Archive for karma

Politics of the Soul

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by javedbabar

The figure emerging from the twisted light took shape. Sami said, “Sophie? Is that you? How did you know where to find me?”

“It wasn’t that hard,” she said. “The valley only goes one way – west, and smoke only goes one way – up.”

Sami was hiding in a cabin at the top of the Valley, near Kalash, fifty kilometres from Lucerne. The sudden attention since Guru Baba’s death had been hard for him to handle, and he had decided to hide.

The Valley’s residents had protected him from numerous officials, reporters and stalkers chasing him. It was amazing what some well-placed Firing Range and Blast Area signs could do. There was no longer a need for Sami to dress up in his gorilla suit and chase people through the bush, which also worked. Good job it wasn’t hunting season.

“Would you like some tea? Hang on, I’ll just put the kettle on.” He went into the strange metal cabin; she heard water pouring.

Sophie admired the dark, glinting solar panels affixed to the roof. Sami emerged and joined Sophie on a fallen log, and she asked, “What are you doing out here on your own? People are worried about you.”

“Guru Baba had a lifetime to get used to fame; it was gradual. When he kissed me that day and said, “It is you,” and died, my life changed immediately. I wasn’t ready for it. It seemed that I had no choice, but then I realized I did.”

“Is this your choice then, to stay here, far away from people?”

He reached out and held her hand. “Not all people. Sophie, I’m not sure what my choice is. I can either remain apart from the world, with all its temptations and evil ways, or I can engage with it, and do what little good I can.”

Cottonwoods around them rustled in a burst of wind. Their leaves caused light to dance.

“Who wouldn’t want to stay here?” said Sophie. “It’s so peaceful and beautiful. There’s no pollution, no noise, no crowds, no stress, no expense. Whenever I step out of the door in the village I’ve spent twenty bucks. In the city it’s fifty. Here you are self-sufficient in everything – energy, water, food, and peace is everywhere, not just when you put on your headphones or lock your room.”

They sat in silence, listening to the river gushing, and watched a white mule deer wander on the far shore.

Sami said, “Guru Baba’s last kiss held messages for me, but I may need years to understand them.”

He looked so perturbed; she held his other hand too.

Sami continued, “He told me many things while I was working as his assistant. I didn’t understand them all, but somehow his final kiss brought them together. He said that to build a good society you need good people and dynamic interaction. He said the heart is the body’s strongest generator of electro-magnetism, constantly changing the fields around us. He said that like attracts like, and if we build our ideal selves, we attract, reflect and refract universal matter in powerful ways. He said that psychic self-control is the highest art; to keep your head when all around you others are losing theirs; and he said the psychic realm is both a cosmic ocean and a personal drop.”

Sami’s attention returned to the twisted light running through the valley from Mt Alba, a white sentinel above the village, to Mt Negra, dark guard at its other end. He became quiet.

After a while Sophie said, “Well, there are two drops here. Shall we rejoin the sea together, and be good people building the good society he spoke of?”

Sami continued looking into the twisted light, and said, “Maybe you’re right. You usually are. Guru Baba said that karma is not driven by thoughts but by actions. Give me another week here alone, and then I’ll join you.”

Pet Project

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami wasn’t sure if he was ready to create life – or at least not human life. Maybe he could start with something smaller, like a pet, or even smaller than that.

Having a 3D printer to play with was fun but was also daunting. Was it really true, that with the right materials he could create anything? Meeting Alfred was a stroke of luck. The young entrepreneur had invited Sami into the experimental shop where he was testing his new integrated technology.

“So what did you decide?” said Alfred. “Still interested in using organic materials?”

“Well yes, but nothing ambitious. We could start with amoeba or bacteria.”

“I’m not sure that would work,” said Alfred. “They are simple organisms that are easy to make in theory, but they are fragile. I don’t think they would survive the process. Also, it would be better to make something more tangible; it’s easier than making things we can’t see. We could try making an insect.”

“What about a worm?” said Sami. “I’ve always liked them, and they’re resilient. I hope worms have forgiven me for the experiments I performed on them as a child, cutting them into two, three, four or more pieces, and seeing which parts survived. We could make a worm. Bring one to life. That would improve my karma!”

