Beheadhead (Seven)

Intro1

Beheadhead (Seven)

Miss Peters, Sebastian, Sebastian’s mother and I were all sitting in Miss Sunderland’s office during a recess break.

The last time I was in Miss Sunderland’s office was when I had politely interrupted her elevensies to teach her about stealing words from Sanskrit, respectfully addressing her as ‘twit.’

“We can all learn from our mistakes,” Sebastian’s mother offered.

“My dear Mrs. Craig,” Miss Sunderland replied, “I really wouldn’t characterize this as a mistake, I think that trivializes the situation. It is quite clear to me that Sebastian deliberately tried to be misleading, knowing the full likelihood of the consequences. As a result, I was told to my face several times that I was a twit, when the boy innocently thought it was a term of endearment.”

I tell you these Britishers! I did not think that Miss Sunderland looked like a deer! Always these problems with deers, isn’t it.

“Miss Sunderland,” Sebastian’s mother retorted, “with all due respect, this was a harmless prank by my son on a boy who really should be able to… well, you know?

“No, I don’t know. Why don’t you explain it to me Mrs. Craig?”

“Well, I mean, he should be able to understand our language well enough not to get himself into a situation like that. Surely he should have learned our language better before coming over to our country. It really isn’t too much to ask for a person to learn to speak properly before he visits our country. And you know what little boys are like? Pranksters all of them. Sebastian was being harmless, weren’t you dear?”

Now with that I definitely agree. I mean Sebastian’s ears are big-big ears also. His mother is correct.

“Mrs. Craig, when you say ‘our’ language, I assume you mean the ‘English’ language?” Headmistress Sunderland clarified.

“Yes, of course I do. Any child attending our school should be able to have a decent comprehension of the language, so that he does not, well… entangle himself in such… well… predicaments. English is the finest language in the world, the language of Shakespeare, Miss Sunderland. Surely, one ought to be honoured – indeed, privileged – to learn the language properly before entering a school of this calibre. My dear Miss Sunderland, I daresay this has rather more to do with an oversight on your part for admitting children who…”

“‘Who’?.. Who what, precisely Mrs. Craig..?”

“Well, who… who are not, shall we say – able to keep up with the social and academic excellence that our school strives to maintain – my son’s harmless prank is merely…”

“‘Social’… in what way ‘social’…”

Now Mrs Craig was trying to whisper as if I was not there, isn’t it? But of course also I was there.

“Are you aware Miss Sunderland, that the boy’s father works as a sales clerk over at Rowse’s on Ealing Broadway? Now that’s hardly -”

” – My dear Mrs Craig, while we are all fully aware of your husband’s remarkable success as an executive with De Beers, and his service on our school board, I cannot possibly restrict my admissions policy exclusively to those students whose fathers have successful executive careers. You do understand -”

“- No, frankly I do not. Perhaps we should just agree to disagree. And leave it at that. But let me just say before I leave, Miss Sunderland, that Great Britain is ‘great’ because we as a nation adhere to certain standards – and when those standards are… eh, relaxed and eh.. compromised, as you seem to now be open to doing in your capacity as headmistress… well, it’s the thin end of the wedge, I can tell you. Good day!”

“- Ahem! I think Mrs. Craig, that at the very least your son owes this young man an apology, as well as a promise that he will not be misleading to him in the future.”

Sebastian’s mother was silent. She looked very angry. She wanted to leave and she was already halfway to standing up.

“Sebastian?” Miss Sunderland.

“Sorry, Badgers. ‘Won’t do it again, I promise.”

“That is no problem,” I replied. “You are most kind. You are a twit.”

“Sebastian?” Miss Sunderland raised her eyebrows menacingly.

“No… actually you see, Badgers, I am not a twit.”

“Oh yes, you are!” I insisted.

“No,” Sebastian explained. “You see ‘twit’ means someone who is silly or stupid. It does not mean kind.”

“Then why you said?..” I began.

“Well, I was wrong. I am sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“Fine, no problem,” I told him. “Next time, you need to understand a word before you explain, isn’t it? My Bapuji he said once, when we don’t understand each other’s language, that is how wars start. I mean, like the word moja for example…”

“Um.. Yes, eh… thank you,” Miss Sunderland interrupted. “That will be all. Good day!”

Sebastian’s mother looked angry, and Sebastian looked afraid, like my friend Altaf. So I put my arm around Sebastian’s shoulder,

“Don’t worry Sebastian, don’t be afraid,” I said to him.

