The Sun's Tale (A Novelette In Verse) Poem by Prayag Saikia

The Sun's Tale (A Novelette In Verse)

A flock of birds hovers in
And appears to eclipse the Sun
The vermilion tinge effects light vibration
In a camera

Thousands of vermilion head for home
It's the sunset time

A boy gazes at the sky
It is not known to me
Whether he is in love with the sky
He is a novice
Yearns to adorn wonder
With chain of captivity

He does not say anything
Beautiful matchless or breathtaking
Just a sound emanates - merely mechanical
Of a frame of picture sliding out

Take care
Your hands shouldn't shake

He smiles
It just can't happen
His hands never ever shook
He can't even think of anything like that

There's none around him
But who is that cautioning him

The shutter of the camera closes
The shutter of the mind opens
Arup makes an entrance

Today's picture must be one to be acclaimed

Arup smiles
The smile of the prudent

Arup has traversed a long way
Countless form of the Sun he has witnessed
Many of his wings has been burnt by the Sun

He falls down-flies
Flies - again falls down
Borne so much agony of death and birth

A tiny black spot is there at the base of Arup's nose
He is a soldier never surrendering to the Sun
He desires like Van Gogh
Let all the cravings be incinerated
In the scorching sunlight of the desert
Let the insuppressible thirst of his camera
Only survive

The ultraviolet rays
Oozing through the ozone layer
Results in the annoying smell of a scorched cover
On Arup's nose

Friend Shatanik says
Arup, I like you in this get up

Do you remember the days of
Perestroika, Glasnost
That gentleman Gorbachev
There was also a dark map on his forehead

You are a person who can smell a picture
You can perhaps even click one blindfolded
Consider this spot as the parental certificate
Of the one famed as Radheya1
Who was floated down the river by virgin Kunti2

This is also a pair of matchless earrings
Don't ever try to remove
Shatanik is a graduate from the schoolof Hippocrates
with the sacred oath
But actually he is a poet
He likes to ponder about some absurd matters

If Beethoven could create the immortal symphonies
During his last days
Without having the ability to hear
Why not Arup be able to create
Some novel poems through his camera
By his self created blindness

Arnab shuts his eyes
He wants to walk on taking darkness as his companion
Oh! Impossible
The blind tales that he wants to start

Prabhupada's disciple's disciple is Pradip
Pradip is deeply pessimist
Because he has witnessed death so frequently
From a very close range

Under the lampstand
Where the diya of Pradip is burning
There is no darkness
Only the light from a pyre

One thing generally becomes apparent in Pradip's thoughts
As if we have arrived just to get lost

There is a portrait of Pradip in Arup's studio

Strange person this Shatanik
His words are misty
Remains submerged in mystery

Do you know why I put him in the frame
Once he came to me
With a strange request
I spent the days with Krishna3 in life's Kurukhetra

People tease me
I am the rightful disciple of the flautist
Who got his lips moistened with ale
Why do you stay shrouded in mist

The mist has really kept my living pair of eyes shrouded

You are a person living in the world of pictures
There is a saying in the holy book of the Chinese
That the Earth was created with colours and line

Just the other day
I have got a baby boy born to me
Please christen him with a name formed by colour and lines
So that I can dream about him

I got a picture clicked of him
And said
Arka would be the just name


It is pouring
Not in drops
But in torrents

Kaushik comes completely drenched into Shatanik's chamber


Whenever Kaushik meets Shatanik
He puts a coin on his palm firsthand

Shatanik does not know why
What for this honorarium is
What is the meaning of it

He feels there is an ancient illusion active here
Kaushik might be trying to revive
A custom of those forgotten days

But today
Not just the coin
Kaushik takes out from his pocket
And spread on Shatanik's table
Some curved out faces in Ironwood seeds

Please pen a few lines on the artwork made on Ironwood seeds
By I the sculptor
I mean the carpenter

If you like to listen about Katam Kutum of Abanindranath
What would be my punishment
That I your half-brother
Toiling round the clock
Has instilled life to the Ironwood seeds
But still if it does not make your poetic heart flutter a bit

Once you had stopped me
From going out in a yellow garb like the king Pandu
Now I have developed another ailment
People say I am suppressing it

