The Temple Gods – Dave
Goran sat uneasily on the low bench at the side of the temple. He had seen the choosing ceremony many times before, but tonight he was a participant. Every year at the first dark of the moon following the blooming of the ancient tree that stood in the temple courtyard, the young men and women of the village who had passed their 18th summer came to the temple. After appropriate rituals, each young man was called forward. Reaching his hand into the sacred urn, the gods would guide him to choose a pandus leaf envelope in which was the name of one of the young women. The priest would open the fold and summon the chosen woman. The couple would then retire to one of the small thatched huts at the rear of the temple to consider the suitability of the Gods’ choice.
All were dressed carefully: no expense was spared in the elegance of the costumes. The women wore elaborately embroidered skirt-like wraps and bodices with an end that formed a head covering. The men wore a tunic sort of jacket and a loincloth. The sort of loincloth that was large and hung well down in front and back, like an apron, revealing very little. Most of the costumes were made by women who did that sort of thing and charged dearly. Goran’s was much plainer than most; his mother had done her best, but she was not a trained seamstress, and since his father’s death they could not afford better. This contributed to Goran’s unease – he was not going to be a good catch. No extensive fields, no grove of palms, no servant girls. Just a plot of land that sufficed to support him, his mother, and his two younger sisters. Who of the young women would consider him a suitable match? Perhaps Mella, who was rather plain and also poor. Nice enough, but… Not Turi, he hoped – she was rich enough, but homely and had a sharp, shrewish tongue.
Goran glanced across at the women on the other side of the room and chanced to catch the eye of Mora. She returned his glance with a stare, and her usual teasing smile. Certainly not Mora! And the Gods would never choose her for him.
As children they had played naked in the same group on the beach and under the trees. Clothes were never a necessity for the weather, so all the children were bare, girls until the age of 10 and the boys until they started to show the signs of starting manhood.
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Goran and Mora had been good friends as young children, but as they grew older, Goran found that Mora started to become a real tease, and it seemed that she always picked on him. It seemed that every time Goran had his head shaved, she would go after him and try to grab him by his long boylock. “Goran has a tail!” It didn’t seem to matter to her that all the other boys had shaved heads and boylocks too. Of course, he didn’t help his cause by trying to push her away and to cover his head. A couple of times when he had put his hands to his head she had grabbed him by the penis and tugged on that: “Goran has a tail!”
Goran could hardly wait until he was old enough for the “end of boyhood” ceremony. Twice a year, at the equinoxes, boys who had sprouted their first pubic hairs were “inducted” into the adolescent group. Their heads were shaved for the last time, along with their boylocks. From then on their hair would grow long and they donned the loincloth. Although the ceremony was performed by the priest, the children would conduct their own mock inspection ceremony a few days ahead. The other boys and girls too, would gang up on a boy and proceed to inspect him closely. That first spring most of the boys of Goran’s age were growing numerous dark hairs. Goran, however, was a little behind and had only one sole hair. The day before the ceremony, Goran was walking to the beach, when he was jumped on by a gang of other children. He was quickly overpowered and spreadeagled for inspection. “Only one!”, “Let me see”, lots of laughing and jostling. Then Mora pushed her way to the front. She had a way of dominating the other children. “I’m the official inspector! Oh, no! That’s not a hair, it’s a piece of grass!” With that, she reached out, grabbed the hair and yanked it out by the roots. Goran was devastated; 6 more months of being a little boy, of wearing the boylock, of being naked, of having to associate with the little children while his friends moved on to other activities.
