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The Diamond Finger

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Every day the man Nonthook washed the feet of the gods on their way up Mount Krailat: a task that brought him merit, a respectable income, and the daily jokes of the gods. They knocked on his head as they passed, thunk-thunk, and now Nonthook was bald in the centre of his scalp despite being only twenty-eight years old.

The day that his wife murmured about meeting an attractive young rice farmer, Nonthook stomped up Mount Krailat to the god Issuan and made his complaint.

“Changing their ways is not within my power,” the god said sadly, “but I can offer you a gift in compensation.”

Nonthook thought for a moment, then smiled. “I will have a diamond index finger that kills instantly on touch.”


The gods knocked on Nonthook's head, one after the other, and dropped like flies.


“He broke the terms of the gift,” Issuan said to a gathering of the remaining gods.

“You might have expected that,” one murmured, but was ignored. Who expects a man to kill gods when he promised to kill mosquitoes and fish? No other man had shown similar stupidity. The other gods shared suggested punishments among one another like a bowl of spicy chicken cooked in a banana leaf. Finally the god Nurai made one they agreed upon.


Nonthook’s diamond finger had brought him great pleasure, killing gods on the mountainside, but hadn’t returned his youthful looks or his wife’s attentions. So on the night of a great festival, when a beautiful young woman approached and asked if he might dance, Nonthook smiled broadly and took her hand. The young woman led him through a series of dance features: a woman stringing flowers for a garland, a deer wandering in the forest, the goddess lighting swords of light, the banana leaves in the wind, the naga twisting its tail--

At this phase, she pointed her index finger at her knee.

Absorbed in the dance, Nonthook pointed the diamond finger at his own knee.

He died like a god.


is the god=dog thing in the last sentence deliberate (as I think) or lagniappe?

Posted by: David | May 22, 2009 12:24 PM

HAH! Oh, Diamond Finger -- this was awesome.

Posted by: Amal El-Mohtar | May 23, 2009 3:51 PM

Rocks - as usual :-)

Posted by: Angela Slatter | May 25, 2009 6:52 AM

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