Sauna

He was lying on his back. He had just opened his eyes. The wind blew. The trees swung gently. Their branches danced like a curtain in an open window. And the leaves whispered in choir. The sun shone. Its rays streamed through the tree crowns high above. And while it all moved in the wind, shadows and blurred patterns were being drawn on the roof of his tent. Once in a while a spider would walk there slowly and silently, on the outside, of course. Or a grasshopper would hop on, it tapped the nylon fabric like if a drop of water fell somewhere from a leaf. Sometimes even a lizard appeared there, crisscrossing the roof in all directions, rushing and confused. And you wouldn’t believe the birds, they produced such unusual sounds, like when a firework rocket takes off the ground, and their tails were long and thin as a knitting needle at the end of which hung the shape of a heart, but upside down. Some birds even had two such tails.

After a while, he reached out for his notebook. He opened it and read. “I’m the embodiment of God. I love myself. I accept who I’m. The world is safe and a friendly place to be. I let go of the past. I’m free and so are they. Everything is alright. My mind is the expression of God’s creativity. I’m willing to grow and change. I control my thoughts in all situations. I leave the day with love and devote myself to a tranquil sleep because I know that tomorrow will take care of itself.”

These lines and many more became a mantra which Checo read aloud each morning in his tent. He repeated this mantra because according to a book called YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE by Luise L. Hay, it would change one’s way of thinking, and mainly, it would heal any kind of disease which, the author says, is the manifestation of unhealthy thinking patterns and programs in people’s mind. In fact, each sentence in the first paragraph referred to Checo’s bad habits which were the result of his less or more serious health concerns. The practice is relatively simple: you replace the old thought with the mantra, and repeat it until you are sure that it is true. This way the sickness has nothing to strive on, it will leave, and you will be healed.

When Checo started with these morning rituals, it at first made him feel like if he was fooling himself. For example, “The world is safe and a friendly place to be,” he read, and immediately he heard the nagging voice in his mind, “Oh, come on! This is not true.” But if thinking this was what made him sick, then he simply had to make the “lie” sound true to him. So he repeated it one more time, and then again and again. The next morning and the mornings after, the voice wasn’t as strong and Checo began to understand that the mind could be trained, and that he could have control over the mind instead of the mind having control over him. It didn’t take a long time when Checo started to believe that what he read was actually true, and hence on some mornings he was deeply moved.

Checo’s own tent was very small. The sleeping space was nowhere as big as the size of a regular single bed mattress. But at least, it had an entrance hall where it was possible to store some luggage. He built the tent far from the community’s center, about a week ago, deep in between tall trees. As he was looking for his spot, he learned that the community covered an area of roughly one football field. It was kind of a little village with canvas tents and small wooden houses. And the whole place was interwoven with narrow paths that meandered around the trees and houses like mountain streams.

This morning was, however, not Checo’s happiest. He still needed more time, more patience and discipline. He was again bothered by the very familiar pain in his throat, like if a dumpling was stuck there. He also had diarrhea, his stomach hurt, too, and on top of that, something started to crack in his knee. “Why there always have to be pain?” he asked himself like if pain was something stronger than him, and it could come whenever it pleased.

Breakfast was usually served at around 8 or 8:30 a.m., and it was always announced by the loud blow on the seashell as well as lunch and diner. You could easily hear it across the whole place. They served pancakes, oatmeal, sometimes granola, and it was all accompanied by large portions of fruit. There were bananas, papaya and lots of mangoes. The pancakes were delicious. One morning fat and small like chubby cheeks of a baby, and another, thin and wide crepes like the circle of one’s breath on a frozen glass. They were often with jam, or honey, or occasionally banana puree mixed with peanut butter.

Checo couldn’t enjoy the breakfast today as much as he did the previous days. Especially when he swallowed the fruit, his belly puckered like the dry raisins in the oatmeal. It started the day before, right in the center of his body, behind his diaphragm, he felt the stinging pain. How could the clean fruit hurt him? No, this is impossible. This is not normal. He thought. He also refused the idea because he saw that everybody around him was enjoying the food. It was only his problem, he concluded, and so he had to deal with it on his own. But the people were an inspiration. And so, Checo decided to simply eat the tasty fruit like they did, regardless of his pain. He was very confirmed in this decision. The healing process had to start somewhere, and it was right here. “Everything is alright,” he repeated his mantra.