Sebastian smiled. But his mother still looked very upset. And Headmistress Sunderland was smiling and covering her mouth and trying not to laugh.

Later that day I learned a new word in Miss Miller’s history class. ‘Beheadhead.’

What is this word, you wonder? Well, allow me to teach you.

You actually need to learn a bit of English history to really understand, isn’t it? Now it was during the time of the Two Doors. Now the first Two Door king was the seventh Henry, 1485 to 1509. Then there was eighth Henry, 1509 to 1547 and he was the one that started the beheadhead. He put his wife Anne Boleyn in the beheadhead machine and made her a beheadhead. So now she had only a head and no body, isn’t it?

Miss Miller was explaining the reason for the beheadhead and I raised my hand. She ignored me but I kept my hand up.

“Yes…?” she finally looked at me and sighed.

“Miss, Miss!” I cried excitedly. “I have seen a beheadhead. We have one at our home Miss.”

Everyone went quiet. Deathly quiet.

“Really, that is not funny,” Miss Miller said angrily. “You really should not make up lies like that. It’s scaring some of the children.”

“But it is true!” I told her. “We keep a beheadhead in our home. I have seen it! You want me to bring it to school and show you?”

Miss Miller was right, some of the children in the class looked very scared. Miss Miller asked the class to continue reading. “You, young man,” she addressed me, “you’re coming with me,” she marched me straight to Headmistress Sunderland’s office.

“Honestly, Miss Sunderland,” I heard Miss Miller say almost out of breath, “You know the attitude of some of parents and their children; the moment they heard we were having a new student from Africa some of them already had images in their mind of headhunters and headshrinkers. And now we have the boy actually scaring the children with the absurd notion that he is in possession of a shrunken head in his home. Really, it’s all too much!”

“Leave him with me, Miss Miller, I will see if I can sort it out for you,” Miss Sunderland said reassuringly.

“And when Sebastian’s mother hears about this she is going to be absolutely beside herself, Miss Sunderland – I needn’t tell you that her husband’s on the school board and he already feels that you have… well, shall we say ‘compromised’ the standards of admission by admitting a… a -”

“- Enough, Miss Miller. Enough. I said you can leave this me. Thank you!”

After Miss Miller walked out, “in you go, boy,” Miss Smithers indicated the headmistress’s door.

Bapuji would be proud of me because I was spending more and more time now with my new student, Headmistress Sunderland! Even her office I was now feeling very comfortable in.

“Is it true then,” Miss Sunderland started, “that you apparently have a shrunken head in your home?”

“That is not true. It is not shrunken, it is a full-sized beheadhead.”

“Where is this, eh…  head kept?”

“My parents have it in their bedroom. I think they cleaned away all the blood, so just it is very clean. In fact, this morning I said good morning to it, but it is not speaking back to me.”

“Are you sure that it exists in your home? ”

“The beheadhead? Oh yes, Miss,” I replied confidently.

“Alright, well try not to tell anyone about it, let it just be our secret, alright then?”

“Secret. Yes, alright, I will keep it secret,” I agreed.

That evening I was having dinner with my parents. My father had just gotten back from my grandfather’s funeral.

“Your grandfather left you this book,” my father told me, “it is the Upanishads,” he added handing it to me. It was the same book Altaf and I found under his bed.

“But I can’t read it,” I said sadly. “It’s in Gujarati.”

“Just keep it,” my father told me, “it is part of his spirit. Just like when I gave the bus driver the silver watch, isn’t it. It is Bapuji’s spirit.”

So I kept the book.

It was Saturday and my dad had to go to work at the department store. My mother too had started working. She was training to be a hajam, a hairdresser. My mother was always cutting my hair, and now she had decided to learn to cut hair in a London salon.

So because my mother couldn’t leave me alone at home, she took me to the training school, the VST school where I would sit and look at magazines and watch people cut hair.

The people at VST were all very kind, and sometimes they would call me and ask me to help with little-little things.

“Badgers, could you please come and hold these scissors for me while I shampoo this gentleman’s hair?” one lady asked me.

Many times they asked me to hold their scissors because they were very expensive and they were afraid of losing them. My mother’s scissors also cost a lot of money. My dad said you could buy a whole year’s worth of bhajias and chai for the same price.

