"Please come. For my sake," my wife said. So 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 plunge into writing full-time. The lady had assured Sujaya she had the solution. She'd determine which of my chakras had turned weak, and she'd stoke it, contactless, as in modern surgery. With that, my depression would go, and I'd move on to doing the stuff I want in good cheer.
"I'll scan you first, sir," the lady said, rocking on her haunches on a low, wide cane-chair and settling into a perfect padmasana. All around us were terra cotta heads of Buddhas of various ethnic visages: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian. And there was a poster of black Kali with blood-red tongue. "Breathe deeply now, sir. 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 inflexion with a dancer's finesse.
She meant the dry, serene, sheltered back of the fall, but you've guessed that. I chose to watch my breath In that quite pleasant room. From the street, the car and the tuk-tuk and the truck and the bus poured in their sounds. The myriad Buddhas, the Durga, and the glowing face of my instructress couldn't counter the incessant rumble of the motor vehicles. An excess of Buddhas don't aid concentration, I figured. If anything, 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 the breath. Chiefly, I chanted my mantra, as best I could, slipping often and wondering if the waterfall wasn't a better idea.
She took a long time scanning me. I was seriously slipping in my concentration, and wondered what result my wayward mind would bring.
"I see a lot of creativity, sir."
Her already bright white eyes were glowing, darting at my wife and me, back and forth. "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?"
"With only a scan?" I didn't say that out loud, of course.
She wasn't very young, but she had the teen's fresh face and excess energy. Her thick hair sprang stiffly from her head like it had been treated to a mild shock, but it looked good on her. 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 for an answer, and in a moment, her face mirrored the disappointment on mine.
"Let's do the chakras, madam," she said, looking at my wife for permission. She took me into another room in her apartment.
A male assistant awaited us there. My shirt had to go, I had to lie supine. The man put cold stones along my bare spine, which felt like the wet probes you wear for ECG. He asked me to chant the Om, and he started chanting too, saying Om without oomph in it. After a while, the lady joined also and she was very good at it. At long last, we were done, and the lady asked me to stay supine with closed eyes and switched on some music. I sensed her leaving, and the assistant too, abandoning me to a shrill flute. Scenes of glades and nubile women and Lord Krishna came to mind, sort of like in the ISKON posters, and soon I was asleep.
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."
She came out to the elevator to send us off.
"She's not a fraud," my wife said, miffed with my doubting someone who's been doing such an excellent job on 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 in the spirit of the true Gowda. "There's more to her, Shashi. She can do regression!"
"What's that?" I said.
"Regression. That's what she calls it. Taking you to your past lives. She can stop at different points so you can look around."
"Oh," I said.
"You should go through it," she said. "At least as a writer!"