

“It’ll be fine,” Kay’faas assured her. “I just want to check out a few things, and I know you’re anxious to start shopping.”

He handed Isabel a stack of Indian Rupees. “Put these into your bag Darling, and don’t sit it down for any reason,” he warned her.

He had exchanged some U.S. Dollars for Rupees while having his permits validated at the port. Pointing a few doors down to a restaurant Kay’faas said, “I’ll meet you there in two hours. If I’m a little late don’t be worried. Just wait for me. I’ll surely be back for you.”

And Isabel was worried, but then a quote came to her mind from her special book that comforted her. It said, “…though it tarry wait for it, because it will surely come and will not tarry.”

She felt better and quickly became excited again. “Do hurry back Darling,” she told Kay’faas.

“I’ll be back before you can miss me Sweetheart,” he said and he dashed off in the opposite direction.

It was true what Kay’faas had said. Isabel was very excited to start shopping! She wandered into the little shop and fell in love! All four walls were covered with luxurious silk Saris. Isabel was glad Kay’faas had gone off on an adventure of his own. She knew it might take her even longer than the two hours to try on enough Saris to finally choose one. A young woman saw Isabel, and came over with a brush in hand.

She sat Isabel down and began brushing her graying hair. Isabel noticed that all of the other women in the shop had their hair pinned up one way or another. She figured it was mandatory before trying on Saris so she sat there feeling pampered and enjoying herself. She hoped they weren’t offended by the way she was clutching her bag. Kay’faas had made her leery by warning her not to sit it down. Everyone looked so friendly and nice, but she thought it better to be safe than sorry. Of course they had already figured her to be a tourist. And how would she explain to Kay’faas that someone had picked her pocket, after he had already warned her? Isabel laughed to herself just thinking of it.

While she enjoyed herself shopping, Kay’faas was busy looking for an ally, someone who could take him to the Taj Mahal Temple and show him around. He noticed that many of the men wore a little hat called a “Taqiyah.” He decided to get himself one so he didn’t stand out. Although he hadn’t been there since he was a young man, Kay’faas was a native of Nepal.

Nepal bordered Uttar Pradesh to the North. So other than the way he was dressed, he looked just like any other man from the region. As he walked along a cobblestone road, Kay’faas noticed a gentleman standing in front of an easel. The man was painting a striking portrait of the Taj Mahal Temple. Kay’faas had seen many renderings of the Temple but no one had captured it in the way this painter did. Kay’faas was drawn to it and stopped to have a closer look.

“That is magnificent!” he told the man of his painting.

“Oh, I guess it’s okay,” the man answered looking un-enthused.

“Okay?! Your painting does a fabulous job depicting the beauty of one of the most famous places in the world!” Kay’faas said.

“I imagine there are far more famous places,” the painter replied.

Kay’faas thought to move along, but he felt compelled to talk to the man. “To paint an image this remarkable, surely you have some passion for the Temple,” Kay’faas insisted.

The man stopped painting and turned to Kay’faas. “I don’t have any passion for the Temple.” he said. “People flock here from all over the world just to see it, but I couldn’t care less about it. I’ve painted thousands of portraits of it, simply because it’s the only place I’ve ever been.” the man explained.

Then he began rinsing his brushes in water and packing them away. As Kay’faas stood and watched, the man removed the painting from the easel. He held it out in front of him looking at it and shrugged his shoulders.

“I guess its okay,” he said. “Be sure and give it ample time to dry.” He handed the painting to Kay’faas, folded the easel and placed it under his arm. Then he walked away.

“Hey, let me pay you for it at least!” Kay’faas called after the painter.

“It’s quite alright!” the man shouted back. “More than likely, I’ll be painting another one just like it tomorrow…”

Kay’faas soon lost sight of the man as he was engulfed by the crowd of people walking this way and that. He decided to go back and meet Isabel. Kay’faas couldn’t wait to show her the painting. He knew just where he wanted to hang it too, over the fireplace in their bedroom on the Yacht.