The next 6 months seemed an eternity. Since everyone knew of his plucking, he was teased by all the children, and Mora seemed to be the ringleader in the teasing. She spent all her time with the adolescents, but seemed to go out of her way torment Goran, pulling his boylock, rubbing his bristly head, grabbing for his penis and pretending to count his hairs. Of which there were getting to be a lot. And Goran was growing in other ways, too, adding to his embarrassment when the girls called attention to his crotch. In later years, of course, the teasing mostly stopped, except for Mora, who could never resist an obvious glance towards his crotch, with her mocking laugh. Mora’s family had many fields, she was beautiful and would have been the choice of many of the young men
But now he was a man, and the Gods would choose him a woman. But would any woman accept Goran? Perhaps Mella, and maybe one or two of the others. Although the consequences of not accepting were not nice to contemplate. The unfortunate pair would return to the temple the next night and tell the priest that they renounced the Gods’ choice. Then they would lay their festive garments on the altar and, totally naked, the man would walk the woman through the streets of the village to her father’s house and then would walk alone to his own, to the accompaniment of the jeers and catcalls of the villagers. The humiliation was enough to have kept some couples together.
Goran awoke from his reverie with a start; the ceremony had come to the part where the first young man, Kojar, was called to the altar. When the Gods’ choice was called out by the priest – “Onnah” – Kojar smiled. An appropriate choice, since it was common knowledge that they had often slipped away from the others on festival nights. It seemed that the Gods had been watching the young people, because the next few choices were also appropriate. Then Votam’s turn came. He was rich and vain and had often bragged that the Gods would choose him a suitable beautiful and wealthy bride – Holla, Tura, or maybe Mora. He strode to the altar, reached into the jar and handed the priest the folded leaf. “For Votam, the Gods choose Turi!” Votam’s face reddened, and he turned his face away as the priest led Turi to the altar. Perhaps they would be making the walk the next night. And suddenly the priest was calling Goran’s name. His knees shook a bit as he walked to the altar and reached into the jar. He fingered several of the leaves, and finally took the one at the extreme back. He handed it to the priest and watched as the shaven-headed old man raised it to the altar and then opened it. “For Goran, the Gods choose… Mora!” Goran’s heart sank. He saw Mora give a little laugh and then she walked towards the altar with her usual mocking smile. The priest placed her hand in Goran’s, motioned them to their knees and made the usual blessing. Then they went from the back of the temple to the little thatched hut where they would spend the rest of the night and the next day. Neither spoke as Goran led the way into the hut. He sank down on a stool and dropped his head into his hands. Tomorrow his humiliation would be complete!
Mora looked around the hut, dimly lighted by a flickering lamp. “Food and drink, a bed mat and a bathing vat! We shall survive until tomorrow.”
“I expect you will not have me,” Goran said in a low voice.
Mora answered, “No, perhaps not. But the walk will be a short one for me since my house is close to the temple – you will have a bit farther to go.”
“But to go naked before all the people! Doesn’t that trouble you?” Goran looked up at her.
“Only a bit. But, Goran, you were naked all the time as a boy, and not that long ago!” Mora added with her mocking smile. “Come, let’s get used to it; that way tomorrow will not seem so bad!” She turned away from Goran as she flipped the head covering back from her shining dark hair, took the elaborate gold pin from the cloth at her breast and slowly unwrapped the bodice. She folded it carefully and placed it on a low bench. She tossed her hair back and walked towards Goran. Even in the dim light, he could not help gazing at her shapely tight breasts and dark nipples. She stopped an arm’s length away and undid the other pin at her hip. With a short laugh she unwrapped the skirt and swept it away to the side. “There, Goran, should I be ashamed to walk naked tomorrow?” Goran’s gaze dropped from her breasts to her smooth belly to the small mound of dark hair between her trim thighs. Goran was suddenly embarrassed and looked away.
She dropped the skirt on the bench and came back to Goran, closer this time, so that he could scent her faint perfume. “Your turn, now, Goran.” She untied the lacing at his throat and flipped the jacket off his shoulders. “And now the loincloth. Come, stand up!” Obediently, Goran rose to his feet. “Come, Goran, the loincloth!” Goran put his hands to his waist but then shook his head and dropped them to his sides again. “Then I shall do it for you!” She stepped even closer. Goran felt her breast against his arm as she pulled loose the end of the loincloth and started to unwrap it. She passed the end around his waist a couple of times and then suddenly the rest of the cloth fell away, leaving Goran naked and fully erect. Mora stepped back and surveyed him, still with her smile. “Well, Goran, you have grown a bit since last I saw you bare. You have more muscle and many will be jealous of you when you walk through the village. Especially of these!” Mora said, as she stepped forwards and dropped her hand onto his penis and slid it up to caress his balls. “But you should not let it stand out so tomorrow!
