The Sentries of Time

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Dusty light filtered through the gnarled roots of a straggler fig
tree􀀁 illuminating the abandoned nave of the Kmer temple􀀁 􀀄Bayon􀀃􀀅
Perched on the opposing windowsill􀀁 Phnom Penh removed his
sandals and took the bamboo hat from his shaved head􀀃 He slipped
from the aperture and onto the floor􀀁 his orange monks robe rippling
across his dynamic form􀀃 He strode past a procession of square pillars
towards a golden figure
seated cross􀀂legged in the
centre of the room􀀃 He
knelt in front of the
Buddha􀀁 resting his
forehead on its feet􀀃 The
corroded limestone was
cool and in the still
morning air􀀁 Phnom
prayed􀀃 He prayed that he
would be granted his daily
pittance of rice􀀃 He prayed
that the onslaught of
8
looters would cease their robbing of the temple􀀇s sacred treasures􀀃
Most importantly􀀁 he prayed that the chauvinism that divided his
society would cease􀀃
Three kilometers away􀀁 Dylan Claymore stared into the hollow
eye sockets of a skull snubbed to a reclining gum tree by a red
fletched arrow􀀃 Its mouth hung open in a toothless shriek􀀃 Forcing
himself to look away􀀁 Dylan pulled a sleek􀀂lensed camera from his
bag􀀃 He plucked up the conviction to snap a shot of the gruesome
sight􀀃 His second glimpse was marginally more bearable􀀁 though it
still had the unerring ability to send a shiver down his sweaty spine􀀃
A beam of light shone through the cavernous nose􀀁 projecting a
heart shaped silhouette onto the smooth trunk􀀃 Dylan put the
camera away􀀃
He was traveling alone􀀃 He wasn􀀇t exactly a skux but he didn􀀇t
care􀀁 he didn􀀇t have the time or the patience for other peoples
blather􀀃 He used to be a Latin teacher in the small town of Ullapool
along the north coast of Scotland􀀃 After 􀀆􀀄 years of explicating
declension to indifferent students􀀁 he had administered a premature
retirement to travel the world as a photographer􀀁 a job he had
acquired through the nepotism of his uncle􀀃 He had no idea that he
was about to make the discovery of his life􀀃
It was now midday􀀁 and the
summating sun shone across the
nodulated spires of an eclipsed
city􀀃 Angkor Wat had once been
the capital of the ninth century
Kmer Empire􀀃 Even today􀀁 its
􀀅􀀄􀀄􀀄 temples sprawl over an area
larger than Paris􀀁 in the country
once known as Frankia􀀃 The city
is configured as a map of the
cosmos􀀁 with each monument
representing a star􀀃
Phnom walked along the
Bayon gate􀀃 Here the wall􀀂less
city of Angkor was guarded by a
row of stone sentries􀀁 their
shoulders worn by the abrasion
of centuries of squall and deluge􀀃
At their feet stood a foreign man􀀁
gazing incredulously at their
massive statures􀀃 He was not
9
here to barter or to bestow􀀂 He was here to take􀀂 Phnom took a
polished wooden bowl from his sack􀀁 holding it out to the stranger􀀁
gesturing for an offering of rice􀀂 For a long moment􀀁 they looked at
each other􀀂 Finally􀀁 Phnom turned away􀀁 overwhelmed by sadness􀀁
for he knew that the bridge between
then
and now􀀁
here
and there􀀁
had fallen􀀂





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