Archive for attraction

Black Van

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Zoe asked Smuel, “Do you like driving around all day?”

He said, “Sure, but it depends on the day.” He checked his mirror and pulled out from behind a tractor, overtook it, and pulled in again. “That, for example, was an easy manoeuvre. It’s always a pleasure driving on the Lucerne Valley Road. But when I go to Strattus – or God forbid, the City – it’s not much fun.”

“Why is that?”

“Traffic mainly, but also parking, pollution, tempers, and wasted time. I really don’t like driving there.”

Soon they were at Open Hearts seniors daycare centre. Smuel dropped Zoe at the kitchen entrance and helped her unload produce and supplies. He enjoyed their weekly shopping trip together. She was a real nice lady, that Zoe, and a damn good cook too. Her cooked lunch was his main meal of the day. It was healthy, fresh, and free. If he didn’t fill up here he had only junk food to look forward to on his way home. As he was about to leave he said, “And do you like working in the kitchen all day?”

“The same as you, it depends on the day. I’ve worked at pubs, diners, restaurants, hotels, and at all kinds of events, but making meals here is quite a task. God help me with Irene’s vegan diet, James’s mainly liquids, Gemma’s organic food, Albert’s wish to eat local, and Mr. Amin’s dharmic requirements. I wish that manna would come down from heaven and that would be the end of it, or maybe we should just cut a deal with Pizza Hut.”

“But you love cooking,” said Smuel. “I’ve seen you. It’s what you were born to do.”

“You’re right,” said Zoe. “But sometimes I wonder if I should do something different. You know, have a total change. Go somewhere new and do something new. But my Tom likes it here. He says, ‘I was born here, I live here, and I will die here.’ So I guess that’s that.”

Smuel had held office jobs for twenty years, but then one day his life changed. His wife had an affair with his boss and left him. He wondered what the point of it all was – commuting daily, working for that swine, and killing himself with stress. The girls were grown up and he could be free now. He took his share of money from the house sale and came to Lucerne, where he was able to buy a condo outright, so all he needed to cover were daily expenses. The driver’s job at Open Hearts was not well paid but it paid enough, and he could use the minibus for personal errands. No more office jobs. Just the open road. What could be better?

He’d grown to love the old people too. “Clients” they called them in official language. His first pick up daily was the manager, Mr. Amin. What a funny guy he was, he’d been a diplomat in India, but you’d never know it. He treated people with great respect, as if they were diplomats themselves. He had a strange way of dealing with problems though. He’d call you into his office in the middle of the day. If you’ve got bad news then tell a man in the morning and give him the day to deal with it, thought Smuel, or at the end of the day so he can go home and mull it over. Not slap bang in the middle of the day!

He recalled being in trouble for not completing James’s paperwork. The guy’s a stroke victim – doesn’t move much, and doesn’t say a word – so what is there to write down about him? “James did nothing” and “James said nothing”? Ridiculous. It was just as stupid as office work. Mr. Amin said that he also didn’t like paperwork but The Authority required it, so would Smuel please ensure that it was completed daily. Smuel had of course said yes, but stewed that afternoon, driving around in his hot vehicle. Telling him in the morning would have been better. Or the evening.

He really liked Irene. She wasn’t a big talker, but was clearly a big thinker. Some of the things she said were so deep that he’d think about them for days after. When she told him about the Two Laws of the Universe – those of Attraction and Karma – he’d viewed his life in quite a different light. It was true that he had wished for and somehow manifested a life of beauty in the Lucerne Valley, and a life of ease driving around in the sunshine, and that maybe he had earned all this in a previous life through meritorious actions. He wondered if he really had lived before? Would he live again?

Smuel was less keen on constantly knitting, grumpy ex-math teacher Gemma, though she had her moments – such as getting drunk at the Christmas party and performing a slow “knit-tease”. Thank God Mr. Amin had stopped her unravelling her clothes before she’d revealed too much wrinkly thigh.

Albert, however, was always fun. This ex-cowboy quipped constantly and dispensed range wisdom. His impressions of Chinese Cowboy “Yee-Ha” and Indian Cowboy “Ride’em Singh” were hilarious, though of course he wasn’t allowed to perform them at the centre because they “infringed politically correct protocols”.

Smuel drove the seniors to and from their homes, to various physical and mental doctors, on shopping trips to Squashy’s malls, and daytrips to lakes and waterfalls. The black minivan was perfect for these outings, though the Centre should paint it a different colour. It wasn’t cheerful. Mr. Amin said they couldn’t do that as renting it out for funerals supplemented the Centre’s income. Well why not paint it white and rent it for weddings?

He couldn’t help wondering if Zoe would like to leave the kitchen one day and hit the road with him. Not only to do something new, somewhere new – but with someone new? Why not ride a white van today together, rather than await tomorrow’s black van which you only rode alone?