“And you certainly have a lot more hair down here!” She ran her fingers through his pubic hair. “I could not pull them all out now!”
Goran winced at the memory. “Why do you always mock me?” he asked. “And why did you pluck my hair that time when I was a boy?”
“To keep you naked for 6 more months! Come, let us bathe. I am still hot.” She took Goran’s hand and led him to the bathing vat, and they stepped down into it. The water felt cool to Goran after the heat of the temple and the events of the past few minutes. They lay in the water for a few minutes in a silence that was broken only by the splashing of the water from the hollow bamboo into the vat.
“Why must we walk naked tomorrow?” Goran asked.
“I have wondered about that, too, so I asked the head priest, who is also my uncle. He said that it is to symbolize that the couple is not ready to act as adults -that they are still as children. And since children go naked, so do we. But in the old times there was more. Not only did they walk naked as children, but they appeared as children as well. He worries that the old ways are being lost – that the young people no longer have the old beliefs, and that more couples defy the gods’ choice today. He wishes that the people would return to the old ways – in everything, not just this. And I agree with him. And so I took a sacred vow that I would follow the old ways. Come sit on the side of the vat”
Goran obeyed. Mora reached to a small bench beside the vat and returned with a gleaming small razor in her hand.
“What do you mean? What are you doing?”
“The tradition says that both the man and the woman must appear as children and children have no hair down here – I cannot go alone!”
“Sit still! I plucked you bald once, but I cannot do that now. Hold still or the razor may cut more than I intend!”
Before Goran had realized what she was about, she had the razor poised just above his penis. Realizing that struggling would be dangerous, he submitted to his fate. With smooth short strokes she slid the blade down through the fine hairs on his belly and down into the thicket of coarser hair below. Goran was instantly erect, but she matter-of-factly grabbed hold of him and pulled him this way and that, running the razor up the sides of his penis. The attention was almost too much for Goran, but just in time, Mora shifted her attention down below. Goran’s concern for his safety distracted his attention. Soon she was done, and splashed a gourdful of water on Goran to rinse away the remaining hairs. “There, Goran is a little boy again!” she said as she rubbed his smooth groin.
Mora hopped up onto the edge of the bathing vat. “Now you must make me equally smooth.” She handed Goran the razor, which he took gingerly. He was no stranger to the naked female body, but this was by far the closest encounter he had had. He knew that many of the young men had gone into the bush with a woman, but Goran had been such an outcast that he had never done so. He did, however, know how to use the razor. He stepped between Mora’s spread legs and gingerly laid the blade on her belly. Cautiously he slid it down, making short strokes across the width of her belly, pushing the hair ahead of the razor. Gradually the mound of hair vanished. Mora ran her hand down her smooth mound. “And you must shave down here, too.” She spread her legs even further and put Goran’s free hand where she meant. He gulped and knelt down in the tub to get a better view. The realization of what he was doing made his hands tremble, but cautiously he shaved away all the remaining hair. He stood up and looked at his crotch and at Mora’s.
“Well, we are smooth and naked like children again.”