“Okay, let’s make a worm.” Alfred tapped away at his computer, and printouts appeared on a small desktop printer.

Sami said, “Why don’t you use the 3D printer?”

Alfred looked sheepish. “It’s not very good with paper.” He gave Sami the printouts, which showed worm dissections along various axes.

“What about its biological systems? Will they work properly?”

“Yes, if there is enough detail. I’m going to set up the 3D printer. Can you find some more information on worms? Photos, videos, textbook pages, anything else you find interesting, and we’ll feed it into the printer, and use the integration tool. It combines all of the data to create a holistic model for production.”

Sami collated details of worms’ long, legless, tube-like bodies, their range of sizes from microscopic to over fifty metre long marine worms, their variety of parasitic niches or living freely on land, in marine or freshwater environments, their hermaphroditism and asexual reproduction, their ability to sense light, their muscular hydrostatic structure, the transmission of parasitic worms by mosquitos, their need for food, moisture, oxygen and favorable temperatures, their hatching from cocoons, their ability to replace or replicate lost segments, their valuable role in food chains, and their sticky slime that holds soil particles together.

Alfred reviewed the information before processing. “They are small but quite complex,” he said. “It will take two days to produce the worm.”

After 48 hours they examined the machine. There was nothing there.

“Damn!” said Alfred. “I don’t know what happened. Everything seemed to be working fine. All the key indicators were…”

“Uh-oh,” said Sami as he squashed something on the floor.

Communicate With Confidence

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

Danny wondered if there was there one truck in many places, or many trucks scattered around? They all looked the same; silver Nissan 4WD’s with canopies saying Communicate With Confidence, and a telephone number.

He never saw any of them driving around, or anyone inside one. The truck, or trucks, were parked around the village in various locations. He’d seen them in condo visitor parking lots, the long driveways of acreages, outside Village Hall, even at the police station.

Danny was intrigued and called the number. There was no music or welcoming message, just two rings, a click, and a robotic voice saying “Leave a message.”

Danny said, “Hello, this is a message for the person at, erm, Communicate With Confidence. I’ve seen your truck, or trucks, around the village, erm, Lucerne, that is. I was wondering what you do exactly. Can you please let me know. It’s Danny here. Thank you. Oh, my number is…”

The message clicked off before he could leave his number. He called back and repeated the message, but it again clicked off early. A third attempt had a similar result.

It was really annoying. What a stupid voicemail system; he wondered how they got any business. They must be successful though, because their truck, or trucks, seemed to be everywhere.

Danny saw a Communicate With Confidence truck in the car park of the Transparent Temple – the nickname for their glassy community centre – and decided to investigate. He asked the receptionist if there was a session in progress, and was directed to Room One. Danny peered in. About a hundred people filled the room, chanting. A sign at the front said simply Communicate! Many of the students turned towards him; Danny felt self conscious and walked away.

When Danny got home, he started thinking, what was it that he wished to communicate, and to who? Was it a message about looking for work? Was it a request to his bank to reduce his credit card rate? Was it a comment about the unfairness and unpredictable nature of the world?

He realized that what he wanted to say was, “Sophie, will you marry me?” They’d been dating for six months now. You either know, or you need to know. He’d been in this position with a previous partner and tried to do something about it. He’d done the right thing; he’d asked her. But his words had come out wrong. It had all gone wrong.

He re-called the number and left a message saying, “Hello, my name is Danny. I am in love with Sophie, and I wish to ask her to marry me. I wish to communicate this with confidence. Please help me to do this. My number is 604 698 6868.”

The voicemail accepted the full message. Five minutes later he received a text saying “We will be there at 9am.”

At exactly nine, the CWC van pulled into the car park of his condo complex. A woman in white overalls and flat cap handed him a business card saying, Mavis, 3C which she explained meant Confident Communication Consultant.

“How much do you charge?” said Danny.

“A dollar a minute,” said Mavis.

