Guru Baby

The visitor waited in line, and when his turn came said, “Excuse me, is Guru Baba here today? We’re visiting from the East Coast and would love to see him.”

Sami said, “I’m sorry Sir, but he is busy with official business today.”

The visitor turned to look at her husband, who curled his lips. She turned back to Sami and said, “But the flag is up at the Transparent Temple.” This was the popular name for their fancy community centre. “Doesn’t that mean he is here?”

Sami hated disappointing people. They came so far to glimpse Guru Baba, one of the world’s leading holy men, who had made his home in Lucerne. He’d wanted to retire to “that nice village with the white mountain above it,” and since then there had been a procession of world leaders coming to see him, and behind them came the masses.

Sami said to the visitor, “Yes, he is here, but I’m afraid he’s tied up with official duties. Will you still be here next Wednesday when he has his monthly audience?”

“Didn’t there used to be a weekly audience?” Sami nodded. “Well, that’s what we came for, and then found out it had been changed.”

The end of weekly audiences had been a disaster. Donations had fallen by three-quarters but Guru Baba’s expenses continued to rise. His charitable projects, especially Free Giving, had proved very popular and taken on lives of their own. Sami had heard of Peak Oil – the notion that the world’s oil supply was diminishing, but population, and thus demand for oil, rising exponentially. This was Peak Toil; he had to work harder and harder in Guru Baba’s gift shop to meet his sales targets. Visitor numbers were decreasing but project costs were rising. It was entirely unsustainable.

“I’m very sorry,” Sami said to the visitor. “We have some new items that you may like though. How about these I Am Here For You Too dice, with one word on each side? It is Guru Baba’s most popular saying. And we have these I Love Change T-shirts. The logo of the eye in the heart in the triangle was designed by his good friend Mr Giorgio Armani. Yes, he was here at Easter. Did you see the photos? Guru Baba loved the holy robes he bought. We’re thinking of adding them to the product range. Would you be interested in those when available? You can leave us your email address.”

Sami tried his best to cheer up visitors but there was only so much he could do.

The visitor said, “If we can’t meet Guru Baba, can we at least get a signed photo?”

“Let me see,” said Sami. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Sami found Guru Baba in his chambers. For the past few months he had spent much of his time sitting silently or walking around ranting. Today he was walking around ranting. “You were not there for me, why should I be here for you?” he shouted, and, “I hate change!”

Poor guy, thought Sami. One of the world’s wisest, kindest men, reduced to this. Old age was a curse, particularly its gift of dementia.

Sami wondered who would be hurt by his signing the photo instead of Guru Baba. The visitor would be happy and donations would increase. He pulled out the black pen he used for checking off deliveries, and scrawled the world famous initials GB.

The visitor was thrilled. So were people who came the next day, and the day after that. There was a boom in visitors and donations. The charitable projects thrived.

Sami went to Guru Baba every day with photos, and returned with them all signed. One day the old man asked him, “Who signs all my photographs?”

Sami dropped his pen. Guru Baba smiled and said, “I think you understand Karma. It means action.”


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