“Come closer, I want to see who is the smoothest.” Mora reached out and seized Goran’s rigid erection. “Goran has a tail!” she laughed and pulled him even closer. She ran her other hand down his belly and under his balls. Then she felt her own shaven mound. She dropped her hand below and spread her lips. “I think we are equally smooth. Come here!” With that, she wrapped her legs around Goran’s buttocks and pulled him to her as she guided the tip of his penis to its target. Goran didn’t know if he was pushing or letting himself be pulled, as he felt himself slipping deeper and deeper into Mora’s loins. A couple of probing thrusts and his shaven groin touched her smooth skin. The recent events had Goran in such a state that he only lasted a few moments. His thrusting body was propelled by Mora’s clutching legs; his increasing pace matched by her insistent pulls. Then he seemed to explode within her, as he felt her feet beating a fierce rhythm on his backside. They held each other for a long time as Goran’s erection subsided. Then Mora’s legs released him and he drew away, breathless. Mora slipped from the edge of the tub into the water. “Not quite like children! Smooth and naked, yes, but… here, come into the pool and rinse yourself off.”
“That should not have happened if we are not to stay together,” Goran stammered.
“Perhaps the Gods are telling us something,” Mora smiled. She came over to him and reached around to rub Goran’s back. Then her hands found his crotch again and Goran felt himself becoming stiff again.
“I have wanted you ever since that last year when you were a boy. I liked to see you naked and wondered what you would feel like inside of me, especially as you began to grow more like a man. And the times I got to touch you, when we teased you. The best was when you got big and stiff, like this. But I hated to see your hairs grow because I knew that I would lose you. And then as we grew older, I teased you because I could not show how I really felt. It would never have done for us to go off together because of the difference in our families’ standing. It needed the intervention of the Gods to bring us together.”
“It was fortunate that the Gods knew.”
“Goran, do not be completely foolish. As I told you, the head priest is my uncle and he is a very wise old man, and a good friend to his niece, Mora. No one but he ever saw the names written on those slips.”
“Do you mean that the Gods did not really choose us?”
“I mean that the Gods do not always work in the way that we think they do.”
“And the others? Did the Gods choose for them?” Mora simply smiled.
“But why did we have to shave to be like children if you never meant to reject me? And why didn’t you tell me right away, Mora?”
“Perhaps I haven’t completely got over my habit of teasing you. But as for the shaving, I guess because I liked the way you looked. I wanted you smooth again and I wanted to be smooth too. Here, sit up on the edge.” She rubbed his smooth groin and then she leaned over and kissed him where the hair had been. Then with her lips she pushed his foreskin back, taking the bared tip of his penis deep into her mouth. In moments Goran was at the verge again, but she let him go, climbed from the pool and lowered herself onto him. This time their union lasted longer.
The rest of the night passed with a little sleep and lots of lovemaking. At last they slept well and awoke with the sun high in the sky. “There is one other task we must tend to – the sacrifice.” Mora glanced over at the low lacquered table on which sat the ceremonial razor on its tray.
“We each cut a lock of our hair to present to the gods as thanks for making a wise choice of partners, is that not right?” Goran replied.
“That is the new way, but it does not represent much of a sacrifice! We must return to the old ways, Goran. Come, let us go to the bathing pool and wet our heads, so the razor will do its work more smoothly.” Mora took him by the hand. “Soon you will be shaved again like you used to be, but without the boylock. I always liked to feel your newly shaved head and wondered what it was like to have the freedom of being shaved.”
Goran nodded, “I liked having my hair cut. Sometimes when it had been a long time, I would ask my father to shave me again. But did the man always shave his whole head in the old days? No one has done that since I remember.”
“My uncle says that that is what used to be, and not just the man, Goran. Both would sacrifice all their hair, and that is what we shall do, in honor of the old ways.”
Goran shook his head. “But your hair is so long and silky. It must be the envy of all the women, and no woman in the village except the priestess has a shaved head. You do not need to do this. Won’t it be enough if I do it to satisfy the Gods and the old ways?”
“No, Goran, we both will do it, or else we will walk naked tonight. And that must not happen! I want you Goran, but I also want to shave our heads. I envied you so much as a boy, but of course, it was only boys who had their heads shaved. So come, no more objections, let us wet our heads for the razor.” She hopped down into the water and poured a gourdful over her head. Goran reluctantly stepped down into the pool.
“I wonder how much your adherence to the old ways has to do with devotion to the gods and how much with shaving off our hair!”
