If we could live in the consecrated spaces of happiness and forget the past, how easily the world would transform.
Chapter 25: Vibes
The rain was bucketing down and the wind was gusting fiercely and unpredictably. Never one to give up on her walks, Amira set off down the hill to town. After a few minutes, she abandoned her umbrella, pulled her hood over her head, and sped up her pace. By the time she got to the yoga studio, she was as wet as the day.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes after almost two years,” said Sri. He laughed and handed her a towel. “I’ll hug you when you are dry.” Sri wasn’t his birth name. Amira didn’t know his birth name but his full Sanskrit name was Sri Farook Roshan. Sri is a term of respect. Farook means moral. Roshan means shining light. As Waldmeerians didn’t understand that Sri was a title of esteem within the yoga community, they assumed it was his first name and started calling him that. Besides, it was the easiest of the three names to remember.
Sri set up the studio, Vibes, with his partner, Gloria, around the same time that the Hattery opened. It was Waldmeer’s introduction to yoga. In the same way that Amira had welcomed Oswald and Billy, she embraced Sri and Gloria; the more so because they were exponents of the spiritual path. Although Amira was delighted to have them in town, the townsfolk, on the whole, were suspicious of them with their Vedic philosophy, Sanskrit chanting, motivational banners, and loud whale-calling music. Amira’s first contact with the couple was by email.
My partner and I are thrilled to receive your welcoming letter. Sri and I came together through yoga ten years ago and have grown ever since as a couple and as professional yoga teachers. We both fell in love with Waldmeer when we were here on holiday and dreamed that one day we would bring yoga to Waldmeer. Finally, our dream has come true. It’s wonderful to know that you are here too doing your healing work. We are on the same wavelength. We would both love to have you in our classes. It will be nice to have someone who doesn’t think we are a cult!
Love and light, Sri and Gloria
Sri was charming, confident, and outgoing. He soon won over many of the town’s residents. He would go to all the hangouts of the middle-aged Waldmeer women – the cafes, parks, church halls, bowling and golf clubs – and wooed his way into their hearts as he hugged and complimented them. He was middle-aged, himself, but after thirty years of yoga, he was a picture of health. His vibrant, young attitude, also, took years off him. The attendance at his classes rapidly grew. Once won over, the wives and mothers of Waldmeer were a force to be reckoned with. They protected Sri from the naysayers. In return, he loved them and changed their bodies and outlook.
Gloria, also, taught classes. She was the backbone of the studio in terms of its day-to-day functioning. Her knowledge of yoga was just as good as Sri’s and, after a while, the students started to appreciate her teaching, in its own right, even if it didn’t have the flair of her more charismatic partner. Sri’s most loyal devotee was Gloria. Sometimes, Amira wondered why Sri was with Gloria. He could have done “better”. He had many opportunities. Amira felt that he, probably, took up some of those opportunities but he would have been careful. It would have been women who were ethical enough not to hurt Gloria but not ethical enough to say no to him.
Occasionally, Sri would say that he and Gloria were like brother and sister. He would say it even when Gloria was in the room. It was meant to sound like a compliment but a partner is not a sibling. Gloria would tense up when he said it but, like everything else he did that bothered her, she smiled and said, “We are blessed.”
Something was keeping them together. Once, Amira overheard a private conversation between Gloria and Sri. “You have to stop being so hard on yourself,” said Sri. “All day long, you say such mean things to yourself. Why do you do that? There is no need. You are beautiful.” Amira looked at Gloria and, for a moment, she truly looked beautiful. The insecurity was gone and replaced with a content, intelligent calmness.
Although Amira wanted it to work at the studio, she didn’t end up staying long. After Gloria’s first letter, Amira never felt the same warmth from her again. Instead of making a friend of Amira or, at least, a spiritual and professional peer, Gloria tried to assert her superiority over Amira. She would help and adjust every other class member, but never Amira. She would ask all the members to demonstrate asanas, but never Amira. She would ask the thoughts of her students but would “accidentally” skip Amira if she was going around the circle of students. Amira persevered in the hope of helping Gloria realise that they were on the same team. The day that Amira saw outright hatred on Gloria’s face was the day she left Gloria’s classes.