After breakfast, Checo changed clothes and went to work. When he saw the carpentry workshop for the first time, he was both shocked and surprised. Shocked because it was incredibly disorganized and messy, and surprised because in all the mess, there were still some good tools and even carpentry machines. There was a table saw and a planer! However, the machines required a more powerful energy supply, which was not available, and so Checo was restricted to use only the electrical hand tools which were powered by a small generator.

Here, Checo was getting more acquainted with the guy whom he saw naked on his arrival day. The boy spoke almost zero English and because Checo spoke zero Spanish, the two managed to understand each other using only single words and simple phrases. It worked. The guy’s name was Cosme. He helped Checo clean the workshop right on his first working day. Cosme was a resident in the community. He did all kinds of work, but he usually started his day in the carpentry. He was young and energetic, a good-hearted rascal, wearing the most colorful T-shirts. Cosme appeared to be happy all the time. And he really smiled a lot.

Mauricio came to the carpentry each morning, too. But it was solely for the purpose of smoking weed with Cosme. The two didn’t start their day without it. Checo wasn’t sure yet what role Mauricio had in the community. But this man was so interesting, and crazy. Checo couldn’t let his eyes go off him. Mauricio was often almost completely naked. And if he wore some clothes, it would be the most provoking pieces. Today, for example, it was a pink laced mini skirt. It was loose, and it waved around his ass like the feathers of a peacock’s tail. Of course, there was no underwear under the skirt, so it really was Mauricio’s only esthetic choice.

Another man who was coming to hang out in the carpentry workshop with the boys was the shaman. Kakanka was his name. He was also very modest regarding his outfit. Compared with Mauricio, he was, however, more sophisticated. He wore a stylish loincloth, a purse on his shoulder, and he was always barefoot. His appearance really made you think that he came somewhere from a tribe in the Amazon. He was Mexican, but white like a European.

There was also one more man who came to the carpentry regularly. That man was David, a Mexican as well. But more about David later.

Everyday, while Checo had already been working, he watched and listened to the guys with great interest. They talked lively. Laughing and joking a lot, they were at all times ready for some monkey business. You could tell they were good friends. Checo wasn’t yet a part of their morning sessions, and he didn’t understand what they were talking and laughing about, but he already was laughing with them anyway, because just being around these people made Checo feel somewhat relaxed and joyful. And they were very friendly to him. They always greeted him with the fist knock. “Slow life, bro,” Cosme said the first time and showed Checo his fingers on which the letters of the word “slow” were tattooed separately. “Hola, bro. Good morning. Take it easy, OK? This is the time to relax,” Mauricio said with a hearted smile, and sooner or later he would invite Checo to smoke with them, but Checo kept refusing politely.

Checo’s first project was to make two bedside tables, normally an easy job. But it wasn’t so. He was limited with tools. He had to share the generator with other guys who needed it, too. The surroundings were also rather harsh at the beginning. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge was to change and adjust the mind to the type of work and environment. “You are most probably used to working to a high standard, you do fine work. But here it is all done simply and quickly. Look around here, it functions but if you look at it closely, you will see it’s not precise, it’s not straight and so on. It’s rustic,” Keshet told Checo on the first day. Checo appreciated that he was told this, but he had no idea how hard it would be to let go of what he was taught in the school. He didn’t even realize that he just went on with what he was used to doing. He was worried by screws being seen, so he asked Keshet for glue. Or he didn’t like the wood being so rough, therefore he sanded it until it was polished like glass. Or he focused too much on using the big machines whereas it could quiet easily be done with the hand tools. Hence, the work all took longer than Checo thought and Keshet soon pointed that out. The mind really is programmed like a computer.

Lunch was normally called at around 1 p.m. Checo took care to arrive in the kitchen among the first ones because it guaranteed the best available food options, and also, he would not have to wait in the queue. Then, he would take a seat somewhere at the end of the bench or where there still hadn’t been too many people. The food was more or less the same as in the evenings. Again, Checo often added some more salt. But it was fine.

Checo hardy ever initiated a conversation. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t want, but he was still rather shy. There were, nonetheless, so many people in the community that in a minute somebody would sit next to him, or opposite him, and he or she would ask something. Once that had happened, Checo was happy to respond.

