IMPORTANT NOTICE: Scroll down to see footnotes for ACRONYMS used, like TA, $ etc lest you are in familiar territory and those do not prevent you from following the following!
TA (we will continue to call him that, although he hardly fits the description, at least at the SHELL level (if he were a crab, that is!), was excited! The notice on the pillar near the bus stand where he often meditated while waiting for the bus (at times a looong wait!) read, “Famed dark sorceress JOY-la-TAR-anga from deep voodoo land shall perform her famous FIREWALK at midnight at Pleasantville beach! Come one come all. Please bring your own nourishment. Photography and videotaping strictly prohibited! Equipment shall be confiscated and offered as sacrifice to Elephants-in-attending for the DIVINE STOMPING RITUAL!”
“This has got to be a bloody SCAM!”, TA mused, “HERE and NOW? North of 40th parallel?”
“NO WAY JOSE!”
Suddenly he noticed his bus and the BIG SPLASHY advertisement painted on it caught his eye, “Visit DOLLAR SHOP! New MERCHANDISE JUST CAME IN!!”
Something stirred in TA’s heart as he was suddenly reminded of $. Where is he now? Is he still WHOLY or did he finally manage to drop the W?
For some strange reason, TA suddenly had such a soul-wrenching yearning for swiss cheese. Little wonder for he hadn’t eaten in a while.
“Hunger is a strange thing, beta”, $ used to say, “It can connect many realities, many realms, many levels!”
“Why do you think it is so transcultural, running across all religions?”
“FAST … FASTER…”, young TA was thinking as $ droned on and on, “I can’t take it anymore $ji! I am a growing boy and need my grub!”, TA pondered silently…
“WHAT IS IT WITH YOU CHILD, and the INSECTS?”, $ was all knowing and very sensitive? “REMEMBER! Insects are the products [AN: 5th from…] of the Randhra house [AN: 8th house] and live in and cause Vyaya [AN: 12th house; loss; expenditure! Check what exterminators charge in your neighbourhood!]”
The flashback was so powerful that TA almost missed his bus! But he was trained well by $! He was trained to multitask and tread two realities simultaneously.
The only seat available was near a child who seemed very curious and kind of impolite. The little girl kept staring at TA as if he was an oddity. TA was getting a bit uncomfortable with the constantly STARING child. He kept looking away but something felt so familiar. “How could this be?”, he thought, “This is like a 10 year old child! But why does she remind me of that night 30 years ago when the Fireshow got cancelled so brutally?”
“Will you come to my show tonight, TA? If you are ready!”
TA had goosebumps all over his body! It couldn’t be the child who was saying that, but for sure it was the voice of $! With great trepidation in his heart, he forced himself to turn towards his bus companion. The toothless face of Bhikaran was unmistakable!
“Thank God SHE never left me!”, there were tears in TA’s eyes.
“Or perhaps YOU did not!”, JwALATARANGA was still as beautiful and young as that night when TA had first seen her but really noticed HER tonight, for the first time, perhaps … ”
“Penance has its virtues”, as Swami Murabbanand ji used to say generally after rounding out a sumptuous meal with his favourite dessert which was delicious but he kept calling it a ‘Trifle’ … Strange are the ways of the wise!
* Abbreviations used
TA = Teenager. Let us assume that his name is Hari Puttar (son of God)! (not to be confused with the popular magician with a similar sounding name!!)
AN = Author’s Notes. I get sick each time I use sic!
$ = Swamiji
* The additional A in Shaastra used to separate it from Shastra, the former means a procedural scientific applied discipline, the latter a weapon!