Friday, May 08, 2015


from Small Stories from My Enormously Spiritual Life

Today’s pilgrimage, by auto-rickshaw: a circuit of the 8 holy lingams that surround the holy hill in the company of a professorial gentleman with whom I last evening had remarkably bad sex.  By chance, the lingam is a perfect metaphor for the way the man kissed: his tongue thrust out, hard and immobile from the center of his mouth, like a post.  He stank of onions.  The pic he’d sent in advance of our meeting was not from this century.  In what I resentfully perceive to be the intimate style of rich men, he just lay there immobile with his unwashed hard-on and seemed to think he was doing me a tremendous favor.

Thank god I used to be a whore, I thought.  At least I know how to get through this.  How often has my unwillingness to hurt anyone’s feelings led to actions that were grotesque?  He, too, was conspicuously underwhelmed.  “Your body is basically good,” he said.

Then this morning we had to go and be holy together.  It had all been pre-arranged.  On our holy tour, he maintained an instructional tone, describing each of the lingams in turn.  I admit that lingams have always seemed pretty much the same to me -- there are little ones and then there are big ones -- but it turns out the meaning of each can be entirely different, and especially if they are part of a circuit.  There is one lingam for the sun, one for the air, the stars, the bowels of the earth.  One lingam cures stomach ailments, another prevents childlessness. Others brings fortune, or status, or peace of mind.

As well as detailing the lingams, the rich man revealed his opinion that pradakshina, or circumambulation, was in fact an a prehistoric fitness strategy and that the use of narrow tunnels inspired ancient people to stay slim.  Even as we rode together in the back of the rickshaw, we took care that our knees never touched.  The whole time I felt haunted.  All my life I have loved older men, but now I fear they are too old.

Some people can’t stop washing their hands.  I can’t stop saying thank you, thank you, thank you.  “No need to thank,” the gentleman said.  “It was written on your destiny that today you would do pradakshina.  I am only the tool.”  As if to say that, no, he would never have chosen this trip either. 

On the other hand, I had good reason to be grateful.  I would never have found Indra lingam, buried in the city center.  Esanya lingam, last on the circuit, I had also somehow always missed.  This lingam is in the cemetery and to reach it you must climb down into the Earth.  The man said it symbolized the difficulties attendant to aging and death. 

Among all the lingams, Shiva’s trident is seen only here.  The gentleman made sure I saw the trident, tucked off to the side.  The first time he pointed to it, I pretended I saw, but he kept pointing, again and again, until I saw it for real.

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