Black Spot

Gemma said, “Mr Amin, have you seen what’s happened in the Temple?” Being the manager of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre had its challenges and Gemma was one of them. She always complained about something – the food, the staff, the decor, and now the Temple. What a shame really. The Temple was a place where people came together regardless of differences, yet even that was a target.

“What has happened, Gemma?”

“A black spot,” she said emphatically. “A black spot has appeared. I don’t know what else to call it. A nobby. A circle filled with black paint. That’s what.”

A range of black spots dotted Mr Amin’s mind. A piece of paper given to pirates as a verdict of guilt. A fungus causing rose diseases. An accident-prone section of motorway. Parasitic cysts on fish. Night attack aircraft used in Vietnam. During his time as Northern India’s Minister of Culture, he recalled discussions about buying some from the US government; their low light level radar was revolutionary. “And what is your issue with this black spot?” he said. “There are many signs in the Temple. It is a place of free worship.”

“The other signs are holy symbols,” she said. “That sign is creepy.”

“But didn’t you knit that sign for Guru Baba?” he said. A week before, Gemma had made hats for Guru Baba’s disciples, each with a different symbol. One had featured a black spot.

“Yes but that was a pattern on clothing,” she said. “Not something to worship. Are you going to remove it?”

“The Temple is for everyone,” he said. “If someone has installed a meaningful sign, we should keep it there. It’s not offensive.”

Gemma looked annoyed and returned to her knitting. Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK. Mr Amin thought that he’d better take a look. James was in the Temple sitting quietly. Mr Amin nodded a greeting despite knowing that he would not react. This second – or was it his third – stroke had made him unresponsive. He now just sat wherever he was, looking straight ahead. Mr Amin however always greeted people. It was simply good manners.

The Black Spot was a perfect dark dot, nestled between glowing holy symbols. These included a silver Cross, a shiny blue Star of David, sparkly green Crescent Moon, glittery OM in saffron, dark blue Khanda, red Dharmic Wheel, pale blue Cofucian Water sign, purple Torii Gate, white Pentagram, seven pointed Bahai Star, and Taijitu. The black spot seemed to be pulsating. Mr. Amin rubbed his eyes. It was appearing and disappearing. It was just an optical illusion though. When you stare at anything for too long it fills your vision and continues to exist even when you look away. Mr Amin nodded to James again as he left.

Gemma didn’t mention the Black Spot again, and Mr Amin thought that the matter was settled. She must have accepted it.

Mr Amin visited the Temple weekly to meditate upon the holy signs. He was most drawn to the OM sign – feeling its potent vibrations first fill his eyes, then his head, his mind, and the world. But he was also moved by other signs. The Cross centred him, the Star of David pointed up and down, to heaven and earth, the Crescent Moon ruled nature’s cycles, the Khanda’s swords inspired bravery, the Dharmic Wheel spoke of non-attachment, the Confucian water sign symbolized duty, the Torii gate allowed rebirth, the Pentagram bore magic, the Bahai Star held unity, and the Taijitu symbol revealed the essential complementarity of  the “ten thousand things”. And what about the Black Dot – what did that mean?

Mr Amin saw that it wasn’t there. Had Gemma removed it? Maybe somebody else had. He would find out who did it. What a shame, he had been looking forward to including it in his meditation.

Later that day James shuffled into the Temple. He settled into his usual comfortable brown chair. His motions were limited and it was hard to adjust his body. The plastic one was too hard on his back and he sometimes slipped while visualizing. The comfy chair kept him stable. He stared daily into the constellation of symbols before him, and manifested his own one. His favourite. The Midnight Sun, or Black Light, known to mystics worldwide. The union of opposites. The synthesis of impossibilities. The light of the underworld. The womb and tomb. The power of belief. The light born of darkness, known as Hope. James made the Black Spot real.

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