What Is Your Ask?
What Is Your Ask?
Once upon a time, in a village by name Nommocoston lived a young orphan by name Elbis Nesni. Elbis was a hard working young man who used to make his living by running small errands throughout the day for the village people of Nommocoston. No one knew from where Elbis came to be, or who gave him that name, but they all liked to engage him. He was a handy guy and could do everything that he got thrown at. And the villagers did throw a lot over to Elbis, so much so that although he started very early in the day and worked till late in the evening, he still had lots left to do.
Elbis was a strong lad with exceptional stamina and could work all day long like a work horse without getting tired. But he was not so clever and also had a weird problem – he could not remember for too long as to why he was doing something and what he was trying to accomplish!
This made some of the villagers exploit him by making him work on things that he did not commit to do. It was not uncommon to hear conversations such as, “…but you said you will deliver these logs as well over to Sandy’s, didn’t you Elbis?” and Elbis would shrug and say “If you say so, I would’ve promised!”, and take on the extra errand. Elbis quickly developed a reputation of being called Silly Elbis Nesni, but he tried to ignore this. He focused on taking up small errands so that he could stay focused and not forget what he was up to. But it was often not the case and he got himself into more work. There were kind souls too that cared for him and tried to help him out, but they were few and far between.
Over time, new dwellers came to Nommocoston and Eblis’ reputation as being Silly overtook his ability to do good work. He got more work than he could manage. “How is it that I get to do so much, but I don’t get enough in return!”, he used to think. But his problem kept him busy and he got increasingly frustrated with his life.
On one evening, when Elbis was finishing up work for the day, the village Sheriff’s cousin, Reganamdab, who carried an air of authority over the village, calls Elbis for a big errand.
“You have to go deep into the forest tomorrow morning, almost to the foot of Ytinutroppo and get me 100 logs of Egnellahc wood”, says Reganamdab. “What! no one went so far towards Ytinutroppo hill, its too dangerous and no one has ever seen an Egnellahc tree, we only heard stories…”, shrieked Elbis in shock. “And that’s why you should go and I will pay you a hefty amount, and will give you a brand new cottage to live in. I want to show to my cousin and the whole village that Egnellahc exists and I will make furniture out of it!”, smirked Reganamdab with a glint of ambition in his eyes. “Only you can do it Elbis”, Reganamdab sounded more authoritative than encouraging.
“This is impossible”, thought Elbis as he walked back to his home, “and I don’t know if I will make it to Ytinutroppo (“no one knows the way!”) and still remember what I should be doing there. But, may be this will help me get to a better life, a lot of money and a new cottage is not a bad offer!”. As Elbis was lost in his thought, he bumps into the village’s oldest living elder Rettam Seulav perched comfortably on his veranda. Suelav is a kind hearted man and understood Elbis. He counselled Elbis multiple times when he got into trouble earlier and showed him the right direction. When Elbis explained his new problem to Seulav in despair, Suelav spoke softly smoking his cigar, “Don’t worry my lad, you got to have your most important work right in front of you, take this slate, put it around your neck and it will remind you”. So saying Seulav wrote “Go to Ytinutroppo and get 100 logs of Egnellahc!”. “Ah, is it so simple? Why didn’t I think of this before!”, Elbis thought scratching his head. “And remember Ytinutroppo is not an ordinary hill, who knows what you will find there! Don’t forget the slate though, keep your objective in front of you! I will also give you a special sword called Suoiruc. In your path you will find a lot of poisonous bushes that are called Noisufnoc by the locals, they tend to drain you of your energy when you come in contact with them. Suoiruc will keep you going and will clear away the Noisufnoc”.
Suddenly Elbis felt energized! He thanked Seulav for the tip and early next morning set out in search of Egnellahc. Elbis painstakingly went through the deep forest and with support of Suoiruc and his own incredible stamina made very good progress. Each time he stopped in his track not knowing what he was doing in the forest, the slate reminded him of his purpose. By noon, Elbis reached the foot of Ytinutroppo hill and started looking around for Egnellahc. Seulav also described to Elbis as to how to identify an Egnellahc when he encounters one and the right way to chop it down. “It won’t be easy, but you are too strong to give up!“, echoed the voice of Seulav. “I wonder why I remember everything Seulav says to me, he is so kind”, thought Elbis as he moved around the dense forest filled with Noisufnoc.