Questionnaires

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by javedbabar

“What are these for?” said Irene, fiddling with the white envelopes and then holding one at arms length and reading. “The Authority, 10001 The City. Why are you giving them to me? Why don’t you take them to the Post Office?”

“There are questionnaires inside the envelopes,” said Mr. Amin. “I’d like you to hand one out to everybody here.”

He could have done it himself, but then what could Irene do? Just sit there doing nothing? As manager of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre he had to be ingenious at all times, which was the only way to keep the place running. “When completed, they should go back in the envelopes and be returned to me. Then I will take them to the Post Office.”

“What are they for?” said Irene. “I’ve filled out enough forms to last me two lifetimes. We all have. What don’t they know about us already? We’re old and we’re dying. What else is there to know?”

“Irene,” said Mr. Amin. “We are regulated by The Authority. There have been bad news stories about care homes recently, and they are a hot topic provincially. The Authority is doing some Quality Control.”

“What’s the point of doing surveys now? It will take them years to analyse results and implement changes. By then we’ll all be dead!”

Mr. Amin knew she was right. The Authority’s capitalist system was based upon dissatisfaction. Do satisfied people feel the need to buy things to prove that “they’re worth it”? Of course not. They stay at home and appreciate simple pleasures. You may as well do what good you could though. He said to Irene, “We’ll be dead anyway, so why not help future generations of oldies?”

“Okay, I will. Why not? What have we got to lose? Don’t blame me for what they write though. They’re not all in the best of moods, or even sane.”

Irene walked over to Gemma. She didn’t want to interrupt her knitting, so stood over her for a while. There was no appreciable slowing of her knitting and purling of purple and white yarns. Irene cleared her throat and said, “Gemma, may I give you something?”

Gemma’s needles slipped. She grimaced to herself, and looked up furiously. “What do you want! Disturbing a woman doing her knitting. You should know better than that! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”

“I’m sorry Gemma. I tried to get your attention but you were too engrossed. What are you making?”

Gemma was still irritated and said sarcastically, “Can’t you see? It’s the fabric of life. The knit is what should happen to you, and the purl is what does happen.” She jabbed a needle.

Irene said, “I didn’t know that you took it so seriously. I thought it was just a pastime, making bootees for your grandchildren.”

“I don’t have any grandchildren,” she said. “Or any children, for that matter.”

Maybe Gemma was onto something, thought Irene. The yarn was a good analogy. The Two Laws of the Universe did create a kind of fabric. The weft was the Law of Attraction, drawing you along, and the warp was the Law of Karma, pulling you up or down. Us oldies must be getting wise.

Gemma said, “So why are you bothering me? What’s in that envelope?”

“It’s a questionnaire about the Centre. Please complete the questions and return it to Mr. Amin.”

“You must be joking. I was a high school teacher for thirty years. A damned fine one too. I’ve taught every person in Lucerne under forty to add, subtract, multiply and divide, and the smarter ones square roots, squares, integration, and differentiation too. And then they saddled me with so many forms to complete, lesson plans to create, reports to write, key stages to follow, observations to pass, and endless other bureaucracy that I had a nervous breakdown. Can you understand? Someone who could add real and imaginary numbers, divide by irrational ones, and multiply by transcendent ones with her eyes closed, was made to drown in a sea of stupid papers. Idiotic! Vacuous! Pointless! I never recovered and never returned to work. All I’m doing now is waiting to die. The last thing I want to do is complete any more forms.”

Irene told Gemma that she didn’t need to complete the form. She would explain to Mr. Amin, who would understand surely. She handed out forms to others more successfully, and then came to James. She wondered what to do with his form. He sat there all day, unresponsive to everybody – even to her, his one-time soulmate, so many lives ago, but he couldn’t even look back into her loving eyes now. That was life. Or should she say that was lives? She decided to complete the questionnaire for him.

It was a simple system. There were twelve questions, with a choice of responses – Good, OK, or Bad. She looked into his eyes as she asked each question, hoping for a clue to his thoughts. She asked him what he thought of the location of the centre, its facilities, staff, the food, the information they provided, responses to clients’ concerns, the treatment of visitors, their occasional excursions, overall cleanliness, healthy and artistic activities, daily timings, transport. “Anything else?”

He stared blankly ahead throughout her questioning, and gave no indications at all. She ticked OK for all of the questions. Maybe the conditions of his next life would be Good.

Who knew what The Authority would do with the results anyway? Would they reduce services to dissatisfied respondents for being unappreciative? They were just as likely to reduce services to satisfied ones, thinking that they were getting more than they deserved. Why should unproductive members of society be so happy? If everybody felt like that, The Authority’s economic system, based upon perennial dissatisfaction, would fall apart.