Tell me if there is any rare cure with you
In a deep corner of your heart

Shatanik picks up
One by one
All the seven Ironwood masks

Isn't it that Naahar is called Ironwood

It appears that the raining outside has stopped

Kaushik, the rainbow would appear in Arka's songs
With all the seven hues

Do you know
The medical books refers to an ailment called progeria
Sometimes people may turn older than their actual age
At a faster pace

Don't you think
The civilization is also suffering from such progeria

Think of the suppressed disease in the line of progeria
It may be that your timespan for
Birth development and degeneration
Is short
But it doesn't matter

Carve out the masks
With all your devotion
One day this Ironwood would do all the talkingfor you

Who knows
One day you may spread your roots
And turn into an Ironwood tree yourself

To transform into a you
With the smell of Ironwood
You must bear countless pricks
Of many pointed Iron tools

The time that wakes up songs of self-praise
Is the death-arrow

One should turn deaf at the time of meditation


Kaushik has left
Shatanik knows that a bearing letter would be delivered
A few days hence

A poet that he is
He can look through the future
He can see through the future

He is to read paying some price
Or else the Ironwood account
Would never come to light

He puts his hands in the shirt pocket
And feels the existence of the coin

That has passed through many hands
That has traversed a long way


Money is the medium of exchange
Arnab's father Rabindra doesn't like the idea of saving money

Don't hoard money
Don't become Kuber3
If you become Kuber
You ought to handover the territory to Ravana

Kuber's brother Ravana
Ravana's brother Bibhisana
You'd witness the fall of idealism
In the power structure made of money

Don't garner money
Rather garner knowledge
Knowledge is the source of power
Knowledge is power
Read Francis Bacon

But papa
Birth evolution degeneration death
Everything is the law of nature
Not even mankind
It is applicable to civilization too
Have you ever seen
A tall tower of civilization
Built up without capital

Hey! What are you doing
Now it is study time
Tomorrow or the day after is his entrance exams
Why waste time

We don't have money
Let it be
We can't pay Capitation fee
Let it be
Would you then keep on lecturing

Arnab and Rabindra smiles

Ma please tell
Do you believe in
All those expressions by papa
That he keeps on quoting Bacon
Looking up those quotation books
‘Money is muck, not good, except it be spread'.

No, not at all

Look papa
Arnab smiles
Looking up at Arnab
The smile of self-satisfaction

Then rings the phone of Rabindra
Arnab picks up the phone
A familiar voice comes wafting from the other end

Hello Arnab
Your picture of the Sun and the bird has arrived
It's nice
I am thinking of sending it to a competition
And yes!
Carry the camera stand today
I need it
Is everything fine
Arup didn't wait for a response
Perhaps Abhinanda is pulling at his shirt
Come papa
We're getting late
Arnab is waiting at the gate
For the elusive rickshaw
Carrying the camera stand
Today it's Mayday

Lady luck is smiling
It's Shatanik driving by
On the wheel of his battered car

Hop in Arnab
Going to visit Arup?

Yes uncle

Is it that
Your Arup is filming a documentary on eye

Why uncle?

He has requested me to write something about eye

May be
Arupda bagged several commissioned programmes
Have you written anything

Not yet
What should I
So many eyes I did behold
The eyes of anger
The eyes of benevolence
The eyes of hunger
The eyes of wisdom
The eyes deep in love
All the actors fail to perform in the theatre of life
Only because of
Lack of right kind of eyes

Eyes do not know to cover up the heart
Eyes are simple orators
Whoever does not know to read the eyes
Is actually sightless

I feel myself to be sightless
As if I am poorer than a simple eyeball

You appear perplexed
You have learnt to photograph
Try to snap a picture of the eyes

Your thirst will enhance as you click on
You will realise when you'd have to stop at certain point
Those are only your eyes
The pair you have been chasing like a mirage
You'd feel in your horizon
How deficient these actors called men

The words appear to resemble the feelings of a philosopher
We are the ‘Potato eaters' of Van Gogh
At the most we understand
A spoonful of aquamarine blue in your eyes

Shatanik reduces the speed of his car
Laughs out aloud

Arnab, look at this beauty parlour
Once a girl came to me
With a request to inaugurate it

I turned down the request
Said, invite someone beautiful
Who is good to look at
Who speaks beautifully

