Volume 3 Issue 3 December 2014
Table of Contents:
Table of Contents:
A Short Story
by Douglas Mcelheny
(This is a spiritual parody of the film Slumdog Millionare, and no infringment of copyright is intended. Rather the intent behind this story was twofold. First to expose some things about romantic love that most of us know but don’t like to look at and secondly to show what really defines India, which isn’t slums, corruption, organized crime or even religion but rather her spirituality. I feel this justifies fair use in this case.)
Deepika as a rule didn’t give money to beggars unless they were old or crippled, but the sight of the young man (who obviously wasn’t a sadhu) had her reaching for her wallet in spite of herself. It wasn’t his appearance though that reached her heart. In truth, his matted hair strewn with lice eggs, scraggly beard, and vomit stained remains of a t-shirt were more likely to evoke revulsion than compassion. What got Deepika breaking her rule was rather the aura of tremendous emotional suffering that surrounded and emanated from him.
Experiencing a rare moment of genuine pity, Deepika bent over and dropped a five rupee coin into the metal bowl in front of the young man. He was staring at the ground but after the coin clinked into his bowl he suddenly looked up. Deepika smiled at him compassionately but her smile changed into a pensive frown as she realized he looked awfully familiar. Then her eyes widened and her mouth gaped as recognition hit her like a blow.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “You’re Jamal Malik!”
Then stammering she said, “Oh...oh you poor boy! What that girl did to you was just terrible. I’m so sorry! I...I...”
But Jamal said nothing; he just stared at her with a dull vacant expression. Deepika found it quite unnerving and turned around and quickly left. Jamal disinterestedly watched her go. Then, once she disappeared into the thronging crowd of people coming in and out of the train station, he shifted his gaze back to the crack in the cement in front of him intending to let the surge of wrath, self-pity, and broken heartedness in which he had spent most of the last six months engulf him once again. But then his nose caught a familiar scent of cologne. Jamal remembered instantly where he had smelled that cologne before and was filled with a boiling, seething hatred. Grinding his teeth Jamal slowly looked up into the sunglass covered eyes of Prem Kumar, the host of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.
With a self-satisfied grin Kumar said, “Hello Jamal. You’re looking well.”
“You bastard,” Jamal said, “I ought to kill you right now.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t try that if I were you Jamal,” Kumar said and then turned his head indicating over his right shoulder. Jamal looked and saw two police officers. One was shooing away curious onlookers and the other was glaring at Jamal and tapping his nightstick in his hand.
“If you even look at me funny, those two will have you down at the police station faster than you can say ‘Latika’”, Kumar growled threateningly. “And what you got last time will seem like a swedish massage compared to what these two will do to you.”
The thought of being tortured again put a check on Jamal’s anger. Still fuming, but cowed, he looked down at the ground. His mind went back into the past remembering the seemingly heartfelt letter he had received from Kumar expressing his profound guilt and regret over how he had tried to trick Jamal on the cricket question and then had Jamal tortured and interrogated by the police. The letter ended with a request that Jamal please come with his lady to have dinner with Kumar at his home as a token of his goodwill. The letter had seemed so sincere that Jamal found it impossible to refuse. But it had been a lie. All Kumar had wanted was to get to her.
Indignant, Jamal looked up at Kumar and angrily asked him, “Why have you come here? Isn’t it enough that you took her from me and got her to steal the money? You have to come down here and gloat as well?”
“Actually Jamal,” Kumar said, “Taking the money was her idea.”
Jamal stared at him in disbelief. Kumar just chuckled, and squatting down in front of Jamal he said, “Oh Jamal, you really are naive aren’t you? Money’s what counts in this world my boy and Latika knows that. All her life she was dependent on others, controlled by others. First Maman, then Javed. You think after all that she would want to be dependent on you or me or anyone else ever again?”
Jamal dumbfounded just looked at the ground.
Kumar continued, “And now of course you’re wondering how she could ever have left you at all. After all she loved you didn’t she?”
“She never loved me,” Jamal said.
“Now don’t be so foolish Jamal. Of course she loved you,” Kumar said, “But love my boy is a very fickle and fleeting thing. You see Jamal poor Latika suffered so much for so many years she needed something to hold onto, something to give her hope. And that was you, her true love, her knight in shining armor. The problem is though that once she got you she realized that the fantasy had been more satisfying than having the real thing. The truth is Jamal women don’t like a nice guy. There’s no challenge in it. And the sad fact is you were just too boring for her Jamal, even in bed you were too boring. Ah Jamal let me tell you, you don’t know what you missed in that regard! It’s always the quiet ones who are the real champs!”