Mora flashed the old familiar teasing smile, and with a laugh tossed the gourd of water in Goran’s face. He spluttered as she poured more on his head. “Goran, you will have to learn not to ask me quite so many questions! Come, I will shave you first. And do not worry, I have even shaved my brother’s head when our father was away.”
She climbed from the pool and took up the gleaming razor. Goran tossed his hair out of his face and followed her to obediently sit on the mat before her. Mora placed the blade at his forehead and slid it back. It moved almost effortlessly along his head as she captured the severed locks and dropped them onto the cloth beside her. Goran touched his head and smiled as he felt the ever-so-slightly rough smoothness that he remembered from his youth. The blade moved easily over his head as the pile of hair grew to impressive size. At last she pronounced him done and Goran ran his hands over his head. All was smoothness except… she had left one lock of hair – a boylock! Goran started to splutter and protest as Mora laughed her teasing laugh. “I could not resist! Come back and I will make a man out of you!” Goran bent his head and with two passes of the blade the lock was added to the pile. “And now you must shave me,” said Mora as she took her place on the mat.
Goran looked down at Mora. Her sleek brown hair was dark from the wetness and it fell well below her shoulders. He took the razor in his hand, but hesitated for a long while. “Are you certain that you want to do this?” he asked.
“Goran, if you love me, shave me!” Reluctantly Goran placed the blade on the line of scalp at the center of her head where her wet locks had a parting, and slid it a finger’s width to the side. The ends of the hair rode up onto the blade as it moved and when he lifted it away, the lock of hair came free, leaving behind a patch of her smooth light brown skin. This was all that most would do for the sacrifice and it was never visible. It occurred to him also, that this was all that the men would do, as well, and here he was, totally bald. Well, Mora wanted her head shaved, so he would do it! The razor widened the bare patch, from the center of her head all the way to the top of the side. Goran carefully worked his way forward, freeing the long locks from her scalp and laying them carefully on the white cloth beside his own. Soon half of the top of her head was bare and smooth. Mora’s smooth tan skin now flowed from her forehead all the way back to the crown of her head and Goran began to see the hair sprouting from the rest of her scalp as somehow as not belonging there, as spoiling the smoothness.
He turned her head to make it easier to slide the razor over the rest of the top of her head. Soon the top of Mora’s head was smooth. She reached up and felt of it. “YES! This is right!” she gasped. She tugged at the long hair on the back of her head. “Shave this away too, quickly!” She bent her head and Goran ran the gleaming blade down the back of her head, all the way to the nape of her neck, the long damp locks falling away like grain before the blades of the reapers. Carefully around her delicate ears, and before long Mora was as bald as Goran himself. He pronounced her done and she knelt to look at her reflection in the pool. Then she turned to face Goran.
“What do you think? Do I still look beautiful at all?”
Goran stared at her and smiled. “Yes, your head has a lovely shape that now shows and your eyes are even more lovely.” She rubbed her hands over her head and then came to Goran and rubbed his. Goran pulled her to him and led her to the mat again. He entered her again; each rubbed the other’s shaved scalp as they made love. He liked the feeling of his own baldness and grew more and more to like Mora’s smooth head. But their hair would grow again soon enough – too soon?
As they lay there, a thought occurred to Goran. “We have made the sacrifice to show that we accept the gods’ choice, but how are we to live? My mother’s lands can barely support her.”
Mora smiled. “Once again, I have thought of everything, Goran. You know that my uncle grows old, as does his wife. Before long the temple will need a new priest and priestess. I have spoken with him and he will take us as his disciples. The people’s gifts to the temple are enough to support us also.”
“And the priest and priestess have shaven heads! Did you think of that, also?”
Mora laughed. “I told you I have thought of everything! We will shave each other’s heads every day because it is the tradition. People will think that we do it because we must, but we will know that we do it because we want to. And the gods will approve, and they won’t care if we shave down below too. Come, we have time to make love again before we return to the temple and astonish the people with our sacrifice!”