As Elbis approached what looked like a very old and dying tree, his eyes fell on a dried piece of wood. It looked like a slate of wood on the bark of the old tree and looked as if attached to the tree. Something about it caught the attention of Elbis and he picked up the piece of wood, which was clearly a piece of wood but was remarkably strong. Elbis also noticed an inscription that read “This is the Ecnahc! If you are holding the Ecnahc, it means you have worked hard to find it. Go to the top of Ytinutroppo, find the cave of Tluser and wait for the deity to answer you. You will be rewarded!”.
This looked like a joke of the villagers at first to Elbis. But then he thought, who would come all this way to play a prank risking their lives? And he also remembered the words of Seulav “…remember Ytinutroppo is not an ordinary hill, who knows what you will find there!”. “What could be more difficult than my everyday life, if all it takes is to reach the top, and if it’s true that this deity of Tluser exists, then it may change my life”. So saying, Elbis erases his original purpose on the slate and writes “reach the top of Ytinutroppo, find Tluser and wait for deity”.
Munching on his meagre meal for the journey, Elbis sets out to conquer Ytinutroppo. “But how do I get there, I wonder if the bark has some more detail”, so saying Elbis looks around for the Ecnahc, but it is not to be found. “Silly me! I should have looked thoroughly when I had the chance“. But with his sheer grit and determination, Elbis takes on Ytinutroppo. The trek is slow and painful and takes all the strength and determination of Elbis. As he paused to catch his breath over a short crevice or a jutting rock, he consulted his slate to understand what he was doing and where he was going. “Keep going up, until you find your Tluser!”, he kept encouraging himself.
After a toil of several hours and almost losing his life falling into the valley of Ecnagorra, that was adjacent to Ytinutroppo, Elbis finally makes to the top of the hill and to his jubilation, finds the cave of Tluser appearing between two huge boulders. “Are these the sentries now?!!!”, wondered Elbis.
“We are the Tbuodfles and you have to overcome us to enter!”, boomed the boulders at Elbis. “Ok, what should I do?”, replied a wearied Elbis. “Answer two questions and we will let you in – 1. Who sent you up? and 2. Who helped you to find?”. “Ah! thats easy, I stumbled upon ecnahc and came up and Seulav helped me to find it I guess!”. The boulders opened up to Elbis to enter into the cave.
As Elbis entered the cave that was pitch dark, he saw a soft light dawning at the corner of the cave which transformed magically into a human form. “No one has made it this far in a 100 years Elbis, I am the deity of Tluser, so what is your ask?”
“Ask? I don’t know…”, replied Elbis, his silliness taking over.
“Remember all the hardships you have gone through Elbis, what’s it for?”, the deity tried to help.
Elbis referred to his slate and replied with confidence, “to reach the top of Ytinutroppo, find Tluser and wait for deity”.
“You Silly Elbis, that you have done, but what is your ask?”, the deity replied with a hint of frustration.
“See I first came to look for Egnellahc and hit upon ecanhc and came here, so may be I think I want Egnellahc”, replied Elbis with an “aha moment” on his face.
“You Silly Elbis Nesni”, the deity was angry, but she also understood the real problem of Elbis. “What is your ask son?”.
“I think you should hear all the adventures I had on the way through the forest and oh boy, now I know why they say ‘uphill’ task, this was more difficult than everyday work that I do and then these two boulders, they looked like they would roll over me and …”
She calmly replied, “look son, there is a reason the villagers call you silly. You forget your purpose and instead of practising to overcome your problem, you chose to strengthen it. You always kept busy with small work with small outcomes!”. Elbis was more confused and looked a bit hurt after all the hardwork.
“But…”, continued the deity, “you have great persistence and you have overcome Ytinutroppo. So I will reward you for that”. So saying the deity of Tluser blesses Elbis with the potion of Ytiralc. “Drink this and it will make you a different man. You will not need any more riches than Ytiralc. Trust your strength and keep persisting!“. So saying the deity vanished and Elbis wakes up beside the old tree at the bottom of Ytinutroppo with two logs of egnellahc.
“No one should think I am silly anymore and now that I am sensible, I should see things completely in a new light”, Elbis starts towards Nommocoston and lived happily ever after.
PS: Elbis also considered changing his name to Elbis Nesmai, which reads “I am sensible” in reverse and so should you read all the odd words above in reverse to get them to make sense to you