Devadatta and the Arrow Maker
by Tristan Pang, Year 6, 20/5/2012
Under the scorching sun, Devadatta strolled through the marketplace among the wandering people. He squeezed like a snake between the densely packed stores trying to get to the best Indian weapons shop as prompt as possible. A spices shopkeeper who was selling red hot chillies, yellow curry powder, and brown cinnamon sticks shouted out loud to catch the attention of the customers. Another store was displaying gold necklaces and silver bangles on a table of red velvet cloth that caught the eyes of million passer-bys. The aromatic smells of fresh-baked Indian naan bread, the fragrance of the flowers and incenses, the sweat and dung and a thousand other odours wafted towards Devadatta.
Rhythmic shrills of music from far were gradually approaching. The noise was getting louder and louder. It became deafening when it reached the giant golden Buddhist statues where Devadatta was passing. It was a merry marriage procession. It marched across the market and captivated the attention of the bystanders. The immense daily market noise became an ear splitting rhythm of joy and excitement from the procession. Trumpets and horns tooted when blown by the musicians. They were so loud that it seemed like warning for the undesirable invisible spirit to move out of the way.
The goddess-like bride and the princely bridegroom were carried round the village on an elephant’s back. It was painted in red and covered with a colourful rug. It shuffled as slow as a tortoise and moved its head and trunk up and down trying to tell everybody it was the most beautiful elephant in the world.
“You are such a striking elephant, no one would like to fight you during a battle,” mumbled Devadatta.
People danced around to bless the couple for happiness. Ignoring the annoying racket and struggling through the chaos of the market, Devadatta kept striding until he reached the familiar weapons shop. The door chime rang chirpily as he stepped in. He noticed that there was no one at the shop front. He passed the displayed bows, arrows, clubs, and shields. He then entered the workshop. He saw the arrow maker sitting on a wooden stool mesmerised on where the spoke shaft contacted the arrow. He kept shaving the wood without noticing Devadatta.
Devadatta greeted, “Hello, sir.” There was no reply. He repeated, “Hello, sir.” Still, no reply! Devadatta then tapped on his shoulder.
The arrow maker jolted up. He replied quaveringly, “Hello, Devadatta. How can I help you?”
Devadatta asked, “Did you hear the procession?”
“What procession?” he answered hazily.
“The marriage procession has been here for quite some time. I’m surprised that you didn’t hear it.”
“I think it’s because I was completely concentrating on my wood, bamboo and reed arrow. Nothing can distract me.”
“You have your heart in your job. That’s why I keep coming back for your arrows! Can I have two, please?”
The sun was getting hotter and hotter. The crowd was getting bigger and bigger. The party was reaching its peak when Devadatta left the shop carrying tons of arrows. He could not sense the heat, the noise and crampedness this time because he was concentrating on admiring the craftsmanship of the arrow he was holding and the heart of its creator.