Near the top they stopped. The sun was dropping rapidly in the Western sky. As if lost in their own thoughts there was no need for words. Each knew that the other was thinking of the days to come. It was deserted now but tomorrow this sacred place would be crowded with people; men, women, children, friends, relatives, all gathered for the last farewell. Nyruda had passed, her body was laid on the bier ready for the ceremonial transition.
At sunrise a procession would wend it’s way from the village to this rock, “The seat of the winds,” with their light load borne on the shoulders of six men, while the monks, women and children followed. There would be chanting, age-old mantras sung in a low drone, while the incense-burners twirled and their fragrance drifted over the plain at the whim of the breeze. It was not a lament but a celebration of one stage of her old life completed in preparation for the new.
A breeze was starting, exposing its presence with a twitch of Gana’s sleeve. In the distance he heard the lone cry of the lammergeier. He smiled, recognising the significance of the call, as if in reassurance that the wild eagles knew they were soon to be summoned and would be ready to help in the sacred task.
Tomorrow there would be many, wheeling and turning, carried high on the updrafts as they circled in readiness for their feast. The flesh would be stripped from the body leaving the white bones exposed. They would not be left long. The more experienced avian attendants would climb high in the sky their bills stuffed and ungainly with stiff, long, bristled moustaches. Like sharp but muffled drumbeats the sound of bones dropping on to the stones below would reassure the departing flock that the ceremony was being fulfilled. It would not be many days before the larger bones could be discreetly removed in accordance with their traditions ready for the final stage. Life would go on.