“That’s enough!” Jamal said looking up angrily.
“Easy Jamal easy!” Kumar said, “Believe it or not I’ve come here today with your best interests at heart. What you’ve needed Jamal is a lesson in reality and since I have been the author of your downfall I owed you no less than that didn’t I?”
“All right then, you’ve given me your lesson and humiliated me even more in the process. Is it enough for you now?” Jamal asked.
“Well actually there was one more thing,” Kumar said, grinning once again. “Like everyone else I know you’ve fallen on hard times so I thought I should lend a hand.”
Kumar then took a one rupee coin out of his pocket and flicked it into Jamal’s begging bowl.
“Don’t spend it all in once place,” he said. Then he got up and began to walk away.
At this final insult Jamal’s rage flared up again and in that moment he couldn’t have cared less about going to jail or being tortured. He started to rise but then as quickly as it came the rage was expunged like a candle flame by the wind and he sank back down defeated.
“At least,” he thought, “I’m one rupee closer to a bottle of wine.”
Jamal eventually got his bottle of wine and after guzzling it down passed out outside the train station. He managed to sleep until about 2am when he was awakened by the deranged shouting of one of the other derelicts. As the shouting continued he lay still, not wanting to worsen his splitting headache. Then he noticed there was something in his hand.
He slowly sat up and saw it was a small sheet of paper. In the darkness he couldn’t read it so he got up and staggered over to a streetlight. Under the humming fluorescent light he saw it was a flyer from the Ramakrishna Math, put in his hand by some annoying do-gooder no doubt. The flyer had the name and address of the Math as well as the famous photo of Ramakrishna sitting cross legged. The sight of the Hindu saint brought up a sharp stab of pain and hatred as he recalled his mother’s death at the hands of Hindus during an anti-Muslim riot. His first impulse was to toss the flyer away but his eyes were drawn to a quotation on the flyer which he found himself reading in spite of himself. It said:
The mind can disentangle itself from worldliness if, through Her grace, She makes it turn toward Herself. Only then does it become devoted to the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother.
Jamal snorted contemptuously, crumpled up the little flyer and tossed it onto a small heap of refuse. Feeling around in the bag where he kept his few possessions he found he still had a few rupees. It was enough to get some tiffin, but nowhere was open yet. Despite his hangover he was wide awake and the guy was still shouting so he decided to take a walk.
As Jamal walked through the sleeping streets the feelings of betrayal and anger rose and took possession of his thoughts. For the millionth time he agonized over how things could have turned out like this when it seemed that the hand of God itself had brought he and Latika back together. But the fairy tale ending on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire had just been the beginning. After he and Latika were reunited the world itself had sat up and taken notice for a while due to the incredibleness of the story. Heartfelt letters had come pouring in by the thousands from people who’d been inspired by a tale which had renewed their faith in God and love. He and Latika had been media darlings appearing on talk shows both in India and abroad. They were in negotiations for a book deal and a movie. The Colors network had offered to pay for a lavish wedding and reception which would come as the finale of a reality TV show about the planning and preparations for the nuptials. Colors was also going to foot the bill for a dream honeymoon in Paris. It had all seemed more perfect and magnificent then he could have ever possibly imagined.
Then he woke up one day and she was gone. No note, no explanation, nothing, just gone. That had been devastating enough, but it only got worse when he discovered first that she had emptied their joint bank account and second that she had ended up in the arms of Prem Kumar.
At this point Jamal was so caught up in his mental story he was walking on automatic pilot, and for all intents and purposes oblivious to his surroundings. Then he kicked a glass soda bottle that had rolled into the street and was brought by that sharp pain back to physical reality. He quickly sat down on the curb. The worst of the pain in his big toe subsided quickly and though it felt sore he could move it so it didn’t seem to be anything too serious.
It was then he realized how incredibly thirsty he was. He looked around in hopes of finding somewhere open but all was closed and quiet. He saw across the street though a Hindu temple and it occurred to him that perhaps there was a Brahmin priest there he could rouse who would give him some water. His Hindu aversion flared up again but his body’s need unceremoniously shoved that aside. He walked across the street to the gate of the temple and called hello a couple of times but no one answered. There were a few lights on inside illumining the temple and Jamal found his eyes wandering about the scene. His gaze settled on the main statue which was one of Kali. His breath caught for a moment with a little bit of awe as he remembered the flyer from earlier. Then a feeling of stinging bitterness toward God arose and addressing the idol he said with rising anger:
“So we meet for the second time tonight Mother Kali, Kali the Destroyer. Well you’ve done a good job of that haven’t you? All my life you’ve taken from me, first my mother, then my brother, then Latika and my money. You played me for a fool, led me on by the promise of love, let me believe in a lie. So tell me Mother are you happy with your work, happy with how completely you’ve destroyed me?”
