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The Varda

The Varda was concerned. It looked out at the scene before it, wasteland, all of it. Stones atop stones atop dry earth. The desolation stretched out as far as The Varda’s eyes could see, and The Varda could see very far – at least on the right side. The left side was nearsighted, but not just in distance.

The Varda had six eyes – two for each head. Each head had different capabilities and most certainly a different personality. The left saw the past, as far back as human history began, but no further. The center saw the present in all its glory and sadness. The right saw the future, shifting and uncertain to human eyes, but solid and sure to The Varda.

The Varda was just that, The Varda. It had no other name. How could it? With three heads and one lion-like body, it was three beings and yet one. This confounded everyone but made perfect sense to it. To name each head was to ignore the very reality of its oneness and unity within itself. It was the very example of cooperation and harmony.

World leaders should have studied it, but didn’t. They might have averted this tragedy.

The Varda was always “it” – never he, or she. How could you determine gender? It did not reproduce, so it had no need for the simple distinctions of gender. The Varda was simply The Varda, and nothing more.

All around The Varda were the cries of pain and confusion. The earthquake had ruined the centuries-old village with its monuments and temples. Shrines were in shambles. Homes were reduced to the clay that they had been built of.

Enough earthquakes had happened in the past three hundred years here that the people had stopped building anything higher than a story for their homes, or out of anything more substantial than packed earth. What was the point? It was easier to rebuild if there was less rubble in the way. Sort out the few meager belongings, set them to the side. Wet the same earth over again, pack it into simple wooden frames, let it set for an hour, pop it out and let it dry. A few days later they could rebuild the house – the same, or different this time. It was like forced redecorating. They had come to accept this as their normal.

It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t normal at all. They couldn’t see this, because of their limited sight. The Varda knew better. With time stretched out before it like a topographic map, it knew the dips and peaks of human history. It knew whether the people it watched were going to have a hard climb up a mountain of difficulty or an easy time of plenty in the valley of content.

Time was flat now, even for The Varda. It didn’t like this, not one bit. In all its aeons of life, it had never felt so blind, so lost. It was missing its one way to guide its people, to keep them safe.

There was no way The Varda could let them know how lost it was. Their pain would only be magnified. It had to adapt, to learn how to see just the now, the present. Right now, all three heads saw only what was in front of them and nothing more.

It had started when the volcano erupted.

Started? Perhaps stopped is better. The three-part vision had turned off silently and slowly, like day fading into dusk. It was so gradual that The Varda didn’t even realize it until its sight was darkness, all flat and senseless. It could see, certainly, but not with the sharpness or meaning or surety that it had known all of its life. This was different.

Now The Varda was just like the people of this land.

Time to rebuild, but this time it would be different. It would have to be.

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