When Kay’faas arrived at the restaurant he looked all around but he didn’t see Isabel anywhere. He was a little early though. He figured maybe she was still at the little boutique enjoying herself. Then he spotted her. There she was, sitting at a table looking gorgeous! Isabel had her hair pinned up beautifully and she was wrapped in an astonishing silk Sari. Kay’faas felt like the luckiest man in the world, and he was.

“My, you look stunning Darling!” he said walking over and kissing Isabel on the cheek.

“That’s so sweet of you Honey,” Isabel replied blushing. “I’m glad you like it.”

“I love it!” Kay’faas said beaming. He’d never seen a woman look so ravishing. At that moment he decided, that he would never let Isabel out of his sight again. As he sat down with her, Isabel noticed his painting.

“My, that’s a striking portrait Darling,” she said. “Where did you get it?”

Kay’faas had forgotten all about the painting for admiring Isabel. “Oh, I met an artist today,” he told her. “We talked for a while, and as he was leaving he gave me this.” Kay’faas said.

“For Free?!” Isabel asked in shock.

“Yes, for free,” Kay’faas responded. “I offered to pay for it but he wouldn’t take the money.”

Then Isabel noticed something peculiar about the painting. “Look here Darling,” she told Kay’faas. “Why do you suppose the artist concentrated so much gold paint here at the base of the temple?” Kay’faas hadn’t noticed that.

You’re right Sweetheart,” he said. “Of all the images I’ve seen of the Temple, no one has ever done that. And I remember the man said that the Temple was the only place he’d ever been.”

That’s strange.” Isabel said.”

“Yes, I thought so too,” Kay’faas replied. “Maybe tomorrow we can find him and ask a few questions.”

“It’s certainly worth a shot,” Isabel replied.

She and Kay’faas liked the look of the restaurant so they stayed for lunch. They shared a dish of one of Kay’faas’ favorite meals: Rotisserie chicken, with mashed potatoes and corn.

Then for the rest of the day, Isabel and Kay’faas took in the sights of the town. They found a little day spa and Kay’faas got a massage as Isabel sat and watched. The old seaman’s joints felt so much better afterward. When the night fell the city was all aglow with lights. It was so romantic. Even if they never found the old furnace, Isabel and Kay’faas felt young.

Isabel looked just as stunning as all the other women as she walked along draped in her beautiful Sari. Even more so, and Kay’faas was so proud to have her on his arm. He had spent his whole day enjoying his love. He decided he’d worry about finding the old furnace tomorrow.

Isabel was starting to enjoy the night scene in India. However Kay’faas didn’t like having her out late. He decided it was time for them to return to the Yacht. Once back aboard, he made sure to lock up and he and Isabel prepared for bed.

Kay’faas beamed with pride as he hung his new painting over the fireplace. Then he stepped back to admire it hanging there. As he looked at the multiple streaks of gold the painter had placed at the base of the temple in the portrait, he was hopeful. There was only one reason he could think that the painter would have done that.

He decided to lie down, and took his place in bed beside his love. It didn’t take Isabel long to drift off to sleep. She’d had a very exciting and busy day. Kay’faas on the other hand was wide awake, staring at the ceiling and hoping he could find that painter in the morning. He hardly slept a wink all night.

Although he was happy Isabel had enjoyed herself, he knew he had to get down to business. He had to find that old furnace so that he and Isabel could be young again. It was the reason they had traveled all this way. That next morning Kay’faas and Isabel got up early.

They were both excited to find that artist and ask him if he knew anything about the furnace. They showered quickly, got dressed and headed down to the town center where Kay’faas had his encounter with the man. The closer they got to town, the more they began to hear music. There was an Indian Bazaar in full swing and everybody looked to be having a wonderful time!

