Fictional Stories

An Indian Piece

Six in the morning and the heat was already rising in waves from the earth. Runnels of sweat ran down the faces of the two passengers swaying to and fro in the rickshaw.  Crows cawed ominously and flew down from the trees, scavenging the streets for carrion. A cow ruminated at the side of the road and looked at them dolefully with its indifferent, watery eyes.  Although together in the one place – man  beast and bird – they retained their separateness, each aware of the other without concern. 

Time passed.  

Being early for the temple, Tom, a tall American, bronzed with the sun, suggested to Kumar, “Let’s have a look at the market.”  This was Kumar’s chance to show Tom around the district as both felt they had  languished too long in the village and welcomed the chance to visit the nearby Keshav Dev temple in Mathura, the legendary birthplace of Krishna. 

For the past six months Tom, a Peace Corp Volunteer, had been spending his time introducing planting techniques in the village  but had discovered very soon after his arrival that the old farmers knew more about the land and the requirements for a high rice yield than he did.  With lassitude, Tom felt relieved to abandon his post at Bhoodari village and travel with Kumar to the city.  

In the market place, rows of stalls were covered in light tarpaulins, plastic sheets, and old sun-faded newspapers.  Some stall owners sat around laconically smoking small bidis and drinking milky sweet chai from glass tumblers.  Only one stall at the edge of the lane appeared to be open, its owner fussing over the array of bric-a-brac with a large, black, feather duster. 

Incongruously, he wore an over-sized suit, a shirt and tie that looked as if it had been bartered  in exchange for goods from his stall at one time.  His face was sharp and weasel-like, small eyes glinting from under heavy, black eyebrows.  An oily layer of hair swept over his brow; and sunken cheeks spoke of poverty he had endured during his twenty-odd years of life.

As they approached, the stallholder brightened and became more animated in his dusting. 

Kumar enquired, “What time does the temple open?”

“Oh, be opening soon, my friend,” the man responded, looking at Tom and ignoring Kumar.  “Would you see some fine jewelry, soapstone sculpture?”

Tom, feeling a little uncomfortable, declared, “We’re just having a look till the temple’s open.”  Turning to Kumar and dismissing the stallholder, Tom asked, “What do you think?  Was Krishna really born here, or is it just myth?”

The stall holder interrupted. “No! No!  here he was born, certainly.  He very good god.  He loving by all milkmaids in Mathura then steal their cloths when bathing.  Now look!” he insisted, “Silver frame.   Good quality?  Very good quality. No?  Very nice.  Have look and see!  Just looking!  Go on!”  His eyes pleaded, “You my first customer.  Please to be buying.  I have little children.  I lucky you buy.  Very cheap price…for you…today my first customer.”

Tom, by this time, was beginning to back off while Kumar stood nonchalant and amused with his hands in his pockets.  “Really, we don’t want anything.  Just having a look,” Tom explained.  But a tone of guilt was beginning to sound in his voice and the stallholder, skilful in detecting any subtle evidence of reticence in a prospective customer’s voice, lunged for the prey. 

“You must buy.  Special price.  Just for you.  Look!  Look!  Photo of Krishna.  Here his peacock feather…very beautiful…you buy for present…take home.” 

The sales pitch was becoming more and more frenetic as he noticed Tom beginning to sidle away.  Bangles, bells, photos. garlands and incense were thrust before Tom and in desperation he turned to Kumar.  “Guess this is a place of peace.  How do I tell him to go in peace?”

“What?”  Kumar’s bemusement increased.

“You know, go in peace.  I just want to get to the temple and get out of here.”   Tom had the uncomfortable feeling of being trapped and it was becoming more and more tangible, evident in the frantic look on the stallholder’s face.

Turning to Tom, Kumar replied,  “Pisab gorkyo”

Tom practised this a few times under his breath, turned to the stallholder and said a little shakily, “Pisab gorkyo.”

“Uh!”  the stallholder exclaimed, jaw dropping.

“Eh, pisab gorkyo,” Tom intoned more loudly.

A flurry of invective poured from the stallholder and, although Tom didn’t know the language, he could guess that there was something in the torrent of words about is personal life.  “What did he say?” asked Tom.

Kumar replied, “Some local language.  I guess something about your sister and your mother.

“Why’s he getting so angry?  C’mon, let’s go.”  As the flood of words continued, Tom was pulling on Kumar’s arm to get away.

Kumar, laughing, let himself be led away and said to Tom, “Why did you tell him to go and piss?”

“Piss!”   Tom’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.  “I told him to go and piss, not in peace?”