Do you know
What she said

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder

Shatanik leaves Arnab near Arup's studio

The actual name of Shatanik is Bibek
He started penning down poems under this penname

But slowly the name
Shatanik too found its existence as Bibek
Not only with the friends
But among the commoner too
The length of Bibek got reduced
Like the line shortened by Birbal without erasing it
Shatanik got encompassed by Bibek

As he was leafing through the pages of the Mahabharata
Bibek fell in love with the name
The one who was the offspring of the fourth Pandava
Whose tale of gallantry came to a premature end
By a mistake of Aswathama5

There are many Shataniks in the Mahabharata
But this Shatanik is the sapling on the lap of Panchali4

In the new Mahabharata of Bibek
Shatanik shrouded the existence of Bibek

He is not born to embrace death
At the hands of some immortal Aswathama
He has sought immortality through poetry

In the ocean of consciousness
Shatanik is not a warrior with honed weapons
Shatanik is not a successor of any astrologer
Shatanik is a warrior of words

The speed of Shatanik's car reduces
His old rickety car comes to a halt near a hospital

Shatanik disembarks like king Jarasandha
Here his incarnation is Bibek
Today he would spend the entire day with some destitutes
Majority of who are sufferers like the Samba7 cursed by Krishna
He doesn't know why
But feels as if he has visited the abode of the Sun
When he steps here


I wish to get a few snaps on sunrise

Very good
Go to Darjeeling
Reach the Tiger Hills before break of dawn
Get a cup of coffee
Then wait facing a field of cloud forgetting the biting cold
If you are lucky
You'd utter a word of surprise
It's difficult to keep silent near such magnificence

If luck does not favour
Go again the next day
Day after day
Not necessarily for year after year
It's just a matter of little patience

The Sun is our nearest God
It's easier to access Sun
But difficult to be born as Karna
One needs deep penance to float down the river being born to the Sun

Why do you and your friend
Relate everything to the Mahabharata

Whatever is not mentioned there
We don't know if it is elsewhere
But it definitely is not to be found in India

Certainly You didn't learn Sanskrit-the tongue of the Gods
But definitely know Bengali
Just read the Mahabharata by Kaliprasna Singha
It's written in prose
You can drift along effortlessly

But Rudyard Kipling
The one who created Mogli, the Jungle Boy
Didn't keep good words for Mahabharata

May be
To like or not is a personal matter
Study first and then comment

Do you know what is meant by dawn

Arnab gazes at Arup

As the diya burns in a brighter flame before going out
Similarly dawn is the entity following intense darkness


Arnab goes out
Arup looks at Pradip's picture
Locked up in a frame
Pradip appears to step out
Holding Arka to his bosom against the current of the river
Arup's studio gets illuminated

Can a river be created by the tears of a pessimist
Does the first lesson of wisdom
Commences with the river

What makes the life poetic
The worry of getting blind
The tears

Homer was blind
Milton too lost eyesight
Pradip appears to ask him with a smile
Tell me the name of a blind poet from our epic
Arup says
I don't have his picture in my camera

Pradip prods
Try to find

Dharmakhetre Kurukhetre Samabeta Yuyutsavah
Mamakah Pandavashaiva kimkurvata Sanjaya
(the warriors have congregated in the holy place of Kurukhetra
Sanjay, tell me, what my sons and the Pandavas are doing)

Who is the speaker of the very first line of Geeta
With such lyrical metre

Don't you consider Dhritarashtra8 as a poet
Who asked Sanjaya about the news of Kurukhetra

A gush of wind rushes in
Arup thinks that he should tell Shatanik
About the pair of eyes of Dhritarashtra8

The shutter of the camera opens

The eyes of Dhritarashtra
The eyes of Gandhari9
The eyes of Homer
The eyes of Milton
The eyes of George Luis Borges
Tries to enter


Shatanik wants to pen a few lines on eyes
In the falling sunlight

Shatanik writes and strikes out
He is yet to write something satisfactory to Arup

Do you want to damage your eyes
Sikha admonishes Shatanik
She turns on the light
The name of George Luis Borges flashes through his mind
The great writer who gradually lost his eyesight

Borges was always unhappy with his writings

He utters
Looking at Sikha
Sikha, the same mistake is always repeated
You have observed since the day we made home
I like to write in the fading light of the afternoon
But this liking of mine has affected my eyesight
But still I can't feel
And what have I written damaging myself
All rubbish stinky