The kitchen was, by the way, the place where most volunteers were needed. They took turns. All volunteers were supposed to work 5 hours 5 days a week, plus a three-hour help in the kitchen on weekends. That weekend help was, however, something Checo didn’t know about because it was not mentioned in the Workaway profile. He instantly didn’t like the extra hours, but he didn’t protest. The full-time volunteers then had free meals and accommodations. There were also part-time volunteers who worked only 3 hours 5 days a week. Those folks could stay in Keshet’s tents for free, but they had to pay for the food. The last group were the guests paying both the food and lodging.

After lunch, Checo always worked for another hour or two, depending on what time he started in the morning. In the first weeks, though, he actually sometimes worked more than six hours a day. He didn’t have to, of course. But he was interested. Despite the hard conditions, he still enjoyed the work for a number of reasons. First, he had complete freedom of how he would make the product. He could use whichever material he thought was good enough. He could pick up a dry branch of a tree, remove the bark and start shaping it to his liking. And that was what he did. Second, he could improvise a lot, he could even experiment. All of this freedom enhanced the sense of his creativity. It was an adventure, an exploration of his mind, a learning experience. Never ever he had so much freedom, because in a regular job the majority of his work was ruled by other rules and people who were ruled by other rules and people and those people, obviously, were ruled by other rules and other people.

Finally, Checo started to feel better, thank God. And right after diner, somebody played music from the speaker in the kitchen which resulted in everybody suddenly dancing. It was so spontaneous and abrupt that Checo couldn’t believe it. But judging the nature of all the people, it was obvious that this happened very often, it was normal.

He watched them for a while, around fifteen people, and he was sure they were all crazy, very beautifully crazy. The last time he saw people as joyous as here was a very long time ago, he didn’t even remember, but he wasn’t thinking about this at this exact moment because he was becoming very joyous, too, and being drawn into doing the same what they did. It was impossible not to join. The energy was too swallowing.

Smile on his face, he walked slowly from the benches to the kitchen island around which they were all dancing. And all the time, Mauricio was watching him and with his smile inviting him to join the feast. Mauricio had already known about Checo more than Checo had told him.

Now, surrounded by all the dancers, Checo swung low on his knees, his hands in the air. Somebody passed him a joint. He inhaled from it two times and Mauricio started to laugh. Checo really thought he was not going to smoke marijuana here. Well, Mauricio knew he would. It was only a matter of time and the sooner, the better. Because, again, Mauricio had known more.

Euphoria, an intense feeling of pleasure, happiness and bliss was spreading throughout Checo’s body and mind like the smoke in his lungs. His dance was ecstatic. He was laughing aloud and in excitement. The pain in his stomach was gone, only the dumpling in his throat, he knew, was still there, but he didn’t pay attention now.

Asya, a pretty Russian girl with blond, curly hair and shiny eyes, took some kind of music instrument in her hand, it looked like a big bulb in which rattled some little stones. She danced and rattled with it around each and everyone like if she was expelling evil ghosts out of their bodies. Then, she always took one ice cube from the fridge and let it melt on somebody’s hot skin as she drew it all over his or her body. She started with the chest and back, she didn’t mind to slip under someone’s T-shirt, and then she continued with hands, legs, even feet. Once she was done, she washed her hands, took another ice cube from the fridge, and repeated the whole process not omitting a single person.

The shaman Kakanka was there, too, obviously. Checo noticed a few people were hanging around him and smoked something from his pipe. It wasn’t weed but probably the plant about which Checo had already heard Kakanka talk one morning by the cenote. He talked with a girl and overheard the conversation. The plant was supposed to be somewhere from the jungle. But Checo couldn’t remember the name anymore. Kakanka referred to the plant as being it very potent medicine, which, after intake, can evoke very strong hallucinations. The individual is then expected to enter the realm of a different world where he will discover the reality behind what the eyes can’t see otherwise.

The hallucinations didn’t sound appealing to Checo. Such things always scared him. Therefore, he never used any such drugs, or any other drugs whatsoever. To him, the mere word “hallucination” always represented the actual opposite of what reality was. And for him, the reality was what his eyes saw, and his heart felt, provided that he was sober. But how sober one is if that what he feels is anger, sadness, or depression?