As they made their way across the road towards the temple, their laughter was joined by the sound of several crows, cawing in unison from the wires above the stall.  The stallholder looked angrily at them, picked up a stone and threw it, but the crows fluttered their wings, rose a few feet in the air and landed once again on the wire, cawing and screeching more loudly that ever.  The cows slowly raised and turned their heads to watch the pair cross the road and disappear through the gate and into the temple across the way.

Harriet Tubman

A story of overcoming fear in your workplace, and in your heart. Excerpted from Jaiya John’s new book of healing, Your Caring Heart: Renewal for Helping Professionals and Systems. Online where books are sold.

 Harriet Tubman was a baaad woman. She didn’t play. One story I appreciate telling about her (creatively adapted, of course) is a story of leadership. So, the story goes that Harriet and her people had been discussing for some time the idea of breaking away from their plantation and finding freedom. Now, freedom can be a very frightening idea to a slave. Sure enough, as the designated night approached in which the group would escape the plantation, the people began to voice their concerns. Their fears.

Many of these people were menfolk, and Harriet being a woman, was used to the challenges of being a female leader. Folks started in with fear talk: “Now, Harriet, this freedom thing of yours sounds great in theory, but I don’t know if it is realistic. Look at our life. We have so much to deal with. So many bad things could go wrong. I don’t know if we have time for this freedom thing. I need to get back to my work or Massa gon’ whup me good. I can’t afford to lose my job. How much work is this freedom thing going to require?”

Does this litany of fear talk sound familiar to you? If so, it is because, bless us all, the slave is alive and well in our society and work. It is a spirit of self-oppression that burrows deep into people and groups, rendering their idea of reality as one of impending doom.

 

Harriet listened respectfully to her people. But Harriet knew fear. It was in the nature of being a slave. In fact, her people harvested fear more than they harvested cotton or other crops. It was fear that they brought home to their slave quarters. Fear that they ate together for dinner. Beds of fear that they slept on. Dreams of fear in the night. Fear was their sunrise, their clothing, their daily industry. So, Harriet, she knew fear. And she would not let it get in the way of freedom. On a night absent of moonlight, Harriet gathered her people down by the riverbank. The murmuring water would be their chaplain for this freedom service. The people were now terrified. They risked death, dismemberment, whippings, dogs tearing at their flesh. They risked disappointing their overseers and their masters. They risked losing their precious jobs as house slaves, for few wanted the backbreaking life of a field slave. They risked being sold. This entire river of fears was now pushing up their throats, coming out as angry resistance to freedom.

 

Harriet wasn’t sweet. She was fire. A woman, slave, nurse, social worker, leader, healer in those times had to be fire. She used hers. Lifting her sawed-off shotgun, she pointed it directly at the men challenging her leadership. Harriet said these words: “I understand, my people, the ferocity of your fears. But we have been slaves far too long. We have lost the taste for freedom. But here, under cover of this black night, I’m fixin’ to make an executive decision. Those who choose to stay in this life of suffering may do so. Otherwise, whoever wants to have freedom sing in their bones and dreams tonight, follow me. Tonight, my people, we fixin’ to be free.”

 

In every group of human beings who care deeply to do this healing work, in the right way and spirit, there must be those, of any title, willing to walk the group through their long night of fear into the astounding daybreak of freedom. There is no other way than directly through our fear. We should do this now, good souls, before we further lose the taste of freedom.

 

INSPIRATION

“But what is self Love?” she asked.

And Love answered:

“When your sacredness becomes your deepest song.”

BOOK DONATIONS

Soul Water Rising and Jaiya John believe deeply in the power of books, words, language, reading, and literacy — to heal, empower, and transform not only children and adults, but humanity itself. We are on a global word mission, donating books as seeds wherever we can! Recent donation recipients of Jaiya John books include Alameda County DCFS, LA County DCFS, Pomona, Keith Hosea’s Telios Training Solutions, Terrance Stone’s Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy, the Inland Empire Father Involvement Coalition, Daniel Kids Foundation, San Mateo County Independent Living Program, Family and Children Services of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Restorative Justice Conference of Colorado. Please help reforest humanity. Plant a book in someone’s life.
http://jaiyajohn.com/homepage.html

HARRIET TUBMAN

 A story of overcoming fear in your workplace, and in your heart. Excerpted from Jaiya John’s new book of healing, Your Caring Heart: Renewal for Helping Professionals and Systems. Online where books are sold.

Harriet Tubman was a baaad woman. She didn’t play. One story I appreciate telling about her (creatively adapted, of course) is a story of leadership. So, the story goes that Harriet and her people had been discussing for some time the idea of breaking away from their plantation and finding freedom. Now, freedom can be a very frightening idea to a slave. Sure enough, as the designated night approached in which the group would escape the plantation, the people began to voice their concerns. Their fears.

