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A Moment of Self-Doubt


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· Gajandra Meets
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...And so it was that when the young Gajandra had completed his training at the monastery and was awarded his Tantric Intelligence Degree, he set out with his faithful servant Jutu in search of persons to enlighten.

Nine Days he traveled on his faithful elephant until she had to be put to sleep because of a bad ear infection. Nine times nine days did he slave before the masses, enclothed in a lowly waitman's robe, wholly hiding his true Royal nature, and enduring the daily drudgery of less-than-fifteen-percent tips. Nine times nine times nine days did he schlep about from side-show to side-show collecting spare rupees from middle-class lepers and their tanned European attendants.

Silently, he wondered, "When will all of this training pay off?" But never did he let slip a smidgen of self-doubt until one day, when he sat near his carney mirror, swabbing pancake makeup off of his royal cheekbones.

"Dang!" he was rumoured to have uttered, within earshot of his mostly faithful servant, Jutu, "When ahmo git PAID, bitch!"

Silently Jutu crept up beside him. "Master Gajandra?" he enquired, "Did you summon me?"

Startled at having been overheard in his moment of doubt, the young forefather-to-be quickly swung his head around to face Jutu. "Oh... it's you, Jutu... I was... uh... I was just trying out a new routine for the side-show. I call it, 'The Hungry Bumpkin,' and it's about a poor dancer in a far-off land in a place called 'The Catskills.' The young bumpkin is from a small town called 'Vaudeville,' and he makes his living doing a sacred dance called 'The Old Soft-Shoe.' The line I just recited was from Scene 4 of Act I, in which the young Nesbit recants his trials and expresses with woe his exasperation at being talented and yet un-rich in his chosen field."

"Very interesting, Master. And how is it that this young 'Nesbit' character has achieved this victory?"

"What? Victory? You misunderstand, Old Jutu. His is not a victory, but a defeat. He has been working hard at his craft for many years, and yet he still has not received material rewards for it."

"Yes. And so he has succeeded."

"No, no no--he has failed! He is still slaving away at his dancing routine, and yet he possesses no harem, no lustrous gems, no well-apportioned Greenwich Village flat."

"Master Gajandra, may I ask you a question?"

"Certainly, Jutu."

"When your Aunt Tipitina grew to become 50 years old, was it a victory or a failure?"

"Well, a victory, I suppose."

"And why is that?"

"Well, many people never live to be so old as that. Even Great Kings usually die long before reaching such an age in this epoch of history."

"And so, what villain had she defeated?"

"What a strange question, Jutu."

"Nevertheless, one that ought be answered, yes? Whom did she beat? Not the Great Scatoman, as you yourself have defeated? Surely she did not defeat the Curse of the Six Monkeys?"

"No... Well, the thing that she beat was... the odds, Jutu. She beat the odds."

"I see. So then, by the mere act of having lived for one more day, your Aunt Tipitina defeated a villain so powerful as to have laid waste to most of mankind!"

"Well, yeah, in a manner of speaking."

"Even though she never became famous and wealthy from the macrame that so absorbed her days and nights?"

"Yeah, that macrame never got her anywhere."

"So then has your character, Nesbit, achieved a great victory, by having slaved at his art for so long."

"...even without ever being recognized?"

"Especially without ever being recognized."

"Hmmmm. Thank you, Old Jutu. Your wandering questions have given me cause to continue slapping my big floppy clown shoes on the stage of the side-show for just one more day."

"That'll be 295 rupees, Master."


"Wisdom don't come cheap, you know."

"Jutu, I could never deliver such a defeat to you by actually paying you for your efforts."

"Thank you, Master Gajandra."

"Now go and toast me a bagel, will you?


— Mehshur de Gupta Härē-shyo

Mehshur de Gupta Härē-shyo was a 17th-century comedy writer from the Himalayan plateau. His Gajandra inscriptions were discovered in 1953, translated into English in the 1970s, and finally transcribed into HTML near the close of the 20th century.

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