By Jenny Fan Raj
“Almose ther mista.” Pradeep hops gracefully into the water and tugs the skiff towards shore. “Thanks mate.” I grin at Samir (why had I said okay when Pradeep had asked to bring his young son? Wanted to say no but then I’d look like the asshole.) Forget it. I lean back and rest my gaze at the beaming moon. I can’t believe the moment is almost here.
Months of seeking. Retreats. Spiritual advisors. Pilgrimages. Gurus. Countless hours of silent meditation, shadowy auras floating above my eyes. The intense joy at finally feeling the slight pressure of an invisible thumb in the center of my forehead. So soft I was afraid I’d imagined it. Transcendence. Almost.
Samir giggles at something in the water. Idiot! Can’t he see I need silence? Center yourself, Brad. Now’s not the time. Nothing will matter after this.
“Samir! Mala’I sahayoga a’una!” Samir nods and splashes into the lake. Grunting, he pushes the boat. We’ve arrived.
Taudaha is not a big lake, but it feels like we’ve traversed half the earth to get here. Lush green weeds strangle the shore. No wonder you need two people to work the boat. The Nepali people are skinny but tough, stringy muscles rippling as they work. I motion with my hand and Samir scrambles forward, grimacing as he gives me a boost. I’ve worked too hard to have my moment ruined by wet feet. He should know that. A stoic people, the Nepalis, but not particularly bright.
There’s something different about the quality of light now. Pradeep points at the moon and Samir gapes up at it. I doubt he understands how lucky he is to be here. A lunar eclipse is rare enough. A total lunar eclipse in Kathmandu, only six months after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi affirmed I was ready? It was meant to be.
“Hurry up. Can’t you see it’s already begun? Leave the boy behind to guard my pack. We need to move faster.”
We cut through the waist-high grass and make our way up the hill, Pradeep leading the way. He had told me there was a flat rock a quarter mile up with a commanding view of the lake and shores beyond. It is there that I’ve chosen to experience the moment. I look up at the moon again, which now sported a small but noticeable bitemark at 3 o’clock. Damn. I don’t want to miss this.
“Mista. Ther.” As if reading my mind, Pradeep parts the grass to reveal a soft gray rock. It’s time. I take off my shoes and gently place them aside. Pradeep discretely walks into the grove to give me privacy. The rock is still warm from the day’s sun. I settle into its center and close my eyes. Wait for transcendence.
Damn! What the fuck.
Samir crashes through the grass, panic white on his face. He dives onto the rock, wet pants and dirty shirt leaving muddy streaks on its pristine surface. His arms are wrapped around his left knee, foot tensed, jutting out. I shudder when I see two fat leeches latched onto his ankle.
I look up. The moon is a black abyss. I pull the boy onto my lap. Samir’s sweat smelled of fear, and love. I dip my head down and breathe.