Rising in the Eastern Sky: A Review of Hashshashin‘s – nihsahshsaH
Hashshashin (noun) – 1. assassin.
Example: “That bahshtarhd’sh an hashshashin” – Sean Connery (1963).
Each passing day the sun grew larger in the sky. Each passing day you sunk deeper into the sand. You had been tracing the arc of the relentless glowing orb since day one. Originally, there seemed to be little else to observe during the progressively lengthening days. However, some time after commencing this trek several days ago, you began to notice more and more detail in the seemingly desolate vastitude of the desert. What once appeared a lifeless domain fraught with nothing other than ceaseless heat and an overwhelming sense of enmity for Earthly biota was somehow habitable. The undulating dunes actually harboured a variety of unique creatures. Admittedly, you had to remain aware in order to spot them. After finally leaving the frantic blur of the city, the preconceived idea of the external soundscape you previously held had been turned on its head. The distant urban sprawl had become an ever-decreasing drone; it was, in actuality, the desert that offered a unique dynamic. Stopping momentarily, laying prostrate on the radiating ground, you assumed a near-meditative state and observed the surrounding sounds. This was, after all, one of the primary reasons for your journey. The search for the voiceless. A certain intangible purity that you held integral to experience itself. One so often sullied with trite platitudes and absolutes; infected with selves and self.
Contrary to the prevailing modern paradigm, you’d decided not to express this to the others upon your departure. For this was not some new-age egotistical search for “self”. The decision was rather borne out of a life-long intrigue of unfamiliar cultures, long before many rudimentary tenets of their lifestyle became buzzwords and day classes for yuppie scum to fill their inexhaustible free-time with. You’ve since kept interests in such subjects to yourself, so as not to be lumped in with the West’s inherent desire to appropriate any and all interesting foreign culture. Did they feign interest out of guilt for past atrocities? Perhaps they sought the vast swathes of knowledge due to a pre-disposition, nigh on addiction, of maintaining some illusory sense of intellectual superiority? Whatever the case, your desires were entirely separate. Were they any nobler? That’s likely unanswerable. Regardless, after the choice was made to embark from the final transient shanty town, your path was laid out. The last human words you heard were a brief jumble of practically indecipherable third-hand translations from an ascetic local elder. The combination of those glassy eyes peering deeply into the distance and his crooked finger struggling to remain outstretched in the direction you were to take spoke a kind of universal dialect. An innate language all could comprehend.
That was at least 3 days ago. Three days of scorching heat. The body was burnt. However, the mind had only just begun to immolate. The long spells of nothing began to take their toll. Searching for stimulation, the brain continually quested. A rising plume of dust a few dunes over became an event. At first, you reminded yourself that this almost certainly happened frequently. Nevertheless, you remained transfixed. The cloud grew quickly, ascending from the lifeless mass of inorganic grains, forming a spiral. The brown conical entity whirred closer, then farther, only to dissipate as quickly as it arose. For those few minutes, it existed. The very wind which had given it animation had changed, as if on a whim, taking its essence, its spirit. The lingering particulate left in the wake of its departure performing a sort of ritualistic levitation before that ever-present oppressor gravity dragged them down to rest once again. Symbolic of the disintegration of all things; evidently, even in the ostensibly endless empty spaces entropy is in effect.
Another four days had passed. The water you had brought had all but been consumed. As if in submission, the inside of your mouth now reciprocated the parched landscape. This was always going to happen. In an attempt to occupy your mind with anything other than the overwhelming thirst, you recalled the pleasant chatter of the falcon some days ago. The short bursts of shrill chirps had saved you from the taut snare of delirium on day three. Ignoring the obvious cliché, you’d named it Horus anyway. The colours of its plumage were nowhere near as striking as the brilliant lapis lazuli and gold in the ancient depictions of deities, but set against the essentially unchanging backdrop, the bird’s appearance still remained vividly ingrained in your memory, from talon to beak. You remembered how swiftly the serene squawks had shifted sound into something more serious, almost sinister, as the bird swooped steeply on a small swarm of scarabs; their once proud iridescent carapace-like armour offering no safety from the raptor as they scattered for the non-existent shelter. While they clamoured among themselves in an almost aimless fashion, one beetle appeared to stand still and turn its focus upward. Was this simply a tactic to avoid visual recognition? Or could this acquiescence be an exhibition of some latent desire to refrain from further impeding the inevitable encroachment of death? Attributing this level of cogency into the meagre mind and thought processes of a beetle was a sure sign that your own lucidity was suffering at the wrinkled hands of desiccation. While the mental activity offered respite, the brain still shrivelled in the absence of hydration.
The second week was clouded by a hefty hallucinatory haze. Forming a thick blanket from sand to sky, it enveloped your being. The only discernible object that remained was the ferocious sun, drifting on its helical trajectory, it became your sole point of focus. In the final throes of thirst, you could feel your body being overcome with irregularities. Thoughts became somehow even more erratic. Breathing became difficult to regulate. The thumps of the blood pulsing through your neck seemed to wax and wane as if under some kind of eccentric tidal influence. You’d read about these types of symptoms before. Dysrhythmia? Great, it had a name, did it have a cure? Against any remnant of logic, and all you’d learned, you sprinted in desperation. The energy required to keep this for more than 20 seconds at a time was far too great; still, between bursts you manage to maintain a walking pace, albeit directionless to any outside observer. Was there an outside observer to all of this? Were you about to finally find out or simply succumb to the sand? Perhaps you would experience rebirth? If so, would you fly free as a regal falcon? Was the submissive scarab also a former simian who merely wished for the cycle to start anew? Perhaps you’d be fortunate to be spared from the shackles of saṃsāra altogether, sometimes being coaxed back into a fleeting moment of existence through joining an ephemeral spiral of dust.