OM

“The highest calling is service,” said Ozwald Malchizedek, also known as OM. “Whether it’s at the grocery store or gas station, by your mailman or cleaner, the guy who comes to check your meters, or the cable girl. They all provide you with service. Even the guy in Bangalore selling you top value telephone packages.” His disciples giggled at his silly accent saying these last few words. Seven of them were crowded around him, at a table meant for six, at Chutney restaurant. It was Saturday night and every table was filled, but theirs was the only one with a bona fide holy man. People glanced over continually at the clean-shaven, bald-headed, dark-skinned man in pale blue robes.

“Are we not all servants, Master?” said a blonde female disciple, wearing a blue-glitter tikka, and matching sparkling sari.

“That’s a very good question, Shanti.” He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “You could have also said, “Are we not all Masters, servant?” Shanti looked uncomfortable with this inversion, and looked away. “No, no. It is just the same. I am your Master but also your servant. Go ahead, say it.”

Shanti looked at him and said, “Are we not all Masters, servant?” She looked away again and said, “I don’t like saying that. It feels uncomfortable.” People laughed loudly at another table. A hunting story was in progress. Somewhat incongruous in a vegetarian restaurant.

“Well you must keep saying it till… Aah! Dinner has arrived.”

“Seven Regular Chutney Thalis,” said the waiter cheerfully, “And one Speical Chutney Thali with Fishy Goa?” OM nodded. “Who is the Special Thali for?” OM indicated himself. “Of course, I should have known. A Special Thali for a Special Guest.” OM nodded again. “I hope you enjoy your meal. Please call me if I can be of further service.”

OM raised his eyebrows and said, “See, this man knows about service.” The disciples looked at the waiter lovingly. He became self-conscious as he poured their water. A drop splashed up onto OM’s cheek, and rolled right down, leaving a white streak. He said, “Do not rely on anything in this material world. Not even spray tan.”

OM’s charm lay in his mysterious mix of great wisdom and utter foolishness. This has been the way of all Masters. The disciple’s task was to resonate with the truth apparent, whatever its form.

OM pointed to Shanti’s thali – a rectangular steel plate divided into sections – and said, “Each of us is like one food in this thali. Look, Shanti is the dal, Kim is the mixed vegetables, Simone is the rice, Tom is the roti, Christy is the salad, Gemma is the raita – I mean raita, not writer, though she is that too.” People laughed. “And Mata is the pickle. We are all in this life together, connected by a network of delicious relationships.” Another table laughed loudly. A drinking story.

“Shanti said, “What about you Master?”

OM looked confused, then closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “I am the thali,” he said.

Shanti said, “So you are the servant, carrying us all?” This didn’t come out like she’d expected. OM’s faced flickered. “Oh, sorry, that’s not what I meant really. I meant that you are supporting us all.” She was struggling, thinking of something more to say, and was visibly nervous. “Without the thali, we’d all fall down. Only the thali can…”

“Shanti, Shanti…” he said. “I know what you mean.” She relaxed and closed her eyes. OM took her hands in his and said, “Now let’s eat.” Nobody moved. OM said, “What’s wrong?”

Shanti said, “Aren’t you going to bless the food, Master? You usually do.”

“We are in an Indian restaurant.” OM beamed at them each in turn. “The food has been blessed already. But there’s no harm in blessing it again. Please all close your eyes. A –U – M – …”

Ozwalk Malchizedek was the first to finish. He ordered an extra portion of Fishy Goa. “Oh, so good,” he said. “Just like the dhabas in India.”

“Do they serve Goan food in Punjab?” said Shanti.

“What do you mean by that?” OM snapped.

“I just mean that Fishy Goa is a South Indian dish, and dhabas are popular in North India.”

“Punjabis eat anything,” OM said. “They have all kind of restaurants.” The table became quiet.

“Master,” said a disciple. “I’ve noticed that when you chant OM, it sounds like three syllables rather than one. Is my observation correct?”

It is incorrect! It is actually four syllables. First you open your mouth wide and say A to signify creation. Then purse your lips and say U for sustenance. Then close your mouth and say M for destruction. Then remain in Silence that is the ultimate servant, underlying them all. Let us all chant these holy syllables together.” The table reverberated to several long “A –U – M – …’s” Other tables stopped laughing and stared.

The waiter felt that it was time for their bill. The disciples fussed over it, but OM insisted on paying with his credit card. He said that they should all give him cash. The waiter gave Ozwald Malchizedek the card machine. He entered his 4-digit PIN: 2-8-6-0, equating to A – U – M – …. on the alpha-numeric keypad. The PIN was incorrect. He tried again with 2-8-6-1, then 2-8-6-*. Then again with 2-8-6-#. Each code didn’t work. He turned towards the waiter and said, “Thank you for reminding us of this most important truth. The fourth syllable – the space between all things – is a great mystery; the ground of all being and truly unknown. You have provided a valuable service to us tonight. Shanti, please use your card instead, and give him a good tip.”

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3 Responses to “OM”

  1. What if the world ends as predicted, on December 21st!

  2. True, but that reminds me – reverting to the criteria of the 2012 project, if you write your story on the morning of the 366th day (2012 being a Leap Year), won’t we have to wait until the 367th to see whether the Mayans were on the cosmic ball?

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