Bibek lifts his pen to strike out another line

Sikha intercepts - don't
There is a look in every piece of writing
This is the look that unveils
One after another world
Kalidasa was the most revered poet in his era
Through the description of the dried log
Sought by King Vikramaditya
On the other hand
Bararuchi was comparatively plain and dull
But look now
Bararuchi wants to emerge revered in some people's eyes

You needn't wait for a blank canvas
Like the ‘Last Leaf' - the famous story by O'Henry
If you consider the pen as the decisive factor of your life
Like Amrita Pritom
Keep on writing honouring it

Shatanik listens to Sikha mesmerized
Kaushik enters with a faceful of beard gatecrashing into the conversation


Shatanik takes the coin from Kaushik

You must stop this practice of giving coin
Spend the remaining ones in your pocket
And appear neat by shaving the unkempt beard
Be careful
Your beard may provide asylum to those beings like in the head

No Nabou10
Arupda is making a few portraits for me
And one shouldn't dislike the beings in the hair
They should be credited for making people trim

Ok, enough of lecture
Want to have a cup of tea

Gladly but not here
Would sip gazing at the sky
Sitting on the terrace
One should look at the sky when in conflict

That is from the folk tales of the Dimasas
For the husband-wife
You are my brother-in-law
Sip looking at the earth
Ironwood spreads its roots on earth only

Sikha leaves
Kaushik hands Arup an Ironwood mask

This time I have carved a Sun on Ironwood
I would like to erect a temple
Like the one that Narada11 prescribed for cursed Samba
To go to the temple of the Sun

The one whose heart is cursed
Would not feel any pain
Let this Sun cutout in Ironwood seed bring forth the blessings

Shatanik looks at the Sun mask fondly
Kaushik, curse is pre-determined

This is not my words
These words are uttered by Srikrishna
In Samba composed by Kalkut
I mean Samaresh Basu

Samba was not infected by leprosy
Just because of Krishna's curse
Samba had been infected from much before

I don't believe in destiny
I think a curse is the result of deep conspiracy

Narada was the messenger of the Purana
Had seen the entire world
Had seen people infected by leprosy
Had seen the pilgrimage of its healing
So he chased away Samba
In collusion with Krishna
Showed him the path of healing

Tomoso ma jyotirgyamaya
Let all the darkness be illuminated
This light thing is very intriguing Kaushik
Wherefrom it comes there is burning
Wherever it goes
It carries the purified light emanated from burning

Give me a couple of masks of your Bibaswan
I shall carry them to the temple housing my Sambas


A flock of birds have flown away startled
The Sun has risen to the garden of the clouds

The Sun is called by many names
Beli Arka Bibaswan Dibakar
The significance of each name appears to be different
The same Sun but so many pictures

Arnab ponders with the camera in hand
Would his snapped pictures of the Sun get any significance
Would some Amitava come out with Amit-abha - unlimited bounty of light

Their parents put his name Arnab
Arnab means sea
The sea has a vast expanse

To get an expanse like the sea
He has to be Rishi Agastya

Like putting an elephant in an urn
Can someone make it in the form of Gunamala
Arnab thinks about his limitations

A patch of cloud suddenly drifts in and covers the Sun
The mountainlike Hanuman that has become extremely powerful
Through the opened up casket of memory in his mind stands up

He thinks this mass of cloud
Is like the armpit of the son of Wind-God
Who lifted and carried the medicinal hill named Gandhamadana

Everything is magic

He tells himself
The wealth of this magic
Is the expression of sheer will power

He picks up the camera
And fixes his gaze through on the patch of cloud

He senses a few droplets of rain on his body
And springs up to alertness
It's the warning to wrap up the camera
He doesn't know the hymn to stop nature's diktat
He has not come prepared
For the unexpected shedding of tears of the sky

At this moment this is his invaluable instrument
If it is not secured properly
His expert hand would be tainted

He can get drenched himself
But for the moment it is the cage of his soul

Arnab holds the camera
And looks at it like an ogre in a fairy tale
His soul is encaged here

Can he become Karna
It's not easy to play the son of the Sun

Arnab looks at the river flowing by him
On the path alongside the river
It's Pradip, Arka's father
On his morning stroll