The Mayor of Uttar Pradesh was standing at the gate leading into the Bazaar. He was handing helium balloons to everyone as they entered. When the Mayor handed Kay’faas a balloon he tied the string around Isabel’s wrist and they entered the fairgrounds.

Isabel became so excited when she noticed an Indian Band playing all of the traditional instruments. She had read about them, but now she was privileged to actually see them. She saw Flutes, Tamburas, Veenas, and Tablas! Some musicians even played Violins, Sitars, and Shehnais! It was like one of her greatest fantasies had come true. Well two of them. She also had Kay’faas in her life. Isabel had always wanted to hear these instruments being played. They were native to India, and to her they represented a huge part of the mysticism behind the place. A man came forward and began to play an instrument called a Chenda and all the people began to clap and dance! Isabel was elated watching them all and she began to clap too! She and Kay’faas were both surprised to see clowns at the Bazaar. There were hundreds of them running around entertaining the children! Some were eating fire, while others walked on stilts. Then there were those busy making animal shapes out of balloons and doing magic tricks.

Isabel seemed to really be enjoying herself and Kay’faas was glad. But he was more interested in finding that painter. He was sure that with such a huge festival going on, the artist would feel inspired to come and paint something. Or at least he hoped so. There were animals at the Bazaar too! Some well-equipped trainers were leading them down through the center of town and even allowing the children to pet them. There were elephants, Bengal tigers, and the one horned rhinoceros! Bringing up the rear was a pair of Asiatic lions that appeared not to even notice all the peacocks strutting around them. Isabel couldn’t believe how calm they were as they walked along together. She thought it was just amazing how all of these very different animals had been trained to co-exist together without even the slightest hint of disdain for each other. It was like they had been reprogrammed away from their natural instincts. She wished that all the peoples of the world could also be reprogrammed away from their many prejudices and unwarranted biases.

The town Mayor announced the close of the day’s festivities, and that it was time for all in attendance to make a wish! This was an annual ceremony that everyone who attended the Bazaar looked forward to. At the start of the Bazaar the Mayor had given everyone a helium balloon. Now at the end of the event as multiple shofars sounded, all the people made a wish and then simultaneously released their helium balloons into the air.

The common belief was that activating their desires all at once, would generate enough power to make the wishes come true. This reminded Isabel of a quote from her special book that said, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by the Great One.”

She thought that since it only took for two people to agree on something to have it come true, how much more if thousands agreed! And as the thousands of balloons began to rise into the air, all the people began to cheer. Isabel and Kay’faas could feel the energy of the people’s faith all around them. They quickly made a wish and then released their balloon into the air too. They watched it as it rose higher and higher and soon it mingled in with all of the others. Suddenly a strange wind began to blow and the balloons all began to swirl around as if caught in a tornado. Seeing this made the people cheer all the more! They were certain that it was a sign that, all of their wishes had been answered! None of them could see this strange wind, but they could hear it so they knew it was real.

This made Kay’faas think back to something he had read in Isabel’s book just yesterday. It had said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with those who are born of the Spirit.”

Then looking a little ways off, he noticed a woman with some children. They were all five standing in a line, in front of a clown. One by one the clown painted their faces. The Bazaar was over and everyone was leaving. But the woman and her children appeared not to care and neither did the clown. As the children got their faces painted they jumped for joy pointing at one another. Isabel and Kay’faas laughed and watched them for a while. Then they walked over. It appeared everyone else had left the Bazaar. There were only a few vendors left, still dismantling their stations.

“You must really enjoy painting faces,” Kay’faas said to the clown. The clown’s eyes never left his work. He just kept on painting the children’s faces.

“Their mother was late getting them here to the Bazaar. The only reason they came was that I should paint their faces. I paint their faces every year. Should I spoil the fun of these little ones, simply because the Bazaar has ended?” he asked Kay’faas.

Then the clown continued painting the last child’s face. When he was done he began to pack away his supplies and made ready to leave the fairgrounds.

