Lotus

Sometime before noon, Bakhura scrambled down the clay bank to check on his lily-field again. There was a sand-bar jutting out into the river and behind it a quiet pool had formed, and within that pool, a field of pink-lilies. Bakhura stood with his feet sinking into the soft mud at the edge of the lapping water and squinted out at his lilies, carefully examining the carpet of wide, flat leaves and the large, pinkish blossoms dotted here and there among them.

He spotted a lily-pad that was poked up on one side, as though being pushed from underneath, and Bakhura sucked in his breath eagerly and splashed out into the water. Once the water was dragging at his waist, he fell forward and swam out, trying not to get tangled too badly in the submerged stems tethering the lilies to the mud below. Bakhura reached the lily-pad that was poking up and shoved at it. Sure enough, when the leaf was moved aside, it revealed a honeycombed knob, bigger than Bakhura's fist, sticking out of the water.

Bakhura couldn't touch the bottom, and that made it difficult to bite through the stem, while thrashing in the water to stay afloat and to keep his arms and legs from getting too tangled up. Finally the stem broke and Bakhura tried to hold it up out of the water in one hand while swimming clumsily back toward the shore. When his feet finally found purchase (although very slippery with muck) Bakhura staggered and panted with the effort of his struggle against the lilies.

Back on land, he dropped down heavily into the clay and sat there, trying to catch his breath as he counted the seeds in his lily-fruit. Twenty-six. Bakhura grinned triumphantly; he'd captured a very big fruit. He started picking and pulling at the side until the walls around one of the seeds broke, then he glanced down at the clay under him and scooped out a small bowl with his hand to drop seeds into. He pushed a bit of the broken rind between his teeth to chew on while he kept pulling seeds free and dropping them into the basin. It didn't taste very good; not all that different than chewing through the stem had. The seeds were sweet and nutty though, and they made the effort worth-while.

There was a dicky-bird that kept trying to sneak up and steal a seed away from Bakhura as he pealed off the skins and popped them into his mouth. Bakhura glared at it and threw pieces of the rind, twice managing to actually hit the would-be thief with a small chunk. The bird flapped at him and ran back and forth along the clay and sand, eyeing Bakhura irritably. "Either get your own," Bakhura said, flinging an empty peal in the bird's direction, "or stop being so incompetent. You're a terrible thief."