His only younger brother was lost in this very river one day
Mesmerized by some river mermaid

He took up the fire-brush for the maiden occasion
Only on the bank of the river

The day his father expired
The painter of Agni was quite an immature child

The time that handed him the brush
Ticks on even today

A different entity of him has formed
Alongwith the game with Agni
It is different to remain stable always
If one doesn't shed a little tear in solitude
In the occupation of a crematorium attendant

Pradip started visiting the river bank almost regularly
Exactly at the sunrise time

Facing the reality with tears

River resembles tears

Arnab moves near Pradip
Uncle, have you witnessed the sunrise today

Pradip smiles
Keeps gazing at the cloud

Arnab, everyone having the sight sees the Sun
The cloud can't be the hindrance
Just the analysis of the soul
Encaged in the cages of the almighty differs

Someone looks through Kunti's eyes
Someone through Karna's
Someone through Jayadratha's12

For some Sun is love
For some it is the existence
For some it is the harbinger of death

Arup says,
Learnt that you have been clicking on sun's pictures
Heard that Kaushik has started carving out the Sun's face on Ironwood seeds

Keep the Sun in Sun's temple
So that the cursed bodies keep on getting the ale of life

Don't make the Sun
The great warrior of a Great War


Shatanik is baffled
Why the name Robert Oppenheimer flashed in his mind the first thing in the morning
Who is that with the brightness of not one but a thousand Suns
Trying to reach out to him

Krishna bestowed Partha13 with divine sight
To discern his universal manifestation while preaching the Geeta
As he was experimenting with the eyes of Arup
The pair of Openheimer's eyes came out
Alongwith that of Arjuna

Oppenheimer gazed mesmerized at the explosion of the atomic body
With the same passion that of Arjuna
At the time of witnessing the Viswaroopa - the universal manifestation

Later on
From a child to the frail old man
Got the eyes of
But, did it provide the lyrical tranquility
It is the destiny of hell
Stalking for end of the tourney of truth

Shatanik startles

What an unbearable time it is
Pierced by the arrow of radioactivity
Everyone is blind
Everyone is Dhritarashtra
The entire world
Appears to be
A Kurukshetra

The flight of Shatanik has culminated
As if he is down with a singed pair of wings
Near an ocean
Here he is not Shatanik
Here he is a bird from the era of
Even prior to that of the Mahabharata
Here he is Sampati14
He is powerless here
With the burnt pair of wings

What are you pondering about
So early in the morning

A couplets from Geeta
Whose creator was Arjuna with his divine sight

Which was sensed by a great intellectual called Oppenheimer
Contemporary to Einstein
Without any divine intervention

What are these lines

Shatanik pulls out the Geeta
From the bookshelf in front of him

Shikha perhaps these are the lines

Diwi Suryasahashrashya Bhavedah yugapadutthita
Yadi bhah sadrishi sa shyad bhashastaysya mahatmanah
If hundreds of thousands of Suns do rise in the sky
Then the brilliance that would be seen of all these
Only that would compare with the brilliance of the parampurusa - the most divine one in the universal manifestation

Oppenheimer was perhaps a God believing person
With an immense perception of aesthetics
May even be a follower of Hegelian philosophy
A self detached God
Ejected from the sense of wholeness

But you know Bibek
I don't know how spontaneous was it
But in my eyes
The feeling of a woman
Dedicated to a similar occasion
Did create flutter in my mind
That was - Buddha smiles

Shatanik looks at Shikha's eyes
Here is news of a bird of the fairy tale
It is not devastated like Sampati14 with Agni's arrow
This is just a game of exchanging garbs
In the temple of the Sun-God
Rising again from its own ash
It is a very familiar name
The Phoenix


Arup is perusing through an article
In the morning newspaper
With the caption
The Sun has arrived

He is reading the names of the Sun God
As called in various countries
Apollo in Greece
Ra in Egypt
Liza in Africa

His eyes hover on the passage of Chinese mytology
Once upon a time
There had been ten Suns in the sky
On a certain day
All the ten of them
Decided to rise together

The result was devastating
The Earth turned immensely hot
Even the rocks melted

Their father Disun tried to bring sense onto them
But they were stubborn
So he sent forth an archer

Nine of them fell
By the arrows struck by Yi
The monarch skillfully removed the tenth arrow
The Earth was thus saved