Many of these people were menfolk, and Harriet being a woman, was used to the challenges of being a female leader. Folks started in with fear talk: “Now, Harriet, this freedom thing of yours sounds great in theory, but I don’t know if it is realistic. Look at our life. We have so much to deal with. So many bad things could go wrong. I don’t know if we have time for this freedom thing. I need to get back to my work or Massa gon’ whup me good. I can’t afford to lose my job. How much work is this freedom thing going to require?”

Does this litany of fear talk sound familiar to you? If so, it is because, bless us all, the slave is alive and well in our society and work. It is a spirit of self-oppression that burrows deep into people and groups, rendering their idea of reality as one of impending doom.

 Harriet listened respectfully to her people. But Harriet knew fear. It was in the nature of being a slave. In fact, her people harvested fear more than they harvested cotton or other crops. It was fear that they brought home to their slave quarters. Fear that they ate together for dinner. Beds of fear that they slept on. Dreams of fear in the night. Fear was their sunrise, their clothing, their daily industry. So, Harriet, she knew fear. And she would not let it get in the way of freedom. On a night absent of moonlight, Harriet gathered her people down by the riverbank. The murmuring water would be their chaplain for this freedom service. The people were now terrified. They risked death, dismemberment, whippings, dogs tearing at their flesh. They risked disappointing their overseers and their masters. They risked losing their precious jobs as house slaves, for few wanted the backbreaking life of a field slave. They risked being sold. This entire river of fears was now pushing up their throats, coming out as angry resistance to freedom.

 Harriet wasn’t sweet. She was fire. A woman, slave, nurse, social worker, leader, healer in those times had to be fire. She used hers. Lifting her sawed-off shotgun, she pointed it directly at the men challenging her leadership. Harriet said these words: “I understand, my people, the ferocity of your fears. But we have been slaves far too long. We have lost the taste for freedom. But here, under cover of this black night, I’m fixin’ to make an executive decision. Those who choose to stay in this life of suffering may do so. Otherwise, whoever wants to have freedom sing in their bones and dreams tonight, follow me. Tonight, my people, we fixin’ to be free.”

 In every group of human beings who care deeply to do this healing work, in the right way and spirit, there must be those, of any title, willing to walk the group through their long night of fear into the astounding daybreak of freedom. There is no other way than directly through our fear. We should do this now, good souls, before we further lose the taste of freedom.

 

INSPIRATION

“But what is self Love?” she asked.

And Love answered:

“When your sacredness becomes your deepest song.”

Dr. Jaiya John has served organizations, agencies, schools, and initiatives globally for many years. He is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant, book author, poet, spoken word artist, and youth mentor. Jaiya is the founder of Soul Water Rising, a global human mission that has donated thousands of Jaiya’s books in support of social healing, and offers scholarships to displaced and vulnerable youth. He is a former professor of social psychology at Howard University, has authored numerous books, and has addressed over half a million professionals, parents, and youth worldwide. Jaiya is a National Science Foundation fellow, and holds a doctorate degree in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, he attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and studied Tibetan Holistic Medicine through independent research with Tibetan doctors in Nepal.

Soul Water Rising  |  jaiya@soulwater.org  |  soulwater.org

She Wanted Peace…

 

GIRL

She wanted Peace.  So she played beautiful music, painted beautiful expressions.  It was not enough.  She went on long walks.  Gave away possessions.  Smiled more.  Stopped multitasking.  Not enough.  She bought more reverent clothing.  Read spiritual books.  Spoke spiritual words.  Not enough.  She changed her relationships.  Attended classes.  Cut her hair.  Improved her diet.  Attended worship.  Found a new job.  Travelled.  Came back.  All of it, not enough.

Then, one day, she looked inside herself, the place she had run from all her life.  She found two Truths: the concentrated ego of suffering and fear, and the simmering ember of Peace.  Realizing that Peace was a seed already inside her, she decided to try something new.  She decided to Love more.  Herself.  Others.  All things.  In every moment.  She opened.  The ocean inside came out.  The ocean outside came in.  She dissolved in two oceans.  Became immeasurable Lightness.  She found Peace.

Love is the sunlight that awakens the seed of Peace.

jaiya

jaiya@soulwater.org

SOULWATER.ORG

 

A SLICE OF SAMSARA

samsara

 

He realized with a start that he was staring at people. “Mustn’t do that” he told himself “…people might think you are strange”.  Sitting in the café in the corner, his favourite place where he felt (erroneously) that he could see but not be seen, he drew his eyes down to his flat white, took a sip and for a brief moment was able to be in the present, to relish the smooth texture  and the sharp taste of the coffee balanced by the creamy milk.