Danny received intensive counselling about Positive Thinking, Creative Visualization, the Law of Attraction and the Law of Karma. Mavis said that all of these affect your life deeply. Time flew by. When she ended the session he checked his watch, and saw that four hours had elapsed. He gulped.

“Don’t worry about that now,” she said. “We never chase customers. Our terms are payment upon results. I can say with confidence that you’ll pay us within three months.”

Seven Generations

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Nobody in the village had spoken to Breda for twenty four years. Seven generations ago, one of her ancestors had committed a crime, and since then all villagers had shunned her family.  The Nooranis were Quieted, which meant that they were not to be spoken to or spoken about, ever. It was as if they didn’t exist.

Life continued though, and they quietly went about their business in the Upper Valley. They were farmers and thus largely self-sufficient. They had all the food they needed – roots, fruits, meat and veggies –and could make do with or mend most objects. They were also able to trade with out-of-towners, who held no taboos, and engaged with them freely, but Lucerne’s citizens kept away from them entirely.

The only exception was shopping. They were allowed to buy what they needed from the grocery and hardware stores, but always in silence. Mt Alba and Mt Negra – the white and black peaks at opposite ends of the Valley – had been better companions to Breda growing up than anybody in Lucerne.

“Good day, love,” said the grocery store cashier. “How are you doing today?”

Breda dropped her cabbage. Somebody had spoken to her! How? Why? What for?

The cashier continued, “How was your weekend? Boy, it was hot on Sunday. Did you take a dip in the lake?”

Breda said, “Excuse me, are you talking to me?”

“Sure I am. I quit talking to myself years ago. I always chat to my customers. That’s the difference between this place and a box store. We give you personal service. Wasn’t it…”

Breda interrupted. “Do you know who I am? I’m a Noorani.”

“Yes, yes, I know that. Who doesn’t? But that’s neither here nor there now, isn’t it? The baby must be coming soon. When’s it due?”

Breda held onto the conveyor belt. So that was it! It was her baby! The child would be born of the eighth generation, and the taboo would be ended.

“Oh, I see you’ve got some nappies. You’ll be needing plenty of those! You might want to get a bigger pack next time. You’ll get through those in a flash. Do you want to change the pack? I’m sure the people behind you won’t mind much. They’ll understand the situation. Wait! You don’t want to walk up and down the aisle in your condition. Let me call one of the assistants…”

Breda was lost for words. This rush of engagement was overwhelming. It was like a desert becoming a lake. She was not ready to respond.

For Breda’s twenty four years of life, nobody in the village had spoken to her or her family. She had been made an outcast for crimes that had nothing to do with her at all. She didn’t even know what her great-great-great-great grandmother had done in the first place, and what was the chance of a fair trial for women in those days? Was there even any evidence? It was likely a baseless accusation for personal reasons, by a vicious neighbour, a zealous parishioner, or greedy rival.

Breda declined the cashier’s offer of getting a bigger pack of nappies. She bagged her own items and headed out of the store.

Two women passing greeted her effusively. “Oh Breda! Look at you now! When’s it due?” These were girls that she had studied with. They’d not spoken to her during her schooldays – never, ever – yet now asked after her mother and sisters. She didn’t know what to say to them, so grunted and headed to her truck.

A guy in a white half-sleeved shirt, on his lunch break from the bank, helped to load her groceries into the cab. He asked after her brother, to whom he had never spoken.

Breda started the truck and headed up the Lucerne Valley Road. As she rounded a bend near the river, she saw more people she knew that had never, ever spoken to her. They now waved cheerily and made signs to call them.

Breda considered swinging her truck towards them. Hitting them hard and sending their bodies flying into the river. These people had condemned her for things she hadn’t done; at least then they would have a reason to hate her and the next seven generations of her family. But then she thought, why not make this eight generation different?

People's Kitchen

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was unhappy working for HOT TV. She knew that it served a purpose, giving single mothers a way to earn a living in otherwise job-scarce Lucerne; but there had to be a better way to use her talents as a producer. There also had to be a better way to use The Place – the renovated car park at the centre of the village – than filling it with girls in hot pants and bra tops.