Meanwhile, Kakanka continued talking about the healing effects of the plant. He said it had far-reaching, endless health benefits to the human body and mind. “It can cure anything!” he said at last with confidence and the look of a prophet delivering his message. “Anything?” Checo asked joining in the conversation? And since than pondered about it whenever his mind took a break from its daily routines.

Cosme was now smoking from the pipe. Checo had already trusted Cosme enough to approach him, and so he danced to him and asked if he could try it. Cosme’s reaction was surprising. He went to Kakanka and said something that would probably translate as, “Hey, Kakanka. He wants to smoke.” Checo wondered why was it such a big deal when the pipe had already been circling around the place for a while. Kakanka looked at Checo and nodded it was OK.

“Medicine! You smoking medicine,” Cosme repeated seriously as Checo inhaled from the pipe, slowly and carefully as he didn’t want to have the hallucinations. “Medicine! Here!” Cosme said again, and pointed his finger to the center of Checo’s chest who inhaled two times more. It had such a strange smell and even taste. Checo was very careful with the plant, and he also felt deep respect for it.

A few minutes later, Checo still saw the same world. Apart from the dance getting wilder and wilder, nothing had changed. But suddenly, everybody exclaimed in a confused scream, and Checo didn’t see anything. Nobody saw anything. Because somebody, probably Keshet, or Sara, switched off the main switch. The music had been too loud, and it was too late. Anyway, the “last song” had been playing for the fifth time already. The people started leaving. The party ended as quickly as it began.

“Sauna!” somebody called. “Yeah! Sauna! Let’s go to the sauna!” others called in elation. Checo was very surprised to learn that there was a sauna in Nicte. He went there first time a couple of days before. In his life, though, he had been in a sauna perhaps only three times.

They walked around the cenote. Checo turned back to see whether any woman was going with them. He knew they would all be naked inside the sauna, and the idea of being there with a naked woman or women whom he didn’t know aroused in him a sense of excitement.

They stopped in front of a concrete copula and started undressing. It looked exactly like an igloo. From behind it rose smoke which quickly disappeared in the stars. The entrance was low and covered by a quilt. Leaving their clothes on the ground, they walked in bending under the vault.

It hadn’t been yet so hot inside. There was a dimmed orange light right behind the entrance. The floor was made from thick wooden planks. By the wall, exactly in the opposite of the entrance, stood a small metal stove loaded with what looked like stones. Checo and Cosme were the first to seat themselves on the floor. They were followed by David and Kakanka.

A moment later, the quilt moved again. He could only see the contours of her body. And he wouldn’t keep starring at her, because that wouldn’t be appropriate. He didn’t remember what was her name. And normally, he wouldn’t even find her attractive. Yet now, the presence of a naked woman in his immediate proximity made him feel a certain degree of arousal.

She sat down. Everybody was quiet. Feeling only the feminine, Checo’s arousal was gradually gaining on its intensity until it reached the point when he became uneasy and afraid that it could be noticed despite the very dimmed light. But right then, Kakanka offered that they all sat in a circle. And that distracted Checo enough from his earlier distraction.

They all sat still for a long moment, Kakanka, Checo, Cosme, David, the girl and Karmina who came last. The fire in the outside furnace burnt strong, it hummed so loud that you thought it would rip the furnace away from the concrete hole. And here, inside, the heavy metal stove stretched and cracked as if it wanted to escape the quickly growing heat.

“Do you want to say anything?” Kakanka said suddenly to Checo who sat next to him.

“What do you mean?” Checo didn’t understand.

“What he means,” said Karmina, “is that since we are here altogether sitting in this circle, we can share our feelings with one another. You can say anything you want.”

“Oh, yeah, I understand,” Checo replied and became a little nervous that it was him who was bid to begin. He was thinking for a few seconds…

“I want to say that I feel honored to be here with all of you, to share all the love. I appreciate it. Not only I say thank you, to those being present right here, but also to those who can’t be here with us, our parents, brothers and sisters, our friends. We all are one human soul, different on the outside, but only so that we can recognize each other. Inside, however, we are one human. That’s all I want to say.”

