The Edelweiss and the Lotus

The toppling giggle of a tumbling boy and a tumbling girl spun down the sheer granite mountainside, bounced off a limestone plateau, and splashed onto the still face of Kalki –

     – who woke from a thousand year lotus mediation, and became aware of the sight:

         Two tucked forms of small children, pink skin unbordered by clothes, rolling head-over-feet through patches of snow and rock formations, heading directly towards Kalki’s rooted figure.

And right before it seemed the boy were to collide directly into Kalki’s chest, he roll-smashed his upper back into a fallen tree, hurtling himself through the air, body still spinning, plunging head-first into a nearby snowbank, disappearing completely from sight, leaving just a small splash of displaced powder.

Kalki immediately sprung to their feet and sprinted towards the boy. The girl continued giggling and tumbled down the slopes. Kalki urgently found the traces of displaced snow on the bank and plunged in two hands, swiftly scooping out powder that melted through fingers. They quickly uncovered one of the boy’s feet, grasped it with two hands, and pulled the child out of the slush. Kalki dragged him to the dry limestone plateau, and set him up upright, with his back resting on a warm slab. The boy’s skin had turned from a playfully light pink to a frigid, dangerous purple. Kalki took a second to collect their breath with soft, closed eyes. A giggle burbled out from deep within the boy. As Kalki opened their eyes, the child, dropping his torso over his feet, formed back into a ball, disappearing through the dust, trees, rocks, and ice, careening down the cliffs once more.

~ * ~

Swaying in alpine breeze were the edelweiss. With wisdom in white pedals, and compassion in yellow buds. Atop the limestone plateau Kalki -

     – 10th avatar of Lord Vishnu, God of Preservation

         – returned to lotus form for an unmeasured length of time.

While the edelweiss grew closer to their soft ankles.

~ * ~

At some point Kalki is struck by a snowball, followed by the soft, scurried patter of small feet.

     Without mud there can be no lotus.

~ * ~

At some point Kalki hears the deep, anguished sob of two children. Immediately, the avatar rises to their feet once more and heads towards the children. Seeing Kalki between eyes buried by fingers, the girl stammers,


Kalki looks down and sees a purple figure. A deeper, bluer, blacker shade than the boy had appeared. Kalki lifts the mother and pulls her closely – transferring warmth. Her heat is gone. The children hush.

When the children come to realization, they lay four small hands on the ice above their mother’s heart, holding her in silence until their warmth melts through to her flesh. They take turns leaning down and kissing her iced forehead, curl their bodies, and silently roll down the hills. Kalki returns to the limestone plateau and assumes the lotus form once more. The edelweiss continues to grow by their ankle. Delicate as an ankle. Kalki holds the flower in heart and gaze. Winds carry faint sound-memories : children giggling and wailing, slushing sounds of rolling in the snow, the muted thud of the boy colliding with the tree.

~ * ~

One day the avatar awakes to an earthly smell. Kalki opens their eyes and finds a straw basket filled with wild mushrooms. Laced in the handle of the basket are more of the white flowers that furled around Kalki’s ankles.

The avatars of Vishnu are assumed in form when the universe is in need of a restoration of balance.

Kalki smiles. They clutch the basket to their chest. They do not grip too tightly, knowing not to crush the delicate mushrooms and flowers, knowing they may fall from grasp.

Kalki even lets out a giggle as they topple head-over-feet down the Alps.

Image: The Edelweiss and The Lotus, by James Sud. Digital.