Now, first thing in the morning, there were no customers, only classes. All the people in the class were women, and the teacher was a man, a ‘Miss Your’ Gallete. I don’t know why they called him ‘Miss’ since he was a man. Anyhow, ‘Miss Your’ also sounded like he is learning English. He didn’t sound like a Britisher.

“Miss, Miss,” I raised my hand. “What means VST?”

“It is ‘Monsieur’ to you, young man, not Miss,” he replied. “My name is Monsieur Gallete. Veesay VST school, because zat means Vidal Sassoon Train-neeng school.”

You see what I said before? This teacher has a lot to learn in English. Miss Your is telling my mother and the other ladies how to cut and style the hair of their beheadheads. You see, each lady has a beheadhead.

Julie makes different-different shapes with the hair of the beheadheads and then she calls them different-different names. Sometimes she calls it ‘frizz head’ or ‘puff head’ or ‘poodle top’ or ‘fry baby.’ She is always talking to her beheadhead. All the women talk to their beheadheads, even my mother …sometimes in Gujarati and sometimes in Hindi.

“Which one is Anne Boleyn’s beheadhead?” I asked Julie, one of the women at the school.

“I don’t know, luv,” she smiled. “Is there an Anne Boleyn here?” she asked around loudly.

But nobody raised their hand. Anne Boleyn’s beheadhead must be in another VST school isn’t it?

Julie was always nice to me. In the afternoon, she asked me for help. She was shampooing a lady’s hair and she asked me if I could hold the shampoo hose while she went to get some more shampoo from the supply cupboard.

Now, the shampoo hose looks like a Indian cobra snake and it moves and sometimes you can’t control it. The nose of the cobra is called a nozzle, and warm water is coming from the cobra’s nozzle and I tell you this cobra was hard to control, so what I did? I decided that I will turn the tap off so that the water is not making the cobra move everywhere, but problem was that I turned the tap wrong way and the water came gushing out and the cobra shampoo hose went out of control and the nozzle went mad. First nozzle sprays me in the face, then the lady in the chair, then it sprays the roof and the other ladies. The ladies began to scream, and I saw Miss Your Gallete running to me.

Oeuf! Turn eet oeuf! Oeuf!!”

But I could not turn the tap off and before I knew it, the nozzle sprayed Miss Your Gallete.

“Mon dieu! Mon dieu!” he shouted.

He took the cobra from my hand, and switched off the tap.

“Dees boy… mondieu! Sacrebleu. Look at dis place – it has bin heet by a monsoon!! Go and sit down!”

So I went and sat down. You know what? I miss Hajambhai. Back home in Nairobi, when the hajam cut my hair, he used big metal clippers and fatafut (means very fast in Gujarati), it was finished. Two minutes, and my hair was cut. Bhus (means, that’s it)! And here there was all this shampoo and cobras with big noses and frizz and poodle and whatnots… I mean, too many whatnots, isn’t it? You think Hajambhai went to Vidal Sassoon Training school? No. Nor did he have money to pay for Japanese scissors and practice on a beheadhead isn’t it?

Now what to do?

I sat around, bored. I suppose I will just sit here and wait for my mother till she finishes. We always take the tube home. The tube is a train, but not like chaiwalla’s train. There is no chaiwalla on these English trains and these trains go under the ground. You know what I think? I think that when Bapuji was buried underground, he took the tube. Then, from there he took chaiwalla’s train and from there the upcountry bus to Himalaya. Makes sense, no? Anyway, when my mother and I were in the tube, she had to hold her beheadhead in her lap. Often, people would look at it and laugh. One time this man even come to say hello to the beheadhead. But she has to bring it home, because that is how she practices at home…frizz head, poodle head, and whatnot.

So what to do now? Boring, isn’t it? Just sitting.

You know what? Mirrors are very interesting over here.

At this VST salon, all the people are two. They have their real side and then their mirror side. Sometimes mirror side looks real, but it is just a mirror.

Even my mother. Wait! Where is she? I don’t see her. I am going to see if I can find her. I know I am not supposed to go near the supply cupboard so I will not go there. Last time, I opened the cupboard and all these brooms and shampoos and things fell on the ground and Miss Your was upset and told me not to go near the cupboard. But maybe just a little peek…? The door is slightly open, but it is stuck. Or maybe somebody is blocking it or holding it? It sounds like somebody is inside. I can hear them, but who? Wait! I know! I can try to look in one of the mirrors. This mirror here, if I stand here… then I can see in the storage room… no… maybe if I stand here? No. How about here? Yes!!

