“Water not only moves around a rock, it actually moves through it,”
—Larry Fleinhardt in Numb3rs
An eccentric genius, Larry is a physics professor who cannot get his ‘self’ together. In certain aspects of his life he is highly organized and anal retentive as, for instance, in his food habits, he eats only monochromatic foods. But, Larry has his anarchic side as well; he sells his house and, now, beds down wherever he feels unthreatened. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0888290/ The episode opens with Larry scurrying out of a steam tunnel, bedding in hand, watched surreptitiously by a Senior Professor. Although he has been offered a space in Charlie’s garage, he moves out after a few nights, preferring the tunnels. Larry’s is a more borderline personality than Charlie Epps, the math genius who, though he may have commitment problems, lives in his own house albeit with his dad. Watching the show at night, having had a few pegs of ‘Honeybee’, that wonderful Goan brandy, I sense Larry in myself.
So far the day has been a leaky bucket, my resolve to write, my good humor, have both dripped out through the hours. An all too familiar mood of futility and desperation flows in instead. I hear my own voice, shrill, high, and loud, berating the service people who delay the car’s return until the afternoon. The heat today is like an unwanted blanket, it presses down and renders me numb and nerveless. Aware that the world is at odds with me, I don’t want to move.
Sure enough, my voice hits the heavy air again like a harpy’s. I shout at Francisca, the housekeeper, who forgets to bring the sticky tape I need to mend a carton. And, I am constantly on the phone to the service people who whine,
“we are bringing the car, just now, bringing the car ma’am.”
They have now been bringing the car for four days.
“Brake pads are worn down, ma’am, we don’t have a driver, ma’am, the car is in the body shop, ma’am.”
Sung in inimitable Indian cadence, the refrain drums through my head. The customer will never be God here, s/he has to grateful for any favors done.
My harangue, in response to their ditty, removes me to another time and place–the ashram of two years ago when its founder died. The note of hysteria that inflects my voice summons up those days: Swami dead, people, pilgrims, gawkers, and thieves bound together in the sweat of mass emotion. Me, in my tiny flat, I cower amid the thick of things, hidden behind my walls but I witness all. I don’t venture outside, but my room rides the gusts of hysteria and hypocrisy. My apartment is a ship, battered by a cyclone of mourning.
I lock myself forcibly inside, and attempt to eat myself into immobility. My legs lock up. They ache because they have nowhere to walk. [FYI:news video Devotees mourn death] Today, two years later, the legacy of locking myself in for eight months endures, physically and mentally. I write to release myself from that immuration within doors. Physically, I am free, I have the means to move where I please–to be in Goa, to meet folks, to walk on the beach. But every so often I feel the weight of those mental shackles. I allow myself more latitude now but grief still bears down on my mind. I will not move out of this room in Sunlife Residency today, although my voice beats at different doors.
Scrunched over my little MacBook, I hear a scooter start up, and Shalini, my neighbor goes by with her year old son balanced in front of her. She looks up and waves, plump, with shoulder length black hair, large dark eyes that crease up when she smiles. Her round face, as well, creases into goodwill. In her black skirt and printed blouse, she looks the perfect mum.
“You must have heard me screaming,” I tell her, “horrible day, guess how much the service cost? Thirteen thousand rupees.”
“Ooh,oh, my Gawd!” she exclaims.
“Fuck them. Ba-a-ad day.”
“Yes”, she agrees.
I’ve been bled dry.
- Don’t Call Me Ma’am (teenmombloggers.com)
- Don’t Call Me Ma’am (empoweredresults.org)
- Ma’am vs. Miss (thatquietgirlyousortofknow.wordpress.com)