The Edge of Another World

By Pepita Seth

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“Perhaps all this would have been forgotten had it not been for the incident at the tank two or three days later. I had gone there early, when the thin crescent of the new moon offered little light and only a few stars, those sparkling spirits of dead men, shone in the pre-dawn sky. Rain was falling in a constant stream and as I approached the tank all that could be heard was the sting of it hitting the water. Where I saw Arya-edathi. I have never questioned what it was that made me stop and slip quietly back into the shadows to keep my sister from seeing me. She was standing in waist-high water, standing where the rain could fall onto her. Her upper body was bare, her breasts just catching what little light had struggled its way into the sky. Her thick hair was hanging down her back. For a moment she stood like a statue, almost as if petrified by a strange spirit. Then, without warning, she very suddenly broke free of this enchantment and immersed herself three times in frantic, almost desperate haste until, once more erect, she stood for another charged moment, her head thrown back. And then moaned again, the same anguished sound I had heard in our room. A sound that transfixed and mesmerized me. And held me with its tension. And frightened me with its feeling of power and the aura of extraordinary heat that seemed to burn within her, somehow all coalesced with the deliberate way she moved. There was just enough light to see that her eyes were closed, her lips half parted—and that her whole body, her whole being was suffused with a strange bliss, a bliss that seemed to enclose her in a luminous glow. And then she moaned again and threw her head even further back before plunging down into the water, churning it into turbulent motion, creating waves that slapped up onto the tank’s stone steps. Despite this sudden violence it was obvious, as she surfaced, that the tension had left her body. But when she lightly caressed her breasts before moving her hands down over her body, I knew and accepted that whatever force had just been exhausted would return again and again to possess and repossess every fibre of her being.

I hung back in the shadows as Arya-edathi left the tank and returned to the house. I felt drained and, for a few moments, stood quite still, caught up in the spell she had cast over my surroundings. Then I ran down the steps, barely feeling the rain hitting my body as I plunged into the still swirling water, conscious only of a desperate need to erase my mind of all I had seen. My emotions were both clear and confused. I had grasped the disturbing element of my sister’s behaviour but still denied what had caused it. What frightened me was that I had begun to sense another concern, begun to be aware of the terrible, insidious thought that I too would soon become subject to such tensions. I sensed, somewhere I even knew, that the even temper of my own life was about to end. And within this strange knowing was the even more certain knowledge that once I really knew the source of all this energy, we were all going to find ourselves on the edge of something so cataclysmic that our lives would be ripped apart. Forever.’’

– From Book Three, Thattakkutty

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