Amira had, also, been attending Sri’s classes and that was, probably, exacerbating her problem with Gloria. Sri liked Amira immediately and didn’t hide it. Sri liked most people, especially, women and they were his willing fans. Amira did not think like that. She doubted it would even be possible for her to view another person like that, let alone someone who used his sexuality to build a fan base. Amira liked Sri – there was much to like and he was a fellow student of the path – but, even if he was single, she was not interested in him personally. He was a player. Amira didn’t play. And, if she did, it would have been for keeps.
Although Gloria never adjusted Amira in her classes, Sri adjusted her every opportunity he got. He was very hands-on in his adjustments. One particular day, he held Amira so close that she could not only feel both his hips but what was between his hips as well. As it was in front of the whole class, Amira was taken aback but felt she couldn’t do much about it. Sri felt Amira’s body tense and he moved away. He never forced his way onto women. He seduced them. That was the last time Amira went to Sri’s classes.
It was now two years on and Amira thought that she would give Vibes another try. As Gabriel was away and, maybe, permanently away for all Amira knew, she was trying to do a few new things so that she would not be thinking about him too much. Apparently, Sri and Gloria had had a baby who would be about the same age as Lan-Lan. Babies change people. Life changes people. It was time to try again.
Chapter 26: Love and Light
Amira, often, took Lan-Lan to the park in the morning. It was on the grass reserve between the sea and the shops. Lan-Lan would have a swing and play in the sandpit. He was easy to look after as he couldn’t go far by his own steam. Amira would look out over the blue expanse. It was an enjoyable outing for both. This morning, there was a similar-aged child already in the baby swing.
“Never mind, Lan-Lan,” said Amira. “We will wait.” Lan-Lan smiled in his normal, complacent manner. Amira kissed his chubby cheek. It was so squishy and he was so very kissable.
“Now, that’s a loved-up child,” said the Dad at the swing as he turned around. It was Sri. “Is there something I don’t know about?” asked Sri as he pointed to Lan-Lan.
“No,” laughed Amira. “He’s my friend’s baby.”
Sri picked up his own baby and said to Lan-Lan, “Here you go, young man. We have to go.” He waved good-bye and said loud enough for anyone nearby to hear, “Remember to spread the peace-vibes, Amira. We are the love and light of the world.”
When Sri was out of earshot, another voice behind Amira said, “He’s a bit of a w**ker, isn’t he?”
Lan-Lan reached in the direction of the voice. It was Farkas. Father and son were very happy to see each other again. Amira didn’t want to interrupt their special reuniting so she waited until Farkas was free to talk and Lan-Lan was preoccupied with a stick on the ground.
“Who was that?” asked Farkas. “I’m hoping not your new boyfriend.”
“No,” smiled Amira. “He and his partner own the yoga studio.”
“So how is your old boyfriend then?” asked Farkas.
“Gabriel is fine,” said Amira, “I think. I’m not really sure because he’s been staying in Darnall.”
“With the Boys of Darnall?” asked Farkas. “Has he changed his mind… again?”
“I don’t know,” said Amira.
“Is he with any of them?” asked Farkas.
“I don’t think so,” said Amira. “If he thinks we are still together, he wouldn’t be.” Farkas nodded. “Anyway, I don’t think it’s about that,” continued Amira. “I mean, is sex really that important to base a whole major life decision on?”
“Of course, it is,” said Farkas.
“For someone who gets lots of offers that don’t get taken up,” said Amira, “you seem pretty sure about that.”
Farkas smiled and then said more seriously, “I think he’s scared.”
“Of what?” asked Amira.
“A relationship where he has to tell the truth,” said Farkas. He bent down to pick up a piece of rubbish that Lan-Lan had uncovered in the sand pit. “I’ll take that, my boy. Maybe, it’s because you ask too much.”
“Too much of what?” asked Amira.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Farkas, “but it’s too much.”
“What I ask is for the good of the other person,” said Amira.
“In your mind, it is,” said Farkas, “but not necessarily in the other person’s.”
Amira watched the white cockatoos surround an unsuspecting tourist who had hot chips. They were getting closer and closer. The visitor panicked and threw his chips in the air and ran away. A mass of squawking birds dived and then it was all over. “Oh dear, they’re such bullies,” said Amira. “I went to Gabriel’s 40th in the Darnall nightclub last week.”