Two Laws

Posted in Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Noop hobbled into the lounge and looked around her. It was airy, bright and open. The small manager welcomed her personally, saying, “Mrs. Irene Todd, it’s always nice to see new faces. I hope that we will see you here often.”

She said, “I’ve been quite busy since Aidan died. It’s been a difficult period.”

“We’ll do whatever we can to help you.” He indicated the staff now busy making dinner. “Our main goal is sociability. We like to draw people out.” He smiled at her like an imp. He was an imp. “So please don’t be shy.” It must be hard work “drawing people out” she thought. Some of them were drooling and dazed. Thankfully she still had her wits about her. That was a nice little temple they’d made, with different gods and goddesses. There were Ram & Sita. Why did it feel so natural to say Hai Ram?

“Please make yourself comfortable,” said the manager. “Will you be dining with us, or have you brought your own lunch?”

“I will be eating here,” she said. She hadn’t heard great things about the food, but wanted to try it. She hoped it was something spicy, even if they made it poorly. It would be better than bland food.

“Okay, great. I’ll introduce you to some of the others at lunch. Will you be okay here for a while? I’ve just got to call the Village about transport, and the Medical Centre about their new healthy eating guidelines. As you can see, bureaucracy never ends – even when our lives do.”

Noop sat on the sofa outside the manager’s office. She could have walked over to the other women, but preferred to be introduced. There aren’t many men here, she thought. They must have disappeared early like her Aidan. How did the tradition develop – all over the world – of men marrying younger women? On average men die five years before women – it doesn’t make sense. Hai Ram.

Her Aidan had been a good man mostly. He’d provided well for her and the kids. He’d built her a home. He’d taken her on holidays. He’d bought her flowers and gifts. In fifty years he’d never missed one Valentines’ Day. “There was more than one St. Valentine,” he said. “Maybe three or four. But all were martyrs. Let’s go one day to Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, and see St. Valentine’s flower-crowned skull.” They’d never made it. Like the manager here, Aidan complained about bureaucracy. He blamed it for most things – even their lack of seeing the flower-crowned skull. “Bloody governments,” he said. “Making rules and regulations. How’s a man ever to fight his way out? My skull is crowned with photocopies and receipts.” He’d done his best. He was a good husband. But in her heart she had always known that he wasn’t her true love.

Noop looked across the room and saw…

The next thing she knew, bright lights filled her eyes. She was looking up at the ceiling. What had happened? Was she lying on the floor? The manager’s imp face was close to her, saying, “Mrs. Todd? Can you hear me? Irene?” Other staff crowded around her. She panicked at first, but relaxed quickly. This wasn’t the first time. She knew it had happened before. But where? And why? The man she’d seen was known to her. But who was he?

An ambulance came and took her to the hospital. They said that it was just a momentary lapse. Nothing to worry about. She checked out later the same day.

Noop should have stayed at home the next day, but just had to go to the Centre. She knew the man there. He didn’t seem to recognize her though. He had lost his mind. He was drooling slightly. She wiped his mouth with a tissue. Other women began gossiping about her. She didn’t care. The way he looked at her. He knew too. So late in this life! Why so late in this life! But they were still connected. Hai Ram.

Through Noop’s many lifetimes, with many different names, one thing had become clear. That there were only two laws at work in the world. The Law of Attraction and the Law of Karma.

The Law of Attraction was qualitative. There were no absolutes. Its vehicle was your imagination. Whatever you thought about, desired wholeheartedly, and worked towards was ultimately yours. It may take a while to get there, but it would come. Noop and Raja had been circling each other for countless lifetimes, like the gods Ram and Sita. They came together like sugar and water, dissolving into each other completely. But that water was spilled again after forty, fifty, or seventy years. They were entwined and could never be separated entirely, but must find new containers to mingle. That was their endless journey, to find a grail in which to merge. Maybe one day forever.

The Law of Karma, however, didn’t make things easy. You did the best you could, given your circumstances. You tried to be diligent, hardworking, truthful, just, and kind. You retained faith in God and fulfilled your earthly duty. But no one knew the repercussions of their every action, multiplied infinitely. You did your best, that’s all you could do – and that changed continually: with each moment, day, year, and lifetime. Karma was quantitative: a huge balance sheet of plus and minus – leading to a grand net total. If positive – you advanced, and if negative – you retreated. So it was.

Plato spoke of divided souls, searching for their completion. Sufis yearned for a return to their original unity. All lovers seek soulmates. Twin flames, lit from the same source, can merge again. But till then they must wander as lone sparks.

Noop looked into Raja’s eyes, though he didn’t seem to be looking into hers. She held his hand, squeezed his fingers, and said, “I have found you again, my love. I am your Sita. Hai Ram.