You look like an idiot


An extract from S D Anugyan’s new book, The Non-Existent Limitations of the Flame

Under the ice

We landed some twenty metres away from a small dwelling visible through the swirling snow. I knew where we were. In the version of events with which I was familiar, Jaroslava had been granted a boon by the grateful Russian president for ridding the Kremlin of efrits. She had requested a yurt with reinforced insulation and supplies at a specific location in the Arctic for undisclosed reasons – I never got that far in the stories. The area was of no strategic or financial significance, so he and the military were happy to comply.

She led the way and we stomped through the snow to the front entrance. It wasn’t locked. Following her example, I left my boots just inside to the left. She draped her coat across an adjacent packing crate and went straight to the woodburner which, I knew, was actually a cold fusion burner, left on low in order to keep snow from gathering outside. She turned the dial up and flames flickered into existence, visible through the glass window. They served as mere indicators of warmth, and providers of symbolic and psychological heat.

There was room for one large futon, a small table with three wooden chairs, and plenty of carpeted floor space. Suspended from the centre of the curved ceiling was a spherical light, unnecessary now because of the daylight seeping in through the walls, but which could emit variable wavelengths necessary to counter the polar extremes.

Jaro did a brief check of the room. Everything was clearly in place. At her request, the Russians shielded the yurt from satellite sensors, and casual visitors were extremely unlikely. It wasn’t exactly en route to the mall.

“Why do you wear so many clothes?” she asked, surveying me like some odd specimen as I hovered by the entrance. She herself was in black shorts and a loose halter top. Apparently things weren’t that different from my time onworld with Menaka.

“I’m not like you. I get cold.”

“Do you?” She stood in the centre of the room at the foot of the bed, in a gently confrontational manner. “You have the smokeless fire burning in your veins. I don’t see how you can get cold.”

“Force of habit,” I shrugged my shoulders.

“You look like an idiot. Take some of that off, leave the gun and spear. Come join me by the fire and I’ll show you what we’re doing. I’ll make you a cup of tea first.” She went to pull out a large piece of rolled-up thick paper that had been stored under the table.

“I’m not thirsty.”

“That’s not the point.”

The point was ritual. By the fire was one of numerous animal skins around, not from the vicinity as it was brown, a grizzly I assumed. It seemed real. We sat on it, drinking our mugs of herbal infusion she had made from water heated on the burner. It smelled and tasted of sage. The liquid coursing through my system helped ground me, reminded me where I was, and with whom, her large brown eyes drinking me in silently, as she raised the vessel to her pale lips.

She put the cup to one side, and placed the paper, now unrolled, before us. It depicted a medicine wheel with a crude drawing of the yurt at its centre. Art was not one of her talents.

“I asked the Russians to erect this place here,” she explained, her pale features glowing rosy from the flames, her gold hair radiant, “as I’m investigating the source of a sickness spreading through the hemisphere. We’re close to it, I’m estimating less than a sinik away, but I don’t know in what direction.”

“Have you looked?”

“I have, yes.” She was staring at me intensely, flames flickering in the molten depths of her eyes. Her long dark lashes blinked once, quickly.

“And found nothing.”

“Nothing. Which is where you come in.” She leant back on her haunches, a living statue. “I say there is nothing, but there are legends, tales of angels visiting this region, in Siberian shamanism. Not very well-behaved angels.”


“You see now why you’re here.”

“I may not have been one of them.”

“You’re all I’ve got. It’s hard to track any of you down. I was following a lead.”

“And found me.”


“I will of course do all I can to help. What’s the plan?”

She leant forward, breasts pushing out against the black material of her top, bright yellow hair falling across her face, and pointed to the wheel.

“We explore systematically in eight directions, starting with the north-east tomorrow. I am confident what we are seeking is less than half a sinik’s distance, so we can return to sleep each time.”

“So we’re looking for a MacGuffin.”

“A what?”

“A… never mind.” My facetiousness jarred. I was the MacGuffin.

Why was I attempting to sabotage the ambience? It could only be a sense of panic, that already I was struggling to remember Urvasi, Menaka, our home.

Sitting with Jaro, I was only aware of her, the flames from the burner, the childlike map spread before us, even the hostility of the outside elements reduced to insignificance, as distant and non-existent as my committed lovers.

This unique individual before me, legendary in worlds not her own, was supposed to be the harsh one yet it was I acting as if there were barbs in my aura. She, in turn, looked unaccountably fragile, reflective, no longer the fierce warrior celebrated in my past culture.

“You are portrayed as Ukrainian in the stories I read,” I said to her gently, as one would coax an animal out of its shell. “Is that the case?”

“Georgian.” She looked up from her tea, in tacit acceptance of my peace offering.

I asked more, and she started to relax, talking willingly of her life, particularly her childhood. She grew up surrounded by dissidents, and she herself had little reason to trust the Russian empire, having witnessed for herself of what it was capable. Despite this, she never allowed subjectivity to force her to deviate from her vision of a united world.

“The irony is,” she laughed as she got ready for bed, “I have a global perspective, while my powers are rooted in tribal wisdom.”

She slept on the bed, I on soft furs by the fire. “To keep you warm,” she teased, mocking my self-imposed limitations. Those were her last words that night. I slept immediately, soundly, welcomed into this new world by the warm embrace of forgetfulness.

Breakfast was black tea with brown rice that had been boiled with some dried vegetables and herbs. It tasted good. We didn’t say much beyond politeness, there was no need, the lightness in the air was tangible. We were at ease with each other.

She became her serious self once more when we left, now on mission-mode, not even commenting verbally that I had left my gun behind, a glance accomplishing that succinctly. I kept the spear to use as a walking-stick.

I didn’t know if a compass would even work here. She didn’t need one. I traipsed after her, boots crunching on the snow. The sun was shining meekly, kindly, through a thin veil of cloud at first, then it had to give up. The snowfall increased and I had to quicken my pace so that I didn’t lose her. (To be honest, I was in no danger, she would never have lost me.) If this were summer at the poles in her world, I dreaded what winter would be like.

After what I would estimate to be about three hours, with only occasional glances back from her, she stopped and allowed me to catch up.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you managing your body temperature okay?”

“I’m getting the hang of it, yes.”

We were dressed as the day before – I certainly didn’t have any other clothes – except she had a scarlet baseball cap, largely covered with snow. Her cheeks were flushing red, as if reflecting the cap, and her first smile since we set off was more than welcome, her teeth radiant as the snow. Her fur jacket was open, her bare midriff visible. The vapour from our breaths mingled. We were the only two people around for perhaps hundreds of miles, and we still didn’t kiss.

Extracted and adapted for publication in a magazine from S D Anugyan’s new book, The Non-Existent Limitations of the Flame

Featured image credit to Valdemaras D.

The Non-Existent Limitations of the FlameThe Non-Existent Limitations of the Flame
A Romantic Farce of Cosmic Disproportions

by S D Anugyan
cover illustration by Pramada Wells
Paperback and Kindle* –* –*
Read Bhagawati’s review on Osho News


After a long eclectic career, Anugyan is now a writer, Feng Shui consultant and explorer of higher dimensions.

Comments are closed.