She’d developed a concept called TOT TV, where the girls focussed on activities to entertain their young children, but it hadn’t acquired traction. It seemed that the greater demand right now was not for colourful boards with snakes and ladders, but for neon skimpies with shakes and judders.

The Place had really been smartened up, with water features spouting and sparkling, and spiky plants with bright flowers, but that was only the smiling centre, where happy families came to chat, stroll and snack. During her daily filming, Sophie noticed a ragged edge to the village. People on the margins of this community were struggling. The HOT TV girls had found one way of coping, but others daily visited gas stations, hardware and grocery stores asking for non-existent jobs. There was poverty and hunger here, leading to desperation.

As Sophie shot vignettes about how much fun it was to live in Lucerne, continually shouting “Action!” and “Cut!” – she developed a feeling of unease. She saw affluent families, a mix of locals and visitors, enjoying The Place’s new retail and dining options. Yet on the edge of this showpiece “communal” space, just out of view, hungry eyes were peering. Families at leisure wasted food; as soon as they left, but before the cleaning crews, swift hands pulled it into the shadows.

Restaurants around the square also wasted food. To attract the widest range of customers they featured extensive menus, with local, national, international and seasonal dishes. This required vast ingredient stocks, not all of which were used. The Authority’s health and safety regulations forbade re-use of ingredients. They were thrown into large bins that were locked immediately, for retrieval only by trash crews.

Sophie asked one of the girls, Jeannie, “Is there something we can do about this? It’s ridiculous that there are people hungry every day, and food gets wasted before our eyes.”

“I was chatting with the other girls,” said Jeannie. “We were thinking of cooking for everyone.”

“What do you mean by everyone?” said Sophie. “You mean the general public?”

“Yes, we could approach the restaurants for spare ingredients…” Sophie tried to interrupt but Jeannie kept talking; it was this determination that kept her dancing like a monkey in front of rolling cameras to feed her child. “I’m sure they would find a way around the regulations. Say once a month, we could have a People’s Kitchen, where we cook up whatever we have, and people bring whatever they can, and we all eat together.”

“Like a huge potluck?” said Sophie.

“Yes, but it’s not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of intention.” Sophie was impressed by her thinking and agreed to help.

On the last day of the month, when restaurants rotated their ingredient stocks, the HOT TV girls wandered around collecting ingredients, and developed recipe plans based on their haul. The next evening at the centre of The Place, they set up the People’s Kitchen and cooked dinner for everyone. Their free ingredients, with added herbs and spices, made fabulous stews, stir-fries, curries and roasts, accompanied by some salads and sweets.

“I have an idea,” said Jeannie. “Let’s make a monthly show to highlight what we are doing here, called LOT TV.” Sophie nodded her head upward indicating the need for further explanation. Jeannie said, “We were chatting while we were cooking. We believe in the Laws of Karma and Attraction. The more everybody gives, the more we all have.”

I underestimated them, thought Sophie. These HOT TV girls are on fire.

The Squirm

Posted in Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by javedbabar

The squirm was warm, wriggling in juices; it was so easy and cosy, just hanging around. There is a difference between being aware and being conscious. The squirm was aware of its sensual context, but not capable of conscious thought.

How had the squirm arrived in this situation? It was difficult to say. Had it made a crazy journey from somewhere, inching along, or had it been swimming along? The time before the journey was unknown; maybe it didn’t exist, or maybe it was an impossible conception of time; the squirm couldn’t know; it was alive but not conscious.

The squirm had been growing rapidly. It doubled, quadrupled, octupled, and whatever comes next, till it was now 128 times its original size. This critical mass triggered an autonomous reaction; the squirm’s resources were depleted and it needed nourishment and a safe place to settle. The squirm’s outer parts reached for a hold, found a good spot and anchored, then reached in further and formed a permanent attachment. The waters rushing past it were a hazard, and it needed to be away from their flow; if they caught him again, they would take the squirm past the pool of possibility into the dead zone. It was already weakened and fading fast…

The squirm’s outer parts tapped nourishment, and it quickly revived; there was a great rush through its body, too much to bear initially, and it became disorientated. Then the flow settled and its awareness evolved.

