Tuesday, January 26, 2016


This night, after supper we bought some buns and bananas, had our flasks filled with coffee, and went out of the camp. We decided that it would be cooler on the railway platform: No trains but the one which steamed in and out at about seven in the evening - and we could sit or sprawl on the deserted platform and make a picnic, a second supper so to say.

A gentle breeze was blowing, the red signal lights winked at us, to right and left the railway track ran and lost itself in the curves, the stars sparkled above.

"Maybe Krishna or Joan will say something?" said Ram.

"Let him have the chance," said Joan, "but, gee, it is not enough light here, and half the fun in listening is looking. Wish we had lights or were back in the hut, cosy place. Here it will be like talking to the winds."

Ram agreed. "It does make a difference, doesn't it - listening to a person in front of you, or over a phone or in the dark - yes, I think Joan is right. The effect is different, somehow; I didn't think of it."

"Things look different, but are they different," said Domby, "Sankar was saying something about it the other day, wasn't he?" Today he had a rosary in his hands.

"Ah," said Sankar, "but that is the point - one must first know what the things are, and then only one can say if they are different. It is as if knowing comes first! Knowing seems to help or hinder listening and seeing - or is it? I do not know. Right now I only know that I too would love to see the face I am talking to, or the face that is talking to me."

"I don't say that exactly I love to see the faces when listening - only I feel better - I feel more sure of what is talking to me, some vague idea of the thing, some feeling of the shape of beauty or ugliness or greed behind the face that is talking to me. Somehow, with voices by themselves I am at a loss. Why, sometimes I have looked at faces that uttered the kindest words, but shuddered at the something peeping through the eyes - I have also seen faces that abused and growled, and saw something gentle and kind. I am not referring to any friends here, though!" said Joan.

"Don't you think that we could be imagining things - of course I like to see the face talking to me - but how do we know that the ugliness and beauty are not my own reflection. Somebody said that the world is a mirror. My monk Guru told me that unless the mind is pure, free of greed and lust the truth cannot be seen," said Ram.

"That's called projection in psychology," said Sankar.

"No objection at all," said Domby.

"I think that Ram may be right," said Joan. "Maybe it is my own ugliness and beauty that I see in the other but it is better to have a mirror, if nothing else, with which to see my own face and the self within it. It helps, I think, to know that there is ugliness around, your's or other's, and you can be on your guard; or know beauty is around and encourage it."

"Well, Krishna, why don't you say something? asked Ram.

I got up and we strolled back to our hut in the camp. Quite a few brothers and sisters were walking about, too.

At the hut, we sat around on the floor, had the fan on to keep off the mosquitoes, spread out our supper - munched happily and in silence sipping coffee poured out into mugs.

"Well, don't you want to talk to us?" Sankar looked at me.

"No," I said.

There was pin-drop silence. Everyone looked at me.

"That's letting down," said Sankar.

"Maybe he does not like us; maybe our talk is not important enough," remarked Joan.

"Even if he thinks it is not important to him, it may be important to somebody else. What do you say, Krishna? asked Ram.

"Well", I said, "I like all of you. It is simply that things to be talked about are not coming to me. When they come they do the job!"

"But all of us have been talking. Do you think it is silly!" remonstrated Joan.

"On the contrary," I said, "good listening is coming to me. I am coming to know and grow. Wonderful things are getting talked about, aren't they?"

"Maybe we will question him," said Sankar, "Shall we ask you questions?"

I did not reply - no reply came to me.

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