“I want to ask you something about that painting you gave me yesterday,” Kay’faas told him. The clown was shocked and so was Isabel.

“How did you know it was me?” he asked. Isabel was asking the same question in her mind. “Under all of this makeup, and in this bulky costume you still know me.” the clown said. “How?”

Kay’faas began helping the clown pack his equipment. “All of the other clowns have long gone home. Yet you are still here painting smiles on the faces of strangers. And you didn’t charge them one dime for all of your work. You wished nothing more than that they be happy. The same thing you wished for me yesterday.”

They were all three silent for a moment. Then the clown began to speak. “…at least you can be happy,” he said.

Kay’faas and Isabel were confused. Then Kay’faas asked him, “And what about you? I noticed yesterday that you seemed down on yourself. Even with all of this talent you have and the beauty it brings to the world, you seem discontented. When you paint wonderful portraits and create masterpieces on the faces of children, doesn’t that give you joy?”

The clown stopped his packing, stood up and looked Kay’faas square in the eyes. “…there is no joy for a fool.” he said. Then he went back to his packing.

Kay’faas and Isabel didn’t know what to think! This man was obviously a skilled artist. Even more so than many acclaimed masters, who had gone to prestigious arts schools for many years. Yet he called himself a fool.

“Why would a man as talented and compassionate as you are, call himself a fool?” Isabel asked him.

“Because it’s true,” he said. “That’s all I’ve ever heard. All my life, for as long as I can remember I’ve been called a fool. Even my father called me a fool when I was very young,” the clown said. “Surely itmustbe true.”

Isabel and Kay’faas were speechless! What kind of father would call his son a fool?!

“Listen,” Isabel said. “Sometimes people say negative things to others, in hopes of turning the attention away from their own empty lives. But that doesn’t make it true.” “But it is true,” the clown insisted. “I am a fool. When I was just a child my mother died and left my father to care for me and my brothers. I was the youngest and we were quite poor. Father worked long hours to care for us all, and he was stressed all the time. So I would practice tricks, hoping to humor him when he came in from work. Not only did father laugh but everyone else who saw me laughed too. They all called me a little fool.

“One day the palace guards came to our house and told father that he should bring me to perform for the King. King Shah Jahan had not long come back from a military conquest. Although his army had won the battle, the King was saddened for some reason and no one was able to cheer him. My father was offered a large sum of money if I could make the King laugh. So he took me up to the palace. Father told me that my days of being a fool were about to pay off, and that he and my brothers would be proud of me. He promised that if I could make the King laugh he would buy me a new bike. One like the well to do kids had. My brothers and I had always wanted one of those bikes.

“I was given a colorful little suit and a funny hat to wear and then taken in before the King. I clowned, flipped, sang, and contorted my body in all kinds of ways. I did every trick I had practiced until finally the King burst into laughter. The more I clowned the more he laughed. The more he laughed the more I clowned. So my father was paid the money and unbeknownst to me, he gave permission for me to be reared in the palace from that day forward.

“I never saw my brothers or my old home again. And needless to say, I never saw my father again, nor the new bike he had promised me. I was only five years old at the time. Imagine a little kid thrust from his home like that, seemingly to me now, all for the money. It must have been quite a sum for my father to abandon me that way. At least I hope it was. I hope it provided a better life for him and my brothers than I had. Each day I stared out of a tiny little window hoping to see my father or my brothers coming for me…but they never did. Naive of me I guess. After all, I was nothing but a fool.

“The palace life was quite a change from what I was used to. But after a while I got adjusted to it. Every day like a little monkey in a suit, I was paraded before the King and his Nobleman. And every day, as my heart broke again and again, I was forced to clown and they all laughed at me. Sometimes they jeered and hurled things at me, but I just ducked and continued to clown for their enjoyment. They would point and shout insults at me, and I just kept on clowning to satisfy them. Year after year I amused them with my buffoonery and they all laughed. Soon the King changed my name from “Charles Jr.,” to “Chester…the Court Jester,” and that is how I have been called since. Now if you are through with me, it is almost dinner time at the palace,” Chester said. “I will need to be upon my job in the King’s Court immediately after.”

