“He’s with you, don’t worry,” said Siddhartha.
Kamala looked into his eyes. She spoke with a heavy tongue, paralysed by the poison. “You’ve become old, my dear,” she said, “you’ve become gray. But you are like the young Samana, who at one time came without clothes, with dusty feet, to me into the garden. You are much more like him, than you were like him at that time when you had left me and Kamaswami. In the eyes, you’re like him, Siddhartha. Alas, I have also grown old, old—could you still recognise me?”
Siddhartha smiled: “Instantly, I recognised you, Kamala, my dear.”
Kamala pointed to her boy and said: “Did you recognise him as well? He is your son.”
Her eyes became confused and fell shut. The boy wept, Siddhartha took him on his knees, let him weep, petted his hair, and at the sight of the child’s face, a Brahman prayer came to his mind, which he had learned a long time ago, when he had been a little boy himself. Slowly, with a singing voice, he started to speak; from his past and childhood, the words came flowing to him. And with that singsong, the boy became calm, was only now and then uttering a sob and fell asleep. Siddhartha placed him on Vasudeva’s bed. Vasudeva stood by the stove and cooked rice. Siddhartha gave him a look, which he returned with a smile.
“She’ll die,” Siddhartha said quietly.
Vasudeva nodded; over his friendly face ran the light of the stove’s fire.
Once again, Kamala returned to consciousness. Pain distorted her face, Siddhartha’s eyes read the suffering on her mouth, on her pale cheeks. Quietly, he read it, attentively, waiting, his mind becoming one with her suffering. Kamala felt it, her gaze sought his eyes.
Looking at him, she said: “Now I see that your eyes have changed as well. They’ve become completely different. By what do I still recognise that you’re Siddhartha? It’s you, and it’s not you.”
Siddhartha said nothing, quietly his eyes looked at hers.
“You have achieved it?” she asked. “You have found peace?”
He smiled and placed his hand on hers.
“I’m seeing it,” she said, “I’m seeing it. I too will find peace.”
“You have found it,” Siddhartha spoke in a whisper.
Kamala never stopped looking into his eyes. She thought about her pilgrimage to Gotama, which wanted to take, in order to see the face of the perfected one, to breathe his peace, and she thought that she had now found him in his place, and that it was good, just as good, as if she had seen the other one. She wanted to tell this to him, but the tongue no longer obeyed her will. Without speaking, she looked at him, and he saw the life fading from her eyes. When the final pain filled her eyes and made them grow dim, when the final shiver ran through her limbs, his finger closed her eyelids.
For a long time, he sat and looked at her peacefully dead face. For a long time, he observed her mouth, her old, tired mouth, with those lips, which had become thin, and he remembered, that he used to, in the spring of his years, compare this mouth with a freshly cracked fig. For a long time, he sat, read in the pale face, in the tired wrinkles, filled himself with this sight, saw his own face lying in the same manner, just as white, just as quenched out, and saw at the same time his face and hers being young, with red lips, with fiery eyes, and the feeling of this both being present and at the same time real, the feeling of eternity, completely filled every aspect of his being. Deeply he felt, more deeply than ever before, in this hour, the indestructibility of every life, the eternity of every moment.
When he rose, Vasudeva had prepared rice for him. But Siddhartha did not eat. In the stable, where their goat stood, the two old men prepared beds of straw for themselves, and Vasudeva lay himself down to sleep. But Siddhartha went outside and sat this night before the hut, listening to the river, surrounded by the past, touched and encircled by all times of his life at the same time. But occasionally, he rose, stepped to the door of the hut and listened, whether the boy was sleeping.
Early in the morning, even before the sun could be seen, Vasudeva came out of the stable and walked over to his friend.
“You haven’t slept,” he said.
“No, Vasudeva. I sat here, I was listening to the river. A lot it has told me, deeply it has filled me with the healing thought, with the thought of oneness.”
“You’ve experienced suffering, Siddhartha, but I see: no sadness has entered your heart.”
“No, my dear, how should I be sad? I, who have been rich and happy, have become even richer and happier now. My son has been given to me.”