I am not telling.

No, I am sorry, I am not telling.

I am not telling.

Stop reading now. Just leave. I don’t want to tell you anymore. Just go now, please. Please, look I need you to just forget this story now. Goodnight, story is over.

THE END.

I was very quiet. On the way home, the tube was bright but it felt very dark in my heart. Very, very dark.

Over dinner, my dad said, “tomorrow, we will go to Southall and see Salim uncle.”

I didn’t reply.

“What is it? You don’t want to go to Southall?”

“I am tired. Can I go to sleep?”

My father nodded.

I went to my room and I picked up The Upanishads from my grandfather, and I opened it even though I couldn’t read Gujarati, but I knew the first line because my grandfather had taught it to me and so I said it to myself:

Behold the universe in the glory and all that lives and moves on earth. Leaving the transient find joy in the eternal. Set not your heart upon another’s possessions.

Why did the yogis write that?

I don’t want to behold the universe. The universe is dark. There is no light, isn’t it? What nonsense are these yogis writing… sitting there in Himalayas, I mean what do they know? Have they been to Vidal Sassoon Training School? No. They know nothing. Just mountainsides. All they know are mountainsides. They are like hajambhai. What do they know about England?

I remembered my mother’s words when we went to Abernethie’s to buy socks?

“We’re not in the jungle anymore. This is England. People are sophisticated here. They don’t give their fists out to get measured for socks. How dare you embarrass me like that?”

She was right. People are sophisticated here. They are not like those yogis and those upcountry women like Wangari with their mangos and their cassava and their whatnots! And their dirty feet. Walking barefoot in the dust and the mud. They don’t even wear sandals. And no socks.

And those yogis don’t wear socks either. They write the Upanishads with no socks.

What does it mean? And why was Wangari there with the yogis? She and those upcountry women and the bus driver with the silver watch from my grandfather with the yogis who wrote the Upanishads? I don’t understand anything… Nothing. Why I am so stupid? Why did I come to this country? Hajambhai didn’t have to go to Vidal Sassoon Training school to learn to cut hair, isn’t it? He just bought some clippers and began.

I am feeling dizzy now. I need to go to sleep.

“Too many questions, Papu, isn’t it?” My grandfather was laughing. Laughing!! And the yogis were laughing, and Wangari, she was back for another visit and the Limuru country bus was there, as was the Kikuyu bus driver and Maasai night watchman askari.

“Why are you laughing Bapuji, don’t you know what has happened?”

“I know what has happened, and still I am laughing,” he replied through his laughter.

“Why? How can you laugh at such a time? You think it is funny? It is not funny! Shame on you!”

“I am not laughing because it is funny. I am laughing because it is transient. What did these yogis write? They said: set not your heart upon another’s possessions, isn’t it? Leaving the transient, find joy in the eternal. The joy of the eternal is making me laugh. That is the only real laughter and real joy.”

“But it is not funny. I mean to say, today my life became… it became…”

Beheadhead?

“Yes.”

“You feel like you were beheadhead because your head was full of love for your father and your mother and your family and then today this head was chopped off like the eighth Henry’s wife, isn’t it? And now you are like a chicken without a head.”

“My head is lost, I am beheadhead, Bapuji, my whole world has been chopped off. I am dead.”

“Leave the transient, find joy in the eternal, this is the gift.”

“The gift!!” I shouted. “I saw my own mother in that mirror. She was in the closet with Miss Your Gallete, kissing him and holding him and my dad knows nothing and Salim uncle knows nothing, even my mother does not know that I saw her in the mirror!!”

“What do you know about a mirror?”

“That I saw my mother and Miss Your Gallete kissing in the mirror, that is all I know!”

“What did Krishna say to that great warrior, Arjuna, about the mirror… ‘all is clouded by desire Arjuna, like a mirror by dust.’ Your mother clouded that mirror with her desires. It is transient, it is the drama of this human life, it has nothing to do with the eternal. Let it go, or the wound will penetrate you. Let the transient go. Think of the eternal, the spirit, the women picking the tea and singing Malaika, the majesty and mist of the mountains in Darjeeling, the laughter of the Kikuyu vegetable ladies in Limuru, the spirit you shared with Miss Sunderland… these are the things of the eternal… find the joy in that, and we will both laugh together,” Bapuji tried to sooth me.