Arup smiled
It'd be a nice story to tell Abhinanda

He remembered Arnab
For these few days he is the rider of the Sun
Would he be able to tame the Sun

All the seven hues of the Sun are said to be seven stallions
Could he find the Pushkar
From where the ethereal body of the captivating spectrum emanates

Abhinanda's mother enters

Have some tea
But the spot on the tip of the nose doesn't suit you
Try to remove it

Do you know, Barnali
That there are spots even on the Sun

What happened
All these days the whole environment is centering around the Sun
Is there a race between the pair of the Guru and his disciple
Leave aside Arnab
Even your artist brother
Has left with me a few masks carved out of Ironwood seed yesterday

It's the honorarium for the pictures
Snapped by you

He should have given us a little Ironwood oil
Would have been useful
In these days of crisis

What happened
Did you mind
That I said about
Bunch of bananas devoured by bats
The tea would turn into cold drink

Arup moves over to the table
Abhinanda dips a biscuit in the teacup

Would you take us to the
Land of Midnight Sun

Go there yourself when you grow up

What happened
Your thoughts have also induced her

Try to write as Bhanusingha did
You'd be able to go even if father doesn't

By the way
Who is Bhanusingha, Barnali
What is the day to-day
Isn't it Sunday- Rabibar

Bhanu means Sun
I am referring to the great Rabindranath Tagore

The Nobel he won
Isn't it awarded around the area referred by Abhi
Where the Midnight Sun is sighted

Arup smiles
How contagious these noble thoughts are
Even you are not spared

I don't know about noble thoughts
But the noble minds are like the blotting paper
It absorbs the ink that etches God in the form of words
But it is Sunday today
Today even the creator rested
Rest your brains too


Arnab comes back and puts his camera in its rightful place

Ma luckily it didn't rain today
The sky was overcast with dense clouds
The goldmohor along the riverbank had been a sight
Papa would have loved it very much

I remembered Shatanik uncle very much
Uncle always says that it is a divine scene
To see the goldmohor in the canvas of cloud
I realize only today
How true he was

The way the wind enveloped me
You'd go mad
I thought of surviving by clutching the hanging roots of the peepal tree
But what a surprise
The dark clouds moved away in a moment like in magic
Just a few droplets of rain fell on me

Perhaps you didn't know anything

Is it my darling
I would see how long your early morning outings continue
Now you'd go on to make up the deficit

Today is Sunday

Got to take rest
As I have toiled early in the morning

If anyone calls on
I have not returned from the temple of the Sun God
It would take some time
To wake up from the ashes of sleep

Arnab picks up a negative

It's not one
But millions of aves try to envelop
All the seven celestial stallions
Rising from some Pushkar


1 - Radheya - Karna, a very important character from Mahabharata, son of Kunti and the Sun God
2 - Kunti - Pandava's mother - wife of Pandu - also mother of Karna
3 - Kuber - the treasurer of the Gods
4 - Draupadi -wife ofPandava - Panchali
5 - Aswathama -son of Dronacharya
6 - Jarasandha -powerful king mentioned Mahabharata - born in two pieces lengthwise at two mother's
7 - Samba -scion of Krisna
8 - Dhritarashtrba - father of the Kauravas - Elder brother of Pandu-father of the Kauravas
9 - Gandhari - wife of Dhritarashtra - mother of the Kauravas
10 - Nabou - wife of elder brother
11- Narada - Son of Brahma - the greatest ascetic
12 - Jayadratha - A king on Kaurava's side who slain Abhimanyu the sixteen year old son of Arjuna, the third Pandava. Arjuna vowed that he would avenge his sons's death by taking Jayadratha's life before sundown the next day. Incidently, a solar eclipse occurred (that was described as Krishna hiding the Sun by his Sudarshan Chakra) and Arjuna was about to jump into a pyre as his vow was considered broken as the day was assumed to have ended. But the Sun emerged again and Arjuna, as per his vow severed Jayadratha's head with a single arrow as he was standing near to get a good view of Arjuna's final moments.So, the emergence of the Sun brought death to him.
13 - Partha - another name of Arjuna
14 - Sampati - A mythical bird mentioned in the Ramayana who fought with Ravana as he was carrying away Seeta, wife of Rama
Translated from original Assamese by Bibekananda Choudhury

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