Chapter 20: The Sphinx and The Riddle
As Maya looked up at the olives hanging high above longingly albeit helplessly, she was struck with a sudden thought. Remembering what little she knew of lore, she decided on what felt like one more reckless course of action. Ah well, what’s another terror? The continuous expose that her brain had towards the stuff of most nightmares and beyond had atleast given her the benefit of a vague numbness towards deadly peril.
Decided on the plan, Maya quickly swung into action. She summoned the most wise and the most deadly of mythological creatures for help. When she opened her eyes, she saw the huge form awaiting her with a predatory glare. The Sphinx had arrived.
The creature smiled at her knowingly and yet seemed to wait for her to approach. Maya gritted her teeth and bowed before the creature.
“Esteemed Sphinx, the wisest of all ancient creatures, I need your help. I have come here seeking wisdom for which I need the olives on this tree. Yet, I cannot reach it. It’s so near and yet so far. Can you help me?”
“Help cannot be obtained. Only just rewards may be obtained if you answer my question. Surely you must have known this when you summoned me. I will pose a question. Answer me correctly and I will get you the olives you seek. Answer me wrongly and I will devour you. Refuse to answer and you may walk away unharmed but that would mean you can never get the olives and the wisdom you seek forever. ”
Armed with nothing but a steely resolve against the huge creature, Maya spoke.
“Of course. I am ready. Pose your question.”
“There are two sisters. One gives birth to the other and she in turn gives birth to the first. Who are they?”
Maya was flummoxed.
“Can you give me a clue?”
“You may ask me one question only which will not be to request a direct answer to my question.”
Maya thought. As minutes ticked by, the sphinx settled herself down more comfortably.
Finally, Maya decided.
“Is your question in anyway related to any mythological characters? Or are they related to natural phenomena?”
Maya balked at her train of thoughts on this answer. She walked a few paces away from the creature and started to talk to herself.
“Ok, I can figure this out. She said, one gives birth to the other and she in turn gives birth to the first. This clearly indicates some sort of recurring sequence or events occurring in a loop. As she said, this refers to both a natural phenomenon as well as a mythological character, I can find this if I can think through clearly.”
As Maya debated with herself as hours passed, a lone ray of the setting sun shone through a crack in the rock face. Maya stared at it for a second before jumping in joy.
“Madame Sphinx, I have the answer.”
Praying fervently to all the gods she had seen so far, Maya said –
“The answer is day and night, a natural phenomena. Or Hemera and Nyx as you might say.”
There was a long silence while Maya waited in an agony of feverish excitement. The Sphinx drew closer and suddenly bared her fangs and clicked her claws.
“I am a goner!” thought an again-terrified Maya.