 

But that was just for a moment … then the thoughts began again and hijacked his mind. They started with a hollow feeling in his gut then surged upwards. He found himself staring at a young woman with shiny hair who was absorbed in what she was typing on her laptop. She looked strong and healthy. John immediately knew that he was admiring these qualities in her because he felt bereft of them.  For the past three months John had been feeling weak, low in energy, having to drag himself to work, force himself to concentrate then make his way home, collapsing onto the sofa as soon as he closed the front door.

 

The young woman glanced at him then looked at her screen, frowning slightly. John thought it must be because she found him intrusive although she could just be thinking about her work.
How John wished he had the concentration she appeared to have, probably enjoying her task whatever it was and not endlessly distracted by worries.

 

He had phoned the doctor at 9am to get the results of the blood test but the receptionist said he should phone back later after 11am when the doctor would have had a chance to look at her mail. John found this delay intolerable. He quickly decided to go out, to sit in the café and read, rather than watch the clock at home.

 

He glanced at his watch now; 10.13am. He tried to read his book but his mind wouldn’t settle on the words. He found he was reading without taking in the meaning, rapidly scanning sentences, whole paragraphs, and turning the page with no idea of what he had read. His mind felt shaky and unstable as did his stomach.

 

He knew he wasn’t well and as soon as this entered his mind it was followed by “what if…” thoughts.  “What if it’s cancer” led the assailing army.

 

Two young men walked in and sat at the table closest to John. One of them looked younger and spoke nervously saying “I don’t know where to begin”. The older, taller one was more confident and spoke in a deeper voice. John stared at the open pages of his book as if reading. He listened intently to their conversation but couldn’t catch every word. The younger one seemed to be responding to the other’s questions, giving an account of his work, apologizing for something being all his fault. John immediately liked him, felt empathy for his predicament yet also superior to him because John was known to be very competent at work. “Until now…” John thought, and his mind flooded with a torrent of fears of long-term sick leave, redundancy and of course  …death.

 

The older man had a self-controlled rather cold manner. John hated him. 10.25 now, nearly time to leave, to walk home, to phone the doctor again. As John was gathering his thoughts about leaving a middle-aged woman sat down opposite him. She smiled and said, “Hope you don’t mind me sitting here but there’s nowhere else”. John mumbled assent but felt invaded. She seemed so self-assured and certainly didn’t have any obvious health problems although she was much older than John. “She is  probably obsessed with her body and goes to the gym every night” thought John, eyeing secretively her muscular sun-tanned bare arms.  She was making him feel much worse, acutely aware of his own failing health and lack of energy. He got up quickly and left.

 

At 11 am John sat at his kitchen table (better to be sitting down, he thought, in case it’s bad news) and dialed the doctor’s ‘phone number.  The receptionist answered and John asked to be put through to the doctor, emphasizing the urgency of his call. The receptionist said there was no need for that, the doctor had said to tell him that he is fine, just very anaemic, and he needs to take iron tablets, available over the counter in the pharmacy. She tolerated his insistent questions – “are you sure?”, “does the test show anything else?” and “could I discuss this with the doctor please?” – then said they were very busy this morning and he really doesn’t have anything to worry about, he is fine, just anaemic.

 

John leaned back in his chair and went over the events of the morning in his mind. He thought how if he saw the girl with the shiny hair in the cafe again he might buy her a coffee. He pictured the two young men, identifying himself with the older one, more cool and competent like himself. He also decided to join a gym and get really fit.

 

Lynda

  Lynda has been a student of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche for the past five years and has been interested in meditation, yoga and Buddhism for  much      longer than this. She is a child and adolescent psychotherapist and works at the Tavistock Clinic in North London as both clinician  and teacher. Due  to a serious back injury, now healing, she has been unable to work this year until very recently and in this time she has  developed a passion for  creative writing. This is her first short story entitled A Slice of Samsara.

 

THE PILOT AND THE PRIEST

gates of heaven

 

 

The Pilot and the Priest

 

A priest dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him is a guy who’s dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket,
and jeans.

Saint Peter addresses this cool guy, ‘Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?’

The guy replies, ‘I’m Jack, retired airline pilot from Houston.’

Saint Peter consults his list. He smiles and says to the pilot, ‘Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom.’ The pilot goes into Heaven with his robe and staff.

Next, it’s the priest’s turn. He stands erect and booms out, ‘I am Father Bob, pastor of Saint Mary’s for the last 43 years.’

Saint Peter consults his list. He says to the priest, ‘Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom.

‘Just a minute,’ says the good father. ‘That man was a pilot and he gets a silken robe and golden staff and I get only cotton and wood. How can this be?

‘Up here – we go by results,’ says Saint Peter. ‘When you preached – people slept. When he flew, people prayed.’