Upon the last Checo’s word, everyone rose their hands and flickered with their fingers, and loudly they exhaled and wailed and howled like sirens and wolves. Kakanka dipped a metal ladle into a metal bucket full of water, it clinked noisily, and when he drew the ladle out, he poured its content over the stove. He repeated this several more times, and he was very vigorous, like if he was spitting on it, and he repeated some strange formula, “Tatata cojita! Tritina cojita! Tritinata cojita! Cojitana tritina! Pa! Pa! Papapa! Tritinata cojitana tritina!”

The stove spluttered, raged and steamed. The vapor crawled up on the walls. In the center above them, above the circle, was being formed a thick cloud, and it hovered there like if it was supposed to rain.

“What is the smell?” Checo asked.

“Eucalyptus leaves,” Kakanka said. The leaves were in the water, and it smelled heavenly good as it steamed out from the stove. Another moment of silence followed.

Then, Karmina spoke. And when she finished, everybody wailed and howled, again, and again, Kakanka poured water on the stove and repeated, “Tritina cojita! Tritina cojita! Tritinata cojita! Tritinata cojitana! Papapa! Tritinata cojita!” And another cloud formed above them.

It was now Cosme’s turn. But he wouldn’t start. There was silence, and it kept going on and on. The cloud had already disappeared. It had rained. They were all wet. Drops of sweat and water rolled down their naked bodies. Checo looked at Cosme. He was sitting cross-legged, upright, his eyes closed, like in meditation. Checo would have bid him to say something, but he didn’t want to break the sacred silence which they shared with one another. Suddenly, Cosme made a very deep breath and began talking. “Mi nombre es Cosme Sanches. Soy mexicano… ” His voice was low, calm and remarkably balanced. Everything he said, despite Checo not understanding, sounded like a magic. The young man talked pure love. Again, Checo reminded himself that he had been in a different world.

Three clouds more rose up and disappeared under the ceiling. Finally, Kakanka’s long speech began. He sounded more like he was praying, and expressing honest gratitude. “Spiritu” was the word Checo registered many times. As he talked, the boys started drumming slowly on the wooden floor. They used their palms, their fingers and knuckles, and they were drumming louder and louder and Kakanka, too, had begun talking louder. The energy was cumulating. Checo joined them with the drumming. Karmina started to hum a simple melody and soon the others joined her as well. Kakanka talked louder and faster. The boys were hitting the floor now with force. You thought the whole place was going to erupt like a volcano. And then. Boom! It did.

“Tritinata cojita! Tritinata cojita! Ta! Ta! Ta! Tritinata cojitana!” Kakanka emphasized each syllable and shoveled the stove with loads of water. It hissed in all its madness, it spewed out vapor like when a volcano eructs lava. The people were euphoric, they uttered all kinds of sounds. Then, silence arrived again. Everybody was lying down on their back. It was very hot now. Beads of sweat jostled its way through every part of Checo’s weeping skin. He thought it was time to leave and cool down in the cenote, but he wanted to go together with all the others, so instead he found a spot farther from the stove and leaned his back on the wall.

Kakanka suggested singing a simple song. He would sing the first line and after him, everybody would repeat in unison. They sang. The melodies were being carried like snowflakes, gently they were falling down and melting before touching the ground. Suddenly, Checo saw himself in Israel, in Tel Aviv. He walked on a pier toward a red lighthouse. It was a beautiful sunny day and the sea glittered in silver color. And then he saw her. He walked to her. She saw him now as well and from that moment she kept watching him as he was approaching. He stopped and was again looking in her eyes, the most beautiful eyes. Silence. “You don’t remember me?” he asked, a slight smile on his face.

“Of course, I remember you,” she said, “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you,” he said, and she smiled in the way that brought him to a paradise, as always in the past.

But then he couldn’t see any further than this moment. He replayed the scene from the beginning thinking it would continue. But it again stopped where it did before. He tried one more time. Still the same. He was thinking. “If I don’t stay here, if I don’t find anyone, if I don’t have anywhere to go, then I will go to Israel, to Tel Aviv. I will go to this lighthouse, and she will be there. I will tell her that I came to see her, and she will smile and then I will know…” Checo really believed this could happen.

