The radio said there would be a storm. After all the long, hot days, I thought, I could use a storm.
There wasn’t much to do at home. In the kitchen, the potatoes were sprouting. One would think they were dead balls of vegetable, brown and waiting to be pieced and eaten. You leave them alone for long enough, they send out shoots and try to grow back into plants.
I was going down the west corridor when I saw that there was a curious picture on the wall.
A lady was sitting on a rock. It looked like she was deep in meditation. It seemed to be a hilltop somewhere. In the background was a faded horizon.
Beneath the picture, there was a caption – “Aham Brahmasi.”
I stopped and thought for some time. The lady looked familiar. Where had I seen her before? The hill looked familiar too.
Down in the library I could find the albums in the archives. If I had seen her before, there would be a record in there.
I took the picture off the wall and carried it down with me, down to the library.
* * *
When the storm came, I had found out who she was.
Her name was Elizabeth Rime. Five years back, she had won the title at the IFBB WOS Ms. Olympia. She was a professional bodybuilder.
Well, she used to be.
Elizabeth was a remarkable thing from when she was at school. Back then she was the captain of the cheerleading squad. Afterwards she completed her Masters in Nutrition Science, and moved to bodybuilding. She was famous within a few years.
She won championships, appeared in photo-shoots, gave interviews to magazines and video channels on YouTube. She was living the celebrity life. Then one day, she changed tracks and quit it all.
Now, the records told me, she was a yoga trainer and lifestyle counselor, offering her help and services to other professionals in the arena of fitness and bodybuilding.
Raindrops splattered on the glass panes of my window. The sky outside was wet, grey. It looked like it was going to be a long rain.
I took another look at the caption under the picture, typing – “So are you reading the Upanishads?” And then I hit ‘send.’
* * *
The reply came next day.
It was from Elizabeth Rime all right. I thought as I sipped the chocolate milk in the cup – this is not what I was planning to do this week at all.
She had replied saying that no, she was not reading the Upanishads. But she would surely love to. She was feeling this connection to India, she wrote, and she wished to come to India sometime soon, and maybe spend a month at an ashram, take a yoga course, something like that. And sure, she had plans to read Indian books too, the Gita, the Mahabharata, and of course, also the Upanishads.
I wrote, – Indian culture is pretty complex and confusing. Same with the books, – there are too many versions to choose from. I have some experience about these. Would you want me to help you?
She replied – Yes.
* * *
I asked her to give me her address. The lockdown was going to continue for many more days. Letters would be the way to go.
Then, I pulled out my pad and started to write.