Farkas laughed, “I can imagine how well that went. Why did you go?”
“Yes, it was a disaster,” said Amira. “I suppose, in retrospect, it’s funny but I can assure you that it wasn’t funny at the time.” Somehow, the memory of it seemed a little lighter for someone else laughing at it.
The whole time Amira had been talking with Farkas, he had been playing with Lan-Lan. “This is the first morning I’ve been out of the Leleks,” said Farkas. “I’m working on Erdo’s farm and he asked me to come into Waldmeer to do some errands.”
“I didn’t know Erdo had a farm,” said Amira. How peculiar that Erdo never mentioned it, thought Amira.
“I have to go now,” said Farkas handing Lan-Lan to Amira.
“Ide misses you,” said Amira.
“Maybe,” said Farkas. “I didn’t sleep with Elise even though Ide probably thinks that I did.”
“I know you didn’t,” said Amira.
“Tell Ide,” said Farkas, “that I think about her and Lan Lan every day.” Actually, he thought about them many times each day but that was close enough.
Amira nodded and said good-bye cheerfully so as to not upset Lan-Lan with sad goodbyes. At that moment, a lady was crossing the road from the shops and called out to Farkas repeatedly. “Farkas, it’s me.” She was waving at him madly.
“It’s the lady from the Opportunity Shop,” whispered Farkas.
“Hello, Amelia,” said Farkas. “How are you?”
“You remember my name,” said Amelia.
“Of course,” said Farkas. “Amelia, this is my friend, Amira, and my son, Lan-Lan.”
Amelia ignored Amira and pinched Lan-Lan’s cheek. “Oh, you are as handsome as your father,” said Amelia. Turning to Farkas, she said, “The ladies and I would love you to join our tennis group. Can you come next week?”
Amira couldn’t help smiling and looked at Farkas as if to say, Well?
“I’m very busy with work at the moment,” said Farkas. “In fact, I’m already late. Bye ladies.”
Amelia didn’t bother to say goodbye to Amira. She simply walked off.
“Come on, Lan-Lan,” said Amira. “It’s a beautiful day and we have every reason to be happy.”
Chapter 27: Right or Wrong
That afternoon, when Ide was picking up Lan-Lan, she got a message. “Oh, it’s Farkas,” said Ide to Amira.
“I’m thinking of coming home for the weekend,” wrote Farkas, “and then returning to work for the week. Okay?”
Ide stared at the message and then at Amira. Turning to Lan-Lan, who was leaping out of Amira’s arms to get to his mother, Ide said, “Daddies back.”
The following morning, Amira was weeding in the garden. It was an exquisite morning. Everything was bewitching – the sky, the sea at the bottom of the hill, the forest behind her, the garden with its joyous, little microcosm of activity and togetherness. It was all casting a spell. What a glad and fortunate spell it is, thought Amira. If we could live in the consecrated spaces of happiness and forget the past, how easily the world would transform. When she went back into the house, she noticed a missed call from Gabriel.
“Did you ring me, Gabriel?” asked Amira when she called back.
“Um, did I ring?” said Gabriel in a distracted manner.
“Yes, did you ring me?” repeated Amira.
“Oh, yes. Yes, I did,” said Gabriel gathering his thoughts. “Can you do me a favour?” Amira didn’t say anything and waited for Gabriel to continue. “The psychology department at the College is running a program with the Dementia Unit of the local hospital.”
“Yes,” said Amira wondering what this was going to have to do with her.
“One of the activities is a ballroom dancing class. They feel that the dancing and music from the patients’ era will help to stimulate their memory.”
“Gabriel, we only did one year of dance classes in Eraldus,” said Amira seeing where this was going.
“They’re desperate,” said Gabriel. “The person they had lined up, can’t do it. It’s just for tonight. Then they’ll be able to find someone more qualified.”
Amira hesitated but said, “Okay. Why not? It’ll be fun and they won’t be able to remember if we are right or wrong.”
“See you tonight,” said Gabriel. “7.30 at the hospital. Gotta run. Bye.”
“Bye,” said Amira but Gabriel was gone.