My Unnamed Friend

 

Today was another usual day at our shala. Yuki, a friend of mine, who lives in Japan, usually stops by for a few days days before she heads to her yearly pilgrimage to Udupi, was here. We usually get to the shala around 3:30 or 4 am to practice and today was the same yet I felt a bit different. By the time I finished my practice, a new practitioner had come to practice along with a few others and I started working with them. I had to close all the blinds due to the chill in the shala. The sunrise, probably the most beautiful thing I see every day from our shala, happened a few minutes before 6. As the sun started to come up and the temperature started to rise, I opened the blinds one by one. Across from one of the windows is a gray coloured, modern looking, symmetrical 3-storey house. Each floor facing our window has just one door, dead in the centre of the floor, and is brown in colour. Each door opens into a small balcony. A barrier of about 2 to 3 feet high, made of granite or some exotic Italian marble acts as a fence on each floor. The walls are probably made up of the same material. The unique thing about this building is that the texture of each floor is also same – you can’t distinguish one floor from the other.

Occasionally, on the days I teach in the evenings, on the second floor of the building, which is same floor as our shala, the brown door would open and a man probably 5 foot 6 or 7, in his 70’s or 80’s, wearing a white kurta and dhoti would slowly come out, holding the door. He had no hair on his head and had a little belly. There would no expression on his face but I couldn’t be sure as it would be a little dark by then. Magically, the three ceiling lights would get switched on, that would create three triangles on the balcony with small patches of dark. He would slowly walk over to the fence, resting both his hands on it, and his elbows straight. His gaze would go all across, from left to right and then up and down. Towards, the end he would settle by looking towards the sky, as if searching for something. Then he would start his slow walk on the balcony. He would go to the one end – wait for a few seconds before slowly turning back. One could notice that he had a hard time turning but he was probably used to a fast paced life but life had it’s way and he was forced to slow-down. This would continue for for about 15-30 minutes each time we met.

By the time the sun would set, the other two floors would be completely dark and I could see the silhouette of my unnamed friend move between light to dark and dark to light. When he was done, he would walk back to the door, open it and walk in. The door would close behind and lights would get switched off and that would be the end of our interaction.

As I opened the blinds this morning – there was commotion at this unusually exquisite yet quiet house, where the only acquaintance I had was my unnamed friend. There were many people running inside and outside the gate on ground floor. The windows were closed so I couldn’t hear anything. Then I saw more people come, and then more and more. Within, 45 minutes the entire ground floor was filled up with people. I had a hunch but I was unwilling to look further. I thought of my unnamed friend and our interactions, prayed and kept teaching, occasionally looking outside the window at the growing crowd and then on the second floor, hoping for something.

By the time I was done teaching at the shala, there was no place left on the road outside the house. The window was open by now and the crying and howling that I heard in the background had grown louder.

As I go back to the shala this evening, I am not sure if I will see my unnamed friend, but I would think of him. He was my partner in my teachings in the evenings. I am thankful he gave me company, when I needed it.

I don’t know who you are and who you were, I don’t know anything about your life, but I wish you well as you probably move into the next phase of your life. Thank You for being there. May God be with you.

So long my friend! Until next time.

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