Little Mimi sits on the bank, sucking her thumb and looking glum.
“Little One,” says the monk who sits beside her, “have you lost your coin?”
She shakes her head. “No. I’m praying.”
The monk looks behind him at the temples there, and back at the girl beside Mekong River. ‘To whom do you pray?”
“To the seven-headed naga.”
“Oh?” The monk thought he understood her reason. “You want for someone to take you across the river? Then your prayer is answered; I’ll readily do so.”
But the girl shook her head. “I want the seven-headed naga to take me to naga-loka.”
“You wish to die?” The monk was amazed.
“No,” said the girl. “I wish to see all the gems and gold and other treasures there.” And she sighed.
130 words, written for What Pegman Saw: Vientiane Laos
It is said that a seven-headed naga told the prince Thattaradtha to build a new city on the banks of the Mekong. That city was, eventually, to become the modern Vientiane.
Nagas are found throughout Hindu and Buddhist mythology; semi-divines, or a race of half-human half-serpent beings, they reside in naga-loka, an underground realm filled with gold and gems and all precious things.