Then he paused as a rather profane thought crossed his mind. With a devious smirk that had a hint of madness he stepped back from the gate, and bowing with mocking reverence he said, “So now Mother Kali I will leave an offering for you. A fit offering as thanks for all the blessings you’ve bestowed upon me.”
And with that Jamal hiked up his lungi, squatted down and defecated on the doorstep of the temple looking Kali squarely in the eye and chuckling and grunting as he did so.
Pleased with his work Jamal stood and mockingly addressed the idol again. “Ah yes a fit offering indeed for you Mother Kali in dear thanks for your boundless grace!”
Then his scorn rose again and sneering at the idol he said, “And not just for you but that heartless bitch Latika as well. If there is a hell I hope you two burn there together! Fuck her, fuck love and most of all FUCK YOU KALI!”
And with that he turned from the gate and stormed off, but after a few steps he was taken by the urge to partake of one last spiteful act. Jamal spun around intending to spit in contempt at the temple, but his foot caught on a crack in the sidewalk, and he went flailing forward face first into the pile of his own excrement.
For a few seconds he lay there too stunned by pain and surprise to move. Then he slowly lifted his head out of his feces, and at that moment Jamal Malik hit rock, rock bottom. He fell to his side in the fetal position and with a cry of rending anguish and despair at all he had lost and how far he had fallen, Jamal began to weep. But this was no ordinary weeping, this was a literal gushing river of tears and sobs he could not have staunched even if he’d wanted to. As the grief poured forth Jamal felt his head begin to vibrate, and then that vibration spread first to his chest, then into his arms and trunk until his entire upper body was vibrating intensely. The weeping continued for about ten minutes more and then subsided almost as suddenly as it had come.
Jamal lay there for a few moments as his upper body continued to vibrate intensely. After a short time though the intensity began to diminish and he slowly sat up and realized he felt better than he had in a long, long time. He felt purged, cleansed, like a burden had lifted from him. He felt a lightness inside him and a quietude of his normally grinding thoughts and the siege of his negative emotions. With some discarded newspaper that was laying on the ground he wiped the excrement from his face and then got up and slowly walked away from the temple.
He walked through the streets on automatic pilot again but in a different way than before. Whereas earlier he had been walking along lost in his mental story, now he was sort of lost in his senses, seeing a strange sort of beauty in the ugliness and filth of the Mumbai streets. And as he walked something else arose, something he felt rather than saw. It was a warm loving presence he felt all around him that was watching over him, keeping him safe. He even felt at one point what seemed like a formless finger caress his check and an unseen hand nudge him ever so slightly to the right to keep him from slipping off the curb. Then slowly that presence faded and was replaced by a wonderful joy as he realized he’d tasted the presence and love of the Divine Mother. Now his mind became more active and a number of realizations suddenly came to light. He recalled the horror of seeing his mother killed and the trauma of that loss and realized his fixation on Latika had been an attempt to fill that void and assuage that grief. He also saw crystal clearly that no human being whether his mother, Latika, or anyone else, could ever fill that void inside him or give him any lasting satisfaction. And with astonishment he saw that the Divine had been holding his hand all along, first through the false promise of Latika and then through the complete destruction of his life in order to bring him to the point where he could see that this love of God he had experienced earlier, this incredible motherly love, this, THIS was the love he wanted!
Jamal paused and realized his meanderings had taken him almost back to the train station. He remembered the small flyer from the Ramakrishna Math he had so contemptuously tossed on the trash heap and he made haste to the station to hopefully retrieve what he now realized has been a precious gift. When he got there to his joy and relief he found the crumpled piece of paper. He smoothed it out as best he could and read the message again:
The mind can disentangle itself from worldliness if, through Her grace, She makes it turn toward Herself. Only then does it become devoted to the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother.
Once gain tears streamed down Jamal’s cheeks, but these were tears of gratitude. He kissed the flyer and said, “Thank you Divine Mother. Oh thank you so much!”
