The Vaanar Who Flew

Hanuman sat up abruptly and realised with relief he was not falling from the skies. He had never been a light sleeper. Quite the opposite in fact. Until a few months ago, when life was predictable, even his afternoon naps had been legendary. Then the two princes turned up at Rishyamukh Mountain and things changed.

Ever since his leap to Lanka and back, he had been particularly twitchy. Even last night, he had woken up after an uncomfortable dream involving Singhika, the sea demoness he had to fight and kill on his way to Raavan’s land. Besides, he always felt like a fool sitting up sweating and breathless in the centre of a camp full of snoring vaanars.

Taking care not to step on any of the leisurely spread out vaanar tails, Hanuman made his way to the edge of the cliff and sat down with his feet dangling down. He couldn’t see Lanka from this distance, but he knew it lay that way.

As he stared at the black waters, his eyes glazed over and his mind went back to the amazing month immediately behind him.

They had arrived at the end of Bharatvarsha in their search for Sita. The good vulture Sampati had chanced upon them and had pointed across the sea in answer to their quest.

Then Jambavant of the bhallukas had freed him. In these early hours of the day, that afternoon from weeks ago seemed like a dream. Had he really done it? Had those limitless powers really been sleeping within him all his life? Or was it merely Jambavant’s magic?

Truth be told, Hanuman still didn’t feel anything more than vaanar. From what he knew, vaanars didn’t fly – let alone leap across the ocean into island kingdoms populated only by rakshasas and (here he gasped)… fight them.

He breathed deep once and allowed himself a chuckle as memories of a burning city came to his rescue. There was no denying that he had really done it.

He dangled his legs to come to terms with his new reality. An early morning chill was beginning to set in. The cold wind whispered in his ears.

“Pranaam Pitashree,” he said gently.

Vaayu, his fabled father and the wind god, caressed his form fondly and told him he was special and he was loved.

Having the wind god for a father is unusual. He is an odd parent. Never around and yet always there. With a million things on his mind no matter when you call upon him. Like right now.

“Why can I fly father?” he asked and let the question hang. After a while, the wind ruffled his hair in answer.

Hanuman made a face, “Let me put it this way. Why can’t any other vaanar fly?”

The wind was still for a while. Then it asked why Hanuman thought they couldn’t.

Hanuman sat silent for a while before he spoke again, “Was it Jambavant? What did he do to me?”

In reply the wind lifted Hanuman off the cliff. He hung in his father’s invisible arms, slightly confused but happy nevertheless.

Then the wind spoke to Hanuman, “Jambavant told you you could fly. That is all he did. It was you who believed him.”

Hanuman considered this. He had always believed Jambavant, that most venerable of bears. He couldn’t think of one thing he wouldn’t believe if it was Jambavant who spoke it.

“So any vaanar can fly?” he asked.

“Up to them,” said the wind, and then it was gone. Like so many times before.

Hanuman was sitting at the cliff again. He got up and turned around to face his snoring army – each vaanar lost in fond dreams of his own.

“Raavan will never know what hit him,” Hanuman said to himself.