In my teens, I begin reading one of your Darshan diaries: intimate conversations with sincere, seeking hippy types in the seventies. You coax and love and provoke, and they respond anywhere within the spectrum from woodenness to liquid gold. Life stories emerge fragmentarily and tenderly.
Then, listening to the beat-up old audio tapes that Nick lent, I heard some of the reality of your speaking. As if caressing, and yet so spacious, centred, listening, waiting, unhurried. A group of admittedly besotted seekers made their listening a meditation in itself, a heart practice, allowing the words to arrive and be felt, suspending judgement and assuming love, goodness. Likewise, your words were in no rush.
In the long pauses, the sounds of the city – rickshaws passing with buzzing engines and bip-bip horns, that beautiful bird with the ascending series of boo-oop, boo-oop, boo-oop, boo-oop to its call. And the wind or rain arriving. As I listened myself, at home in my seventeen year old, barely-formed body and soul, I was entranced.
I stop, and you speak softly, your voice with that dove-like, cooing quality of some from India – perhaps from a more constricted internal shaping of the mouth than I’m used to.
“I am having trouble with my eyes.” you say, pointing at the now-evident milky signs of cataract. “I need to go to hospital for an operation, but it is very expensive. Can you help me?”
“How much do you need?”
“Ten thousand rupees.”
I hesitate. This is a reasonable chunk of my travel budget.
A passing rickshaw driver stops and intercedes. “He is a good man. You should give him 20 rupees.”
You gesture him away discreetly.
I reach into my money belt and begin counting out the crisp brown notes.
B was on guard duty outside the side gate, sat with another under the huge, blue umbrella. The monsoon rains downpoured deliciously, with force, washing away everything. I soaked up her presence, delighting in being wanted, included.
Strong winds stirred the huge, tree-like bamboos surrounding the meditation hall. The tethered canvas roof blustered as they creaked.
The smell of spices and rickshaw fumes and open sewers mingled with the spray.
How it felt to be with another, watchfully, in silence but in togetherness. Seeing the locals pass, watching other watchers quietly taking care, protecting, as fellow-seekers flailed and gibbered and fell into silence. Then, the highly amplified voice as Osho began to talk: “Deeper! Deeper! Like an arrow, right to the very centre of your being! In this very moment, you are the Buddha!” Eyes closed, I follow.
Thoughts drift to B in the shower, making love, her waist-long hair plastering against wet skin, the water draining away in the centre of the polished concrete floor. We climb out onto the roof terrace and watch the moon.
I don’t even know what that instrument’s called. Some kind of hand held, plucked string, gourded, drum skinned thing. Tambor? You were clearly seeking to seduce us, approaching, gazing, singing, playing as we walked – in our own practised openness – to the ashram gates.
I passed you many a time and met your smiling eyes. You sang softly, lovingly, with what felt like (but clearly I can’t mean) literally an open heart. Some perception I had of the way you held your chest, of posture – or some sixth sense? – makes me say it so.
I’d be walking in, perhaps wheeling my bike – although I can’t recall where I might have then parked it – tuning in to beauty and approaching the ashram I felt as some greater embracing heart. Openness. Softness. Femininity. At the “post office” stall inside, I’d sit tightly enclosed with my boss and sometime lover, and watch the rain falling on marble paving and lily pads. Besotted and undefended. Her blowing hot and cold rendering me weak, until petulantly striking out. And one outburst from my side was enough to bring all to an end: “You want a proper girlfriend.” And so the other guy wins.
I just couldn’t swallow it, condone it, that you’d voluntarily been sterilised in – what – your twenties? You said you felt free, and perhaps now dedicated your life to a path of enlightenment, but I just couldn’t make it feel right. I’d heard tales of childless women mourning having been misled in this way, and it horrified me to hear your choice. But it was yours, of course.
But you, singing Indian man with the wild hair – you played us all, played me, each morning on the way. Wending past the vendors selling tacky robes and poorly tuned flutes, dodging rickshaws and passing the money lender’s grand gates. You were one of the few who asked for nothing.