Again, Isabel and Kay’faas were speechless. But as they pondered it, they knew this man’s plight wasn’t so uncommon in the world. How many people go through life clowning and dumbing down to appease others, when they really have genius inside? How many countless others mask how they truly feel for one reason or another? How often do we laugh at things that we don’t really think are funny? Why, we even endure the company of people whom we know we’d rather not have around us.

All for fear of what they might say, if we tell them that we don’t enjoy them. It seems that what you see is never truly what you get. But it should be. Even still, Kay’faas felt it almost criminal to ask now, with all he had just heard. But he had to know if Chester knew about the furnace.

“Look,” Kay’faas said. “I’m sorry your life went the way it did. I really wish it would have been different for you.”

“Oh it’s quite alright,” Chester said. “I’m a Professional Fool now! After all, repetition is the mother of learning. I’ve played the fool for so long, that it just seems normal for me now. I don’t even have to think about it anymore. Whenever I’m called on by others… it just happens. If there were a license for foolery, I would surely hold one. I’ve spent many years degrading myself to perfect my craft. Using humor to mock and joke without causing offense. Amusing courtiers and monarchs with my antics and wit, having them succumb to my charms. Foolery is no easy task, you know? The King even gave me a name tag, a distinctive title and some letters behind my name.”

Isabel and Kay’faas couldn’t help but think about the countless others in the world, who had subscribed to the same philosophy. Feeling like a name tag, a title or some letters behind their names made them superior in some way. They laughed to themselves just thinking of it.

“I need to ask you something about that painting you gave me,” Kay’faas told Chester. “You used a concentration of gold paint near the base of the Temple that is not common in portraits like yours. Do you mind telling me why you did that?”

Chester paused for a moment and then he answered. “One day when I was a small boy, I was wandering through the temple and stumbled upon a secret room. In that room I saw an old furnace, and it looked to me like the workers were using it to make sheets of gold. When they noticed me there, I was punished severely and told never to go there again. They said that was no place for a fool. I never did venture down that hall again, but in my paintings I sought to immortalize what I saw that day,” he said.

“I had never seen a furnace like that one. And I heard talk that it was transported by the King from some distant land. I only saw it once and I never saw it again. But I can still picture it in my mind. It was quite spectacular watching them as they worked, truly unforgettable.”

Isabel and Kay’faas could both feel their hearts beating faster in their chests. “Unfortunate for you then, but very fortunate for us now,” Kay’faas said. “Isabel and I have traveled very far to find that old furnace. It can only be our destiny to have met you. Will you take us to that room?” He asked.

“It’s been many years now. I don’t know if I could even find it,” Chester said. “And besides it would be dangerous. The corridor leading to that room is always heavily guarded. No one is allowed to pass except the King,”

“Well then, will you take us to the King?” Isabel asked him. Chester thought for a minute. “I’m afraid that’s not possible either,” he said. “The King has become very mysterious over the years. He never comes to his throne room anymore. He never even goes in to see the Queen. When he wants to be amused he summons me to the court. Then he sits atop a high platform and watches me down below. If I hear him laughing above, I know he’s pleased. If not, then I know I must try harder. And he’s always draped in a robe that covers him from head to toe. No one has seen the King face to face in many years,” Chester told them. But then he remembered something… “The King does take a stroll alone in the rose garden at dawn. He’s done so since I was a small boy first coming to the palace. Everybody knows this, but no one would dare impose on him there. Perhaps tonight I can leave the gate open. But you must be there at dawn or you will have missed him,” Chester said. Isabel and Kay’faas nodded their heads in agreement. Then Chester went on his way. 

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