There came a new sensation, a conscious germ. The squirm had connected to its maker for the first time since becoming a full being. Its origins were an egg about to be released by its dark-maker, but activated in time by its light-maker, to become a whole squirm capable of undertaking its first journey alone.

The squirm’s conscious flash revealed that after conception comes incarnation; there is a moment of decision when a spark of life becomes anything it chooses. It has the love of its dark-maker and the support of its light-maker, but is in truth an independent being. At the moment it rejoins its source, the squirm’s cosmic form is decided.

The human race is encoded with essential knowledge; awareness of every sentient being. Algae, fish, lizards and monkeys are ancestors; ants, cows and eagles are relatives. At inception, every possible life form flashes through our minds – amoeba, worm, fish, cow, snake, ape, lion, bear, whale, human – and further possibilities: superhuman, artificially intelligent being, empowered neural network, planetary, galactic, and cosmic being.

Two Laws of the Universe decide our form. The Law of Attraction calls forth our desires to manifest corporeally. The Law of Karma defines just possibilities of being.

At that moment of connection to its source, the squirm could become anything. It’s previous form as an organic farmer in India was cut short by debts to chemical companies, leaving no option but to commit suicide to end this bondage, and free his family from debt.

This ending of life was performed selflessly; a chance was given to begin life again in a better place. Lucerne.

The squirms inner cells formed two layers. One layer began to develop into lungs, stomach and gut; the other into heart, blood and bones. A layer of cells folded into a hollow tube that became a brain and nervous system. A string of blood vessels connected the foetus to the mother more securely, like a farmer to land. Its tail faded, dimples became ears, thickenings became eyes, bumps became muscles, and swellings became limbs, all of which would work together to crawl into the world again.

Litterbug

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by javedbabar

After work Sophie often went for a stroll in the Botanical Garden. The West Coast flora belonged there of course, but the Amazonian Rainforest, Egyptian Oasis, and Babylonian Hanging Gardens had been nurtured by the Zoological Society of Lucerne. Still, once they were established, they would develop interrelated environmental factors and form a functioning ecosystem. She loved pristine nature, even if it was in the wrong place.

Nature wasn’t always pretty, she knew, but it was perfectly self-regulating. A thin layer of gases, held in place by gravity, were the key active factor sustaining the planetary ecosystem. They allowed life on earth. The price of that life was the occasional hurricane, tornado, tsunami, and flood (in addition to geological effects like earthquakes and volcanic explosions), but beneficial atmospheric effects outweighed harmful ones. Life hung in a fine balance though; living organisms interacted with other elements in local environments, and must be careful not to overwhelm them.

Sophie noticed a man standing on the main path ahead of her. He was fumbling in all his pockets for something, which he found in his left hand trouser pocket. He withdrew a packet of cigarettes, unwrapped the cellophane, and threw it on the floor. He flipped the lid off the pack, withdrew a cigarette, flicked his lighter, lit up and began puffing.

Sophie couldn’t stop herself – she ran right towards him and said, “Excuse me; I think you’ve dropped something.”

The man had seen her running towards him, and rather than smile – either innocently or with embarrassment – he had stared at her breasts bouncing. He said, “No I haven’t.”

Yes you have,” said Sophie insistently. “You’ve dropped something.”

“I don’t think so,” said the man and turned away, and took a long draw of his cigarette.

“I saw you unwrap your cigarettes and throw the plastic covering on the ground.”

The man turned to face her. “So what? It’s not your business. If you don’t like it, why don’t you pick it up?”

Sophie didn’t back down. He saw she was fuming and tried another tack. “It’s biodegradable. I think it says on the…”

Here was a chance to engage further; he was stepping back; they could negotiate; end things nicely together.

Sophie’s confidence was due to her being a practitioner of One-Do, a rediscovered martial art. It integrated all other styles into a higher level of performance. She was scared of no one, not even if they held a weapon. The mind of a One-Do master triumphed over physical threats every time.

However Sophie was not yet a master. Her one year of training had made her a next-level novice. There was no real hierarchy in One-Do. Just levels and next levels.