“Laugh!” I fired back. “How can you laugh! What shame. My head has been chopped off. My life is over. My dreams have been murdered. I dreamt one day that my dad and my mum and me would all go to Kwality Sweetmart in Southall and have tea and bhajias and laugh and talk but now I can’t even look my mother in the eye. And my dad, my poor dad, he knows nothing of the evil he has married. The shame. The shame. Don’t send me back there. Let me sleep forever. I don’t want to go back there. When my mother looks at me, I look away. The shame. The shame of it. How can you laugh?

“This is your pride, boy, set it aside. It is transient. Think of the eternal spirit and you will laugh. You must go on, you must. You can’t go on, but you must go on. Fight thou thy fight.”

One of the yogis began reading from the Gita:

“And Badgers was grieved, and spoke sorrowfully as he saw the two armies of the Sassoons and the Hajams, and the grandfathers and the father-in-laws and Salim uncles and Sebastians and Julians and cousins and he fell to the ground and he said, ‘these are my kinsmen eager to fight, and yet my mouth is parched and my bow Gandiva slips from my hand and my skin burns,’ and in the midst of the battlefield Badgers sank to the ground and cast away his bow and arrow and sobbed on his chariot.”

“I don’t want to listen to this nonsense,” I begged, “just keep me here and do not send me back to Chiswisk. I want to stay here with you now, please. Wangari, tell them, please.”

But Wangari was laughing, and I got even more angry. She did not understand that all my dreams had been beheadhead.

“You need to have new dreams. Eternal dreams. Then, you will have a new head,” Wangari said.

Then the yogi read more:

“Badgers, whence this lifeless dejection, un-Aryalike, disgraceful and contrary to the attainment of the laughter of the saints? And Badgers said, ‘O slayer of Madhu, how can I battle against Bhishma and Drona, even with Mr. Patel and Hajam and Wanjiro by my side?’ And Krishna said to Badgers from the ceiling of Mr. Patel’s shop on Nagara Road, ‘Fight thou thy fight, brave warrior, son of Kunthi, scion of Kurhi. Only cowards run from battle, that is the only shame.’”

The yogi stopped and the Kikuyu bus driver walked over. “This is not your shame, it does not own you, and you do not own it. It is a possession, like the silver watch. Let it be stolen from you, and you will be the richer for it.”

Then came the Maasai askari with his words of wisdom. “I am Moraan. I am a Maasai warrior. I slew a fierce lion in my youth. Face the battle, brace yourself with courage and resolve, and do not run. Do not run from battle.”

Wangari began singing Malaika. And she was laughing, and the yogis were laughing, and Bapa was laughing his head off. I shouted at all of them, I was so angry.

“Why are you laughing? It is not funny!!

Wangari came over and sat next to me. “We are not laughing because we find it funny. We are laughing because your waking hours are a dream. And this dream it is a thief, a robber, it robs us all of who we are, of our joy,” she said quietly. “Do not look there for happiness and laughter. In Kikuyu we have a saying, ‘angimituiranaumiritendangimionarikii’. Do not look for stolen goods in the robber’s house, do not seek the goat with the man who ate it. You see you are looking in the wrong place for happiness and laughter because it is a coin.”

“A coin?” I asked.

“A coin,” she repeated. “You will have laughter for a while, but then you will also have the other side of the coin …sorrow. If you accept the coin of life, you have to accept both sides. It is all transient, so let it go.”

She made me so sad. She made me so mad. I did not understand her.

“Do not feel sad. This is not an end it is a beginning. ‘Cia uthonicimabaganguhi.’”

“Gukirakuringatho,” Bapu said.

When did he learn Kikuyu? I asked Wangari what it meant.

“Silence is golden,” she replied. “And peaceful silence is the currency we use here in the Himalayas.”

Then everyone in the circle went quiet and stayed that way. But I have a problem with silence. It is like this…

When Altaf’s grandmother died we went to the funeral, and afterwards everybody had to be very silent because the body was being buried. Suddenly, Altaf looked at my ears and started laughing and then I started laughing because he was laughing, and the next thing we know is Altaf’s father is hauling both of us back to the car and telling us to sit quietly in the car, isn’t it?

So now, here we all are, quiet and meditating and suddenly I start giggling, and then askari starts laughing, and Wangari and the bus driver and the yogis …and Bapuji also is laughing. There is laughter everywhere and tears are streaming from my eyes.