But quickly he started doubting it. Not because what he saw now was not possible to happen later, it was possible, but he questioned whether it really should happen. “The past has finished!” he admonished himself again for forgetting his mantra. And what did he mean when he told himself, “If I don’t find anyone? If I don’t have anywhere to go…”? That sounds like he was already counting with being alone and having no place to go. That was not healthy thinking. Unless he decided to do this because he really loved her, because no-one could be as beautiful as her and no place could be as beautiful as when being with her. Well, this man, Checo, was crazy.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Kakanka approached him as if some devil took over him. He put his palm on Checo’s forehead and, again, he repeated “Tatata cojita! Papapa! Tritinata cojita! Tititi tritina!” Then, he started touching Checo’s face. His fingers, as if they were picking up tiny salt crystals. After that, he tapped on Checo’s neck and went down to his chest where he rested his open palm. Right in the center, Kakanka was beating him to the point when it almost hurt. Checo had already seen this when Kakanka did the same thing to Cosme the first time in the sauna. Back then, he figured out it was perhaps some kind of practice to expel evil ghosts out of the body. This is what Checo thought was happening right now. It was very strange, but to Checo’s surprise, he let Kakanka do it. “Just let go, let it go,” Checo repeated to himself.

Now, Kakanka was scooping something up from Checo’s chest, and whatever it was that he had in his hands, he was tossing it away like rubbish. First, they were big chunks, and then smaller, until only the smallest bits were left and to take these out, it looked like Kakanka was plucking Checo’s chest hair. “Tatata cojita! Tritinata cojitana! Papapa!” and suddenly Kakanka choked and coughed, and quickly he went away from the sauna and Checo heard he was spitting something out. If this was real, then it must have been the rubbish that Checo had probably carried with himself God knows for how long.

When Checo finally walked hunched up from the sauna’s entrance, and he straightened himself up all the way to the stars and his head tilted far behind his neck, he felt an immense size and beauty of the night’s sky. It was only a few days after the full moon. The stars shone in their greatest elegance and the moon was so bright that Checo saw his own shadow on the ground. Slowly and stupefied he trod to the water.

On the rocky stairs that descended to the cenote, in silence, stood the bare bodies of the men. They stood there like the trunks of willow trees. From the stars and the moon, their shoulders glittered like if they were sprinkled with icing sugar. Vapor crept away from them like smoke from dying fire. And then, one by one, they started to fall in the water as if somebody was chopping them at the bottom. They smacked onto the mirrored surface in which the sky watched itself. And immediately the picture was distorted and wavy and the stars swung on the ripple like blossoms of white and yellow roses.

Checo stopped on the last step. Enchanted, he breathed deeply, freedom. Then, he fell in, too, and floating like a log, he watched the sky. “I loved this planet,” he said aloud.

After two more rounds in the sauna, Checo felt pleasantly tired to go to sleep. He wished the others a good night. Then, he dressed up, and carefully he walked back around the cenote. Millions of crickets, mosquitoes and other insects listened to him as he trod on the stones or fallen leaves and twigs. It rustled and crackled under his feet finely and delicately, almost like when a second hand breaks time. He looked back at the sky. The moon had already moved to the other side of the cenote and was now so low that you believed it was sitting on the bank like a water goblin. It was such a divine beauty.

He spotted two silhouettes sitting a little behind the wooden platform. Checo dared to approach them and said, “It’s so beautiful.” It was Eva with somebody Checo didn’t know. It was clear they were just talking about the same beauty. “The craziest thing about this,” Eva responded promptly, “is that all these stars at which you are looking right now are your previous lives.”

“How is that possible?” Checo asked her.

Eva explained it clearly as if she was just reading it from a book, but the result was still very incomprehensible to Checo. How could stars be his previous lives? He would probably not understand it even if he had been given the clearest of all explanations. This was simply beyond his understanding and far from the reality about which he was aware and in which he lived. But what he had just heard was crazy and interesting enough for him to say “I was on the way to sleep, but I think I will stay a bit longer.”

The three immediately became great philosophers. Each of them talked about inapprehensible, mysterious things, figuring out the logic of the universe. The truth was, however, that they knew very little about the stars, the universe and their previous lives. But it was nice to talk about it because it made them think they knew everything. When the conversation took them far away from the universe, but somehow they were still there, Checo concluded and said aloud, “For two people to live together, they have to live in the same time in the same place.”

He was lying on his back. He had just closed his eyes. The wind blew. The trees swung gently. Their branched danced like a curtain in an open window. And the leaves whispered in choir. A minute ago, he was watching the stars through the mosquito net of his tent. “All the stars are my previous lives… How could this be so?”

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