“Please come … for my sake,” my wife said, and I went.
She had told in advance the lady who runs the yoga-meditation-reiki classes that I’ve been down — down a long time because I want to shift to a writing life, but I can't find a way to break clean from business and get into full-time writing. The lady had assured Sujaya she had the solution. She’d find which of my chakras had turned weak, and she’d stoke them, contactless, just as in surgery these days. With that my depression would go, and I’d move on to doing just my stuff with cheer and confidence.
“I’ll scan you first, sir,” the lady said, rocking on her haunches on a low, wide cane chair and settling into a perfect vertical — on a cane throne, actually, by the size of it. All around us were terra cotta heads of Buddhas of various visages: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian. There was also a poster of Kali with the out-and-fiery tongue. “Breathe deeply now, sir, or otherwise imagine you’re sitting under a waterfall.” She spoke in Kannada in a sing-song, every syllable dripping deference. Her neck followed her every inflection with a dancer’s dexterity.
She meant the dry, serene, sheltered back of the fall, but you’ve guessed that. I chose to watch my breath. In that otherwise pleasant room which had the car and tuk-tuk and truck and bus invading it all the time with their sound, the multitude of Buddhas, and a Durga, and the glowing face of my instructress, none of them were helping me to turn inward. An excess of Buddhas don’t aid concentration, I realized, they subtract in proportion to their number.
As regards her, her energetic face had liquefied and re-formed itself to an enviable calm. It pushed me to close my eyes and try every little trick I’ve picked up over the years to check thought and watch breathing. Chiefly, I chanted my mantra, as best I could, slipping often and wondering if entering the waterfall wasn't a better idea.
She took a very long time. I came to several stops in my effort and waited for her to call the end, but she kept going, scanning me.
“I see a lot of creativity, sir.”
She'd come out of whatever she'd been doing. Her already bright white eyes were shining now, and darting at my wife and me and back at my wife. “You want to write, no? If you start now something big will happen in just a few years.”
A silence broke out and held.
“You must be feeling a little bit better now, no?”
“With just a scan?” I didn’t speak that out, of course.
She wasn’t very young, but she had the teen’s fresh face with its excess of energy. Her thick hair sprang stiff from her head, in a nice way, like it had been treated to a mild shock. I pondered her assessment. She’d snapped me out of whatever she’d gotten me into, pushed me back into doubt and the dark. She searched my face, revealing on her own a frank hunger for results. But there soon overflowed on it the same disappointment that she read on mine. I felt guilty a little, for having infected her with my condition.
“We’ll do the chakras, madam,” she said, looking at my wife for permission to start the procedure on me. She took me into another room in the apartment.
A male assistant waited for me there. My shirt had to go, and I had to lie supine. The man put cold stones on my bare torso, sort of like the wet probes you wear for ECG. I had to chant om out loud now, on and on. The man joined me as well, with an om that had no oomph in it. After a while, I heard the lady join also, and she was very good at it, of course. We went on with the om, and finally, we stopped, and the lady asked me to stay supine and not open my eyes; she switched on some music; everybody left, abandoning me to the melody of a shrill flute. Scenes of glades and nubile women and Krishna came to mind — composed as in the ISKON posters — and, I was soon asleep, as you've guessed.
When it was all over, and we'd gathered where we’d first sat, she didn’t ask me questions anymore. “You’re 60% better already, sir,” she told me. "Please come back in two weeks, and we’ll finish the rest." Her eyes and voice failed to give strength to her otherwise firm words.
She came out to the elevator to send us off.
“You can’t call her a fraud,” my wife said, miffed with my judgment of someone who’d been doing such a good job with her chakras. (Though, I must tell you, her chakras are of the robust Gowda variety.) Even as I searched for words of reparation, she bounced back. “There’s more to her, Shashi. She can do regression!”
“What’s that?” I said.
“Regression. That’s what she calls it. She can take you to your past lives. She can stop here and there so you may look around.”
“Oh,” I said.
“You should go through it. At least as a writer!”
My wife is always right. No, really.