Then with shame he recalled his desecration of the Kali temple and, putting the flyer in his bag, he set off to find it. He knew more or less the general area it had been in and was able to finally come upon it. It was still dark when he arrived but he was pleased to find the temple’s priest was just then arriving and was eyeing Jamal’s offering on the temple’s doorstep. Falling all over himself apologizing Jamal told the priest who he was and admitted what he had done and said he would clean up the mess right away. The priest of course knew who Jamal was but he was understandably a bit wary. There was such a radiance though about the boy shining through the exterior of a vagrant that the priest couldn’t help but agree.
Jamal quickly cleaned up the mess and then proceeded to tell the priest the whole story starting with awakening to find the flyer in his hand. The priest was fascinated but also at the same time a bit miffed, since nothing like that had ever happened to him. He was able to put that aside though and asked Jamal what he wanted to do next. Jamal voiced his desire to get off the streets and get his life back together. The priest thought for a moment and then led Jamal to the back and gave him a fresh lungi and told him to take a bath. Jamal did so and afterwards the priest gave him 1,000 rupees and told him to get some breakfast and to go to the market afterwards and get himself a set of shirt, trousers and sandals along with a haircut and a shave. Jamal did so and then returned to the temple getting a lot of attention along the way, as he was now easily recognizable without the matted hair and beard.
When he got to the temple he changed into his new clothes. The priest then handed him a new shoulder bag with something in it. Jamal looked inside to find a worn copy of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna as well as the flyer from the Ramakrishna Math. Deeply touched Jamal embraced the priest and thanked him for everything he had done for him. Jamal had about 100 rupees left over and tried to return it to the priest, but the priest refused and even insisted that Jamal take 100 more and he did so graciously. Then with a Namaste they parted.
As he walked away from the temple Jamal suddenly realized he had no idea what he was going to do next. A tendril of fear crept into his heart but then he remembered feeling God’s love, and it passed. He paused for a moment as he wondered why the experience had been so fleeting. Why wasn’t he conscious of that presence and love all the time? What did he need to do to have it again? He didn’t know but he was determined to find the answer. The more pressing question at the moment though was what to do now?
As he pondered this it occurred to him that he should go to the call center where he used to work as a chai-wallah and see if he could get a job there, not as a chai-wallah though. He was after all a celebrity. Even if that didn’t work out, he knew he could find something. His downfall was no doubt well known and there would be plenty of people who would be willing to help him get back on his feet.
So with faith and hope Jamal Malik set out on his way on the spiritual path not as a Muslim or a converted Hindu but in a way that would be unique to him and not tied down to any particular religion. He didn’t know where life would take him but he knew now that the Divine Mother was loving him and watching over him and that all he needed to do was to rely on Her. He’d had a glimpse and that was enough to begin.
What You Can Do
by Donny Duke
(Dramatic verse, this poem has multiple speakers, but only the audience is in quotation marks. The other speakers, i.e. the poet, his divine, ideas, etc. are not in quotes, but by reading repeat slow, i.e., as one reads a poem, you can gather who it is that is speaking even when it's Ambiguity.)
The earth its glory,
I just put on the program.
We’ll try to reveal secrets
“Show me the money.”
Loose ends over here,
Look at that.
A ton of see
And there I am picking my nose.
Do you know how long this take to caliphate?
Some 20 odd years.
That’s not the end of the program –
All this soul on God.
Makes it individual.
Putin can’t resist his race.
“I can see the possibility of change wearing a suit.”
Putin can’t resist his change.
Mine comes before the lawnmower.
That’s a safe program
Inside the barcode.
“And he’ll kill you
Before you get it put on your shoulders.”
Grab that gun
It’s not going to harm anyone.
With all this voice,
With all this holy see.
Think it’s incredible,
Or become a person,
A windowless streak
Hear our pain.
You watch it you listen
To front street.
I don’t know how long ago the slogan.
Waiting on the slogan
I’m peaches and cream.
That’s just all wrapped around my shorts.
This is not a confession knocking on wood –
Knocking on the door
Of a new reality in morality:
In everything you do wrong.
Those are our ideas meet infinity,
Not gathered by the moments.
A bit complicated,
Since you’re not here to do wrong.
Introducing soul clean,
The divine guide.
“What are you talking about?”
It could be a racehorse,
There’s Friday tomorrow.
Now open the inner consciousness.
Visions and things
You count their ship.
Mysticism you’ve been labeled before.
No matter what you call it
It’s down deep.
You don’t slow program
Alone inside yourself
You’ve got to reach deep.
Any number of humiliations,
And sometimes mountain see.
