Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Life and Adventures of Randy Mesmer
THE NAKED HOLY MAN OF UDUPI
In Udupi, Krishna’s city, Randy Mesmer discovered a naked holy man ducking around the Tata buses at the station.
Randy pursued at once, tailed the sky-clad renunciant through the crowd, following his big flat feet, his smooth brown bobbing ass as he strode among the middle-class Indian mamas and their dull polyester-clad mates, all of whom carefully avoided looking at him.
How stunning to be naked out in the world. This must be how it feels, Randy thought, to tell the whole truth for the first time in your life.
Randy followed the naked holy man into the vegetable market, where an old woman offered a fistful of long beans, which the holy man took without saying a word.
The naked holy man walked like he knew where he was going—and with good cause. This was not an ash-smeared old man, nor a fearsome Saivite with bloodshot eyes. The holy man was young, his body lean and supple, and Randy had glimpsed his enormous Cadbury chocolate eyes. Better for him to keep moving: folks were bound to come up with creative uses for doe-eyed buck naked holy man.
Such radiant displays of holiness would elsewhere not be permitted, but this was Udupi, Krishna’s city, where the god at the temple cross-dressed every Friday and required all male devotees to be shirtless in the inner sanctuary. This was a city ruled by a god with a rare sense of delight and appreciation.
Still, what a burden beauty must have been to the holy man, like a chronic backache or an aged mother. Like the Tibetan nuns Randy had seen in the Himalayan foothills, who hurried along with their eyes on the ground. Renouncing all vanity and worldliness, these unlucky women shaved their heads, abandoned paint and ornaments, and wound up drastically more beautiful than they’d been before.
Decay is unstoppable, death too, but blooming also intrudes and insists upon itself.
The holy man turned now to look at his pursuer. Randy in his faded ragged clothes, skinny from six months of dysentery and beans, his face shot through with longing. One of those well-fed foreign children who run away to India to live like beggars and careen about in manic Technicolor delusion, chasing now an elephant, now a swami, now a buck-naked holy boy standing among the marigold garlands and the cabbages.
It is said that a pickpocket in a crowd of saints sees only pockets.
Randy, likewise: here was no pious wizened saint’s prick but a generous fleshy welcoming member of the sort a philandering sensualist might pray to be equipped with.
Desire pinned Randy’s feet to the dusty earth; the holy man turned and fled into the crowd of pilgrims.