“Throwing litter is disgusting!” she shouted. “It ruins the environment. You’re disgusting! Some people improve the places they visit. You make them worse. You’re a disgusting person!” She stormed off before she’d have to hit him. The man was bemused by her ferocity but continued smoking.

The Botanical Garden’s creator, known as The Gardener, had observed these events from the far end of the main path. He called his pupil Sophie over, and said, “Watch this.” He whispered something to the small silver monkey on his left shoulder, and it jumped up into the trees.

A moment later, the disgusting man was hit by a banana, then a coconut, and then a heavy palm frond fell right on his head. His cigarette and his life were extinguished. It was a natural occurrence. It seemed inevitable. This is the way of One-Do.

Drunky Taxis

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny was drunk for the third time this week at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. The barman was considering giving him a one week ban, but then he thought, where else would he go? The guy was already lost in life; why steal away one of his few remaining anchors?

He’d had one too many though, and was annoying customers; Donna in particular. It was a wonder that she put up with his persistent propositions and bullshit without calling him out. A guy would have decked him along ago. Maybe women were just nicer.

“Time to go home, my friend,” the barman said to Danny. “Better make sure you’ve got your keys. You don’t want to be locked out do you?” When Danny drew his keys out of his pocket to check, the barman swiped them. This worked every time with drunks. The barman pulled out Danny’s car keys, put them in a tin behind the bar, and returned the rest of the bunch to its owner. “Time to go home, my friend.”

Danny didn’t protest; he knew where he stood here. He was a hopeless drunk and his opponent was the king of this joint. The barman said, “I’ve called you a taxi. It will be here in five minutes. You can wait outside.”

Danny got into the taxi and asked how much it would be to Kalash, the subdivision beyond the Golden turnoff, way up the Lucerne Valley Road. The taxi driver said, “That will be fifty bucks, pal.”

Danny laughed heartily. “That’s a good one, buddy. How much really?”

“It’s fifty bucks, my friend. I’m giving you a break already. It’s thirty kilometres at two bucks per click, that’s sixty bucks, and at this time I could charge you half-rate for the return trip. But I won’t do that.”

“Fifty bucks!” said Danny, his head in hands. “Fifty bucks!” He started sobbing, then opened the door, cursed the driver and got out. “F***ing drunky taxis! Fifty bucks! Stuff it up your ass!”

The driver radioed his base to report an abusive passenger and drove away. Danny re-entered the bar. The barman called out, “Hey there, I told you already, time to go home.”

Danny told the barman that the taxi had refused to take him as far as Kalash. The barman shook his head and called one from the other company in town.

Danny tried his negotiation skills again, but the driver stuck to the standard rate of sixty bucks, and also wanted half-rate return, so it would now cost ninety bucks. “Ninety bucks!” wailed Danny. “Ninety bucks! The other driver was charging me fifty!”

The driver said, “Well you should have gone with him then, pal.”

Danny asked the barman to order him another cab, but he refused. Danny called both companies himself, but they declined to transport him.

“How much money to stay here?” he asked the barman. “Upstairs in the rooms?”

“It’s sixty bucks a night, my friend.”

“Sixty bucks!” he cried. “Sixty bucks!” He winked at Donna along the bar, nudged up and smiled at her. “How about sharing a room here, honey? Only thirty bucks each.”

The barman was stunned when she agreed to the proposal and led him off to bed. The barman didn’t know that in the real world, Danny had been a real gentleman. Donna had been a troubled woman, who Danny had helped, expecting nothing in return. She had later almost died from a drugs overdose, and his permanent vegetative state was the result of a stroke.

They were both now living their lives via virtual retinal projections. Some people coped with this change better than others. Donna knew that Danny wasn’t doing so well, and needed a hand now.

Moti Mahal

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Amin was not himself. Though he bore his usual impish smile, and walked around in his usual attire – shirt and tie, and sleeveless sweater – he muttered beneath his breath. Clients of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre were not used to seeing their manager behave like this. Zoe the cook overheard him when he came to the kitchen to make tea. He said, “It’s the law of life. It’s an ancient tradition. It’s biologically ingrained. It’s a moral duty.”