“What are you doing in your room?”
Settle down a racehorse.
Fold half your life
That means airhead
Some continually changing variables
Giving half to one
Half to the other,
Outer life and dream.
Dreamtime a notebook.
The next phase around the clock
An inner outer.
There is your inside
In everything you do throughout the day.
Don’t chop down trees yet
Either before or after mailroom
Bring your conscious down into the well of soul.
A tricky journey for some –
So many adherents.
Can I give you instructions to soul?
What we caress:
This is larger than dream.
It’s not a vision you have in the night.
There’s formlessness involved.
It goes like this:
Change your room
Not a different reality
Spirit has no matter aboard.
Splash in here,
Forms take on new meaning:
Reflections of this.
What you swim in.
Not a new place,
This is a good night’s sleep.
Your whole development,
Your whole deployment
On that arc of sleep.
You will never
Remember even a calling card.
This you have to take down yourself.
You wouldn’t get caught with your pants down here.
Inner exploration’s not in a rulebook.
“Okay what calls the shots?”
There’s an inner notion
How do you pass this test?
You go nature on clean,
Their loving hand.
Clean not for a pose in morality
But to get you clean.
What is it thou hast in thy heart for me?
Now clean now come take a look.
It’s a litmus test
Not a morality rite.
Muddy water cannot show you the moon on a pale enchanted eve,
No sparkles of the sun giving rise to vision’s old tired eyes.
Come vision, come closer.
Beyond vision’s arc,
Outstretched to divinity
But farther than their field,
Is the earth child’s labors towards.
New upon the horizon
As old as time forgot,
Jutting out from timelessness,
Is something larger than Time.
“Why you want me to put you on?”
Why it internationally spoke:
It’s time to get my medicines.
Bring on board the human thing,
What it knows about itself.
“What are you doing?”
Standing here interviewed,
Saved with imagination.
He not gonna tell you
How big over your head this is.
When he returned to one-vision-at-a-time-mind,
Having sat seconds in the sun,
There was nothing to describe it with.
You see all at the same time.
Reaches down into soul ground
You’re going under
To rise up and go over,
With me it was how many days.
This is the secret all
The earth reveals.
Speaking high and divine
The roses call.
A lot more
Shape than substance
In our little ears.
The high voices call
The roads to divinity.
Ever we languish for support,
Ever we stand and deny.
The flesh calls our name,
And we soon tire.
This is the rose at dawn,
This is the fire at night.
A long yearning brings them close.
The soul in its high laugh
Tunes itself to their voice,
Its note on individuality,
Its eternity rushing through Time.
We know this sweetness.
This whole country
Purged with fire from the Gods.
Thus the soul is absolute.
It stands above us in Time
Arranged behind the heart,
A fiery station
The Lord and the householder meet –
That is the edge of our pain here,
The Absolute of which we speak.
Bathe and become one
Is the anthem of the stars.
Beyond those halls of heaven
Is the splendor no tongue can reveal,
The journey towards our spirit’s absolute.
Exquisite is the fault in our stars,
A grand mystery’s sway,
Tendering our head home,
CBS morning news,
And you came to believe it.
This is not a castle of dread.
Everything reminds you of God.
It’s not a habit anymore.
Can we show you reality’s face?
The strings of the night are broken.
The day brings you its golden rope.
That Something has occupied the hours.
The world you occupy is God alone,
Events ride the figures of his touch.
Memory’s longings are his hue recorded.
Even thought’s speech bears some resemblance to him,
And the heart is occupied.
The body’s wings
Vibrate their temple.
A glow along the body is found.
This is memory’s music;
You’ve been here before.
What hast thou of Time and all the rest?
The greatest has yet to come.
What hast thou of sin?
Leave it alone.
I’ve walked this one home.
Now I’m in ego
A splendor I’m feelin’.
What was I gonna do?
I’m sellin’ off
Shouldering ego off the map.
“No one’s gonna know what you look like.”
I’ll speak a way.
“I just can’t take what you said about my first love.”
It’s the soul that recognizes children,
Why we have a house,
The artist in our room,
A handy lover of anybody,
Greater than the hours.
“What was that all about?”
Delivering God’s chance
Your time the soul.
“How do you bend all this back together?”
Study the inner side of relations
That take home plate?
Now, almost rung the doorbell.
To get a hold of someone
To say I’m sorry
For the pain I caused.
I feel it.
That’s the bottom line.
· (This verse came sitting at the Samadhi of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, during a rain storm)