And Wangari says, “there is the laughter of the world, but it is heavy with the fear of sorrow coming around the corner and robbing it of joy and so it will not last. But here, there is a different kind of laughter, so stay here for a while with us, and get to know this new laughter. Here joy is not a trembler and hope is not a cheat and sorrow is not a thief.”

“Is there a name for this new laughter?” I asked.

“It is the laughter that rises up above the world and is not disturbed by the world,” she said.

“How can I go back there, Wangari, to my family, and still be happy? I mean, my world is broken, my heart is broken, my life is broken. I don’t want to go back. I don’t care if I never eat Weetabix again.”

“That life, and that laughter is meant to be broken. But think of us all here. We are all your friends, and all your family, and your army, and we in turn have our own army, an Army of Angels, and we can never be broken, and our laughter cannot be broken. Your soul lives here with us.”

As she said this, I started to feel hungry and began thinking of Weetabix and warm milk and sugar, but then I remembered I would have to sit with my mother and that made me sad.

It made me want to sleep and dream and never wake up and never have breakfast and never go back to school.

“Whence this dejection, Badgers, now, in the hour of trial?” said the yogi. “A great warrior cannot be beheadhead, because he never permits the weight of shame to lower his head. Arise! The weight of your shame at your mother’s betrayal is like butter in my mouth. Do you see the butter in my mouth?”

“No, the butter has melted,” I told the yogi. “All I see are the universe and laughter in your mouth. You are a butter thief isn’t it? You stole the butter! Mr. Patel, he told me about you when I was in Nagara Road.”

“This laughter, that we laugh here,” Wangari piped in, “you can laugh it within your soul, even when your eyes flood tears. Take it, it is a gift, it is a new head and a new mouth. A Samsara – a new thought. We call it the laughter of the saints.”

“Well, you see, before I go to have my Weetabix I was just to wondering, you see? Um.. I have Just One Question..?” I ventured.

“Oh dear…” groaned my grandfather, “Not again! You and your Just One Question…Here we go… Wangari, you take this one, please… “

Wangari laughed, and she nodded in acceptance. She looked at me intently with her kind, gentle eyes.

“When I did speak with Miss Peters,” I explained to Wangari, “We talked about scrambled eggs, you see?”.

I said to Miss Peters: “You did not want to learn our Indian and African recipes and make omelette with us. Just you wanted to make boring bland scrambled eggs, isn’t it?”

And Miss Peters, she said: “Well, at least we are no longer there anymore – the Britishers she meant – at least we left. And now Kenya and India and all those countries you mentioned are free of Britain.”

And I said: “Yes, they are free, but you left us scrambled. Now we are like scrambled eggs. Not same as before. How we can unscramble miss?”

And she said: “I am afraid it is not possible to unscramble an egg once it has been scrambled.”

And I said: “There must be a way, miss. There must be a way.”

“Is there a way to unscramble, Wangari? That is my just one question…”

And Wangari said to me, “Yes. There is a way. You need to break new eggs. And make a new omelette. And include the spices and vegetables from all the people. And make it colourful and alive. Not bland and boring like the old scrambled eggs. These Britishers, they came to us because they had poverty in their soul. Why else would they treat us the way they did. Their souls are parched. Otherwise, they would have stayed home in Chiswick. It is we whose souls are rich. They came to learn from us. That is why they sailed their navy to our shores. So forget their scrambled eggs. Break new eggs and make the best omelette you can make.”

And the Kikuyu bus driver said: “Yes, that is how you unscramble. By making an omelette with fresh new eggs.”

And Bapuji chuckled and said: “And make sure you have the omelette with some toast… you must be getting hungry for breakfast now, isn’t it?”

And the Maasai askari laughed and said: “But do not use a toast rack! Especially not a British toast rack!”

And the Chaiwalla said: “And make sure you drink it down with some of my delicious chai from the tea plantations of Assam!”

Now all this talk about eggs and toast and tea was really making me very hungry for breakfast! I desired breakfast more than anything else.

And Bapuji the trickster – he knew this. He knew the distracting power of desire. He would quote the Gita about this to me all the time:

All is clouded by desire, Arjuna, like a mirror by dust…

I rubbed my eyes awake, and I saw my mother pouring warm milk on my Weetabix.

I looked her in the eyes. She smiled.

Then I sprinkled some sugar on the Weetabix and ate my breakfast. And I remembered something else Wangari told me in Kikuyu before she took the upcountry bus to Limuru:

She said that although yesterday was beheadhead, today was just born new this morning.

Today, was a new day.

 

by Karim