Half an hour later he was back for another cup, still muttering. “But now they feel differently. They say we’re individuals. We’re all responsible for ourselves.”

Zoe wondered if she should say something now. She tried to catch his eye but was unable to, so just said quietly, “Mr Amin… is everything alright today?”

“Yes yes,” he said. “They come once a year. They are coming today. That’s all.” He would say nothing further, and made his tea and left the kitchen.

Later that morning, Zoe said to Smuel the driver, “What’s up with Mr Amin? He seems really bothered.”

He said, “I’m not sure. Shall we ask him?”

They went to Mr Amin’s office together, and Smuel said, “Mr. Amin, you seem troubled today. We were wondering what’s happened, and if we could help you in any way.”

“Nothing’s happened – why should it?” He was hostile to their enquiries so they went away. Only last week he had told them of his dream of living in a moti mahal, a palace of pearls, in the next world. How he’d clammed up.

At midday exactly two cars pulled up. They were of similar make and model, except that one was black with number plate A1 and the other was white with number plate A2. A man stepped out of each car at exactly the same moment. From the black car came a black man wearing a black suit, with black shirt and tie, and black socks and shoes. From the white car came a white man wearing a white suit, with white shirt and tie, and white socks and shoes. Their features looked similar and familiar. They both looked somewhat like Mr. Amin.

The white man pushed open both sides of the Centre’s double doors, and walked in haughtily. The black man pushed open one door only and smiled at the Centre’s clients as he entered. If it wasn’t a crazy thing to suggest, Smuel would have said that they were differently coloured twins.

The white man pushed open Mr Amin’s office door without knocking or calling. He entered and closed the door behind him, and Smuel heard voices raised from within. If they got much louder, he would check to see if Mr Amin was O.K. The heated discussion lasted five minutes before the white man came out, scowling and cursing beneath his breath. The black man knocked and went into Mr Amin’s office, and their voices remained low. A few minutes later the black man emerged, smiling broadly. Both men headed back to their cars.

Smuel didn’t know how to handle this situation. As an employee of Open Hearts he need not do anything. No crime had been committed and management appeared to have the situation under control. As a person, however, he couldn’t stand it. Who was this white man who had upset his impish boss? And who was the black man who had soothed him?

Smuel ran outside and tapped on the white car’s window. The white man rolled it down and said, “How may I help you?”

Smuel said, “What did you say to Mr. Amin? Why were you rude to him?”

The man said, “I didn’t say anything to him, and I wasn’t rude to him.”

“Don’t be smart. I saw you. You went into his office and shouted at him.”

“Believe me,” said the white man. “He shouted at me first. He always does. That’s why I was in a bad mood when I entered. I knew what to expect, and now that it’s over with, I’m relaxed.”

“Why does he shout at you?” said Smuel, confused.

Smuel hadn’t noticed Zoe come outside. While he’d been talking to the white man, Zoe had engaged the black man. He heard a furious exchange between them. He never would have imagined Zoe using such words. He ran over to the black car immediately. Zoe was crying, so he held her. It seemed so natural. “What happened?” he said.

“That black man was nice only on the surface. He was rotten within. He came here to threaten Mr Amin. That’s why he was so carefree. And he only seemed quiet because his threats were muttered.”

“But who are they?” said Smuel, staring after the disappearing cars.

They saw Mr Amin peering scared from his office window. He was a gentle soul now, manager of a not-for-profit social service ensuring that Ma, Pa, Grandma, and Grandpa had something to look forward to daily. He was unquestionably doing public good. But before retiring to Canadia, he had been Minister of Culture for Northern India. He was a corrupt killer, a most evil man. The Agents of Karma tracked him everywhere, and once a year they came to check in. At the end of his life their collated reports would determine whether Mr Amin would reside in a palace of pearls or a demonic dungeon.

