The historians and exegetes read the Samkhapala story with such neatness. "An act of charity" is the popular interpretation. "Piety driven to altruism." Gigi looks over at her lover for a response, to see if even academia could feel safe with popular belief, and believe the common understandings themselves. "Were there six or sixteen hunters?" Her lover asks, a bit short of breath, as if the matter of academics was not urgent enough, not as urgent as the particular questions. He always likes the specifics, and attending to them. The same way he looks at pigeons, and tries to tell them apart, to point out the snow pigeons from the rock pigeons from the long-tailed mountain pigeons. He looks for colors on their neck, their wings and body, their tails. "So did Samkhapala feel pain, and if so, how much detail was rendered, and was this important at all?" Her lover looks straight ahead into the air in front of him, his eyes fixed in thought. "There were spears in this version, and the nose ring in the other. There were nets and thistle and a human cage in a newer rewriting. I wish they'd all been more graphic, more visual. But that would be asking for too much of the now, and how we like to see things. That would be selfish and imposing, wouldn't it?"
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is the author of I Didn't Know Mani Was A Conceptualist, forthcoming in 2013. He has also edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. Trained in publishing at Stanford, with a theology masters (world religions) from Harvard and fine arts masters (creative writing) from Notre Dame, he is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree Publishing Poetry Prize, among other awards. Desmond is an interdisciplinary artist, also working in clay. His commemorative pieces are housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.