“The Spider and the Mala” (Kindle & Paperback)
When an actress hears the call of the stars and travels ever outward, where will her heart take her when her beloved calls her back to the Earth and the Moon?
Perhaps Aranti fell to earth in a shower of red rain, or perhaps it was just raining on the day she was born during the joyous bustle of Onam. Some historians have claimed with a great sagacity that since her birthday fell on Thiruvonam, her mother’s brow would have been adorned with the special bindi worn on that day, and perhaps the rain or the sweat of her labor would have caused it to run, but others scoff at this. Then again, others dispute she was born in Shravana Nakshatra at all. That she helped to prepare the Eagle for its journey to just those stars is surely another coincidence, like all the others.
Some of the confusion might be because of her wide travels as a young woman, though of course they were as the wanderings of a little bug compared to her later journeys. She worshiped at the temple to Shiva in Vaikom where she was born, and Ettumanoor and Kaduthuruthy, then studied drama in New Delhi. When she graduated, she shared her love with audiences across the world and even the Moon.
One day she danced upon a spiderweb in Chandamama, and her soul fell upward into the sapphire bliss of Earth shining down upon her through the great window above her stage. Some say she never returned; others claim the amethyst bindi she wore turned blue for a lunar night and all who spoke to Aranti in those two weeks were liberated. Whether she brought enlightenment to anyone in those days is certainly debated, but at the very least, the beauty of her visage and her performance surely enraptured many, and she returned to Earth to even greater fame and adulation.
She disappeared for a while, taking refuge from the attention by traveling the Pacific Coast Highway in the Americas and meditating by the sea. As was the custom in those days, she wore a black armband and silenced her social media connections, which said that she did not wish to communicate with anyone for a while—a signal the world had come to respect, though they missed her terribly.
She walked for those parts of the journey that had roads or safe beaches, summoned a drone for the rougher patches, even swam—guided by a friendly fishing boat—across the shimmering warm waters of Mar de Cortés out of La Paz. Long before she reached the cold deserts of Chile, clouds of drones were shadowing her from a respectful altitude. She offered their cameras a gentle smile that her fans found just as nourishing as the food she’d given to the seabirds along her path.
When she reached Ushuaia, she caught a flight back to Tijuana, leaving her armband somewhere along the way. Some say she dropped it in the sea to mark the end of her pilgrimage. Others claim she offered it to a young Chilean boy in the south, before she returned home. One historian insists it was stolen by a seagull somewhere in Oaxaca and she wove a new one out of palm fronds. Whatever the truth, she soon returned to the stage in the Pacific Temple, dancing with amethysts and weaving webs by the sea to capture the moon.
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