Mining Data

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak. Gemma’s knitting was getting on his nerves today, and Mr Amin wondered why. She was usually a quiet presence in the corner of the lounge and her daily knitting was reassuring – something small and progressive in a huge unstable world. He liked to watch her knitting and purling, creating new patterns on new garments to enrich people’s lives. There were hats and socks and sometimes jumpers. Mr Amin saw that her knitting style was changing. Each stitch was smaller and tighter, as if pulled into itself, and she was working faster. He wondered whether she was working towards some crazy knitting goal, or it was just natural progression of skill

James seemed to be unsettled. Mr Amin said, “How are you doing today?” James didn’t respond directly but rolled his eyes and his head gave a shudder. Something was bothering him. When someone is the victim of a serious stroke, it’s hard to say what. Mr Amin held his hand briefly and said, “Be well, James. Be well.” He wondered what people did to end up like this. Was Karma just?

“What are you doing to him?” said Gemma, looking up from her knitting without speed or rhythm wavering. “He won’t respond to you. Why do you bother?”

Her insensitivity annoyed Mr Amin but she couldn’t rile a trained diplomat so easily. He said, “It’s always worth bothering with people, Gemma. You never really know how you will affect them, so I feel it is best to treat people kindly, and what happens after that is beyond my control.”

Gemma said, “Huh!” and clicked her needles more loudly. Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK.

He felt that he had better sooth her too, saying, “What are you making Gemma? Is it a hat?”

She brightened at the opportunity to talk about herself. “Yes it is. I sell them to Guru Baba’s disciples. Because of my career as a math teacher, I know about sacred geometry, it’s just combinations of shapes. They want a set of twelve hats with holy symbols. This one has OM.”

“What about the others? What’s on those?”

“Well, here’s my list. There’s OM right here, then a Cross, Star of David, Crescent Moon, Dharma Wheel, Khanda, Taijitu, Water symbol, Torii Gate, Bahai Star, Pentagram, and Black Sun, the symbol of mystics.”

Mr Amin thought back to his father’s funeral forty two years ago, with OM’s and swastikas chalked around the pyre. His father had risen from a small village to become Northern India’s Minister of Culture, a wonderful model for social mobility. He had become very wealthy and had the ability to get anything done, even the impossible – like freeing up land for power projects. Imagine if the dams and drilling hadn’t gone through – India’s development would have been hampered. Despite Mr Amin and his brothers finding daily blackouts exciting, in later years he felt sad that his nation couldn’t even keep its fridges running.

He was proud of his father’s achievements and had entered politics at an early age. He had risen in the diplomatic service before being himself appointed Minister of Culture upon his father’s death. He was shocked when he examined his father’s files though. Many were missing and the ones present bore great holes. Financial ones. His father had not been as noble as he had thought. It was India after all. Everybody was corrupt. His discovery shouldn’t take anything away from his father’s achievements. His administration was just tempered by practicality. Mr Amin wondered why he was thinking about this now. He hadn’t done so in years.

Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK.

James too was thinking about his father, who’d run a mining company in BC. He’d come from Ireland with nothing and spent ten years searching for gold. His claim near Golden had eventually yielded rich results and he had become very wealthy. Rather than squander his gains though, he had used them to build up his business, expanding from Golden into other parts of BC. James had loved the extraction operations. He’d operated trucks and crushers from an early age, mining copper, silver, nickel, and zinc. His father was especially proud when James made his own discoveries.

On James’s 21st birthday, his father had said “Son you are ready to take over from me. I’ve spend much of my life here, and now I’m going out to see the world. He had travelled to the world’s great holy places – its great excavations and constructions – Rome, Delphi, Jerusalem, Giza, Petra, Moenjodaro, and the Taj Mahal. In India he’d heard about a big mining company behaving badly. He’d discovered that to secure extraction rights they were destroying an ancient temple and forcing poor villagers from their homes. He’d started a campaign to save the village and temple. The big mining company had complained to Mr Amin Sr., the Minister of Culture, who decided that this foreigner was a threat to the development of his nation’s resources, and also to his fat commission. James’s father disappeared one day on a site visit, and his body was never found.

Now at Open Hearts seniors daycare centre it was Mr Amin’s duty to care for James. Karma was more complex than straight addition and subtraction. Fathers’ sins were also visited upon sons. Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak.