Everyone who’s here met the guru in either L.A. or London. I find myself fascinated with his accent and his manner of speaking. In the States the more sophisticated the topic of your speech is, the more refined your accent is. That’s just how it is. But when Veddy speaks, there’s a twist–because of course he’s got a heavy Indian accent but there’s also part of a British accent in his English. And sometimes when he is getting deep into a speech about some deeply sophisticated philosophical point, his accent and his grammar both get more and more British-sounding and less Indian. But then he catches himself, and he reverts to almost pidgin English, as if his message is better absorbed as exotic and mystical and deep if he sounds more like a guy who lives in a cave than one who got a degree at Oxford.
It takes a faker to know a faker. Trust me.
I’m not saying he’s not a good guru. I don’t have much point of comparison though. He makes some thought-provoking points about the self and enlightenment. But so do a lot of books, right? There’s a room with shelves of the Indian classics here, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita. None of them are in English. A few are in Spanish but my Spanish is too rusty and weak to read philosophy in it. Isn’t that sad?
My mother didn’t want me speaking Spanish when I was growing up. It was one of the only reasons she ever beat me, because of Spanish coming out of my mouth.
She thought it would hold me back in life if I had an accent.
She also didn’t want me going out in the sun because it would make my skin brown. My father must have been a light-skinned man because she’s right. If I don’t get sun, I’m white.
If I speak English, I’m white.
It’s a little disturbing to think that my mother wished for a white child the way other women wish for a boy or a girl. I think my mother didn’t care what sex I came out but she cared about my color. My older half brothers are both very dark with kinky hair.
She wanted a white child who would get somewhere in society and take care of her.
That’s what I’ve done.
Children know, though. They know if you’re different. They’re trying so hard to put names on things–isn’t that what half those children’s books are about?–they look at you and they know right away you’re not like them. I got those questions all the time as a kid. “Where are you from?” As if I came from some other country. As if only white people ever lived in America? “What are you?” They want a label, black, white, Indian, Japanese–I didn’t have a word to give them. “What are your parents?” I don’t have a father. If I wanted to give an answer and didn’t want to give a huge explanation I would say my mother was Turkish Brazilian. Because at least those were countries people had heard of and then I wasn’t saying she was Spanish-speaking, since I knew she wouldn’t like that. I sometimes said Turkish Portuguese, which was fancier-sounding. Europe was more prestigious than South America, anyway. You learn that shit quick on the playground when respect is in short supply and the bullies are trying to figure out who to target.
My mother doted on me. Spoiled me as rotten as possible. But I will never forget that beating. How vicious her fear was. She was having hysterics, her voice distorted into a high screech. I don’t know who cried more, me or her. After that, I never dared ask her about where we were from or what kind of blood we had.
Which wasn’t to say I didn’t speak Spanish when it suited me, as long as she wasn’t around. When I was in high school and I wanted to blend in with a Puerto Rican gang in New York, I had no problems. Can’t even call it a gang really since it was just the some kids, not like organized crime. More like gang wannabes, I guess. I hung around them because they had the best drugs and the girls all did anal because they were saving their chochas for marriage. I didn’t spend too much time with them, though. Too macho. After I got the ringleader to suck me it was going to end badly and I mean West Side Story badly if anyone found out. Not worth someone getting hurt or dead over. So I disappeared after that. Easy to do. New York is big but people mostly swim in their own little ponds. Jumping to the next pond over is easy.
Veddy knows how to jump ponds. I think he genuinely wants to help people but doesn’t think he can do it by being genuine. Or maybe the genuine Veddy is too hard to believe in. People want to believe he simply crawled out of a cave one day a Jedi Master. They want to believe in Yoda. But no one talks about how Yoda got to be that way. Wasn’t he a hotheaded young apprentice once who had to be schooled and make mistakes and all that? These people aren’t here for that. They’re here to stare at the complexities in their own souls, the selfish fucks, and they don’t want to have to contemplate the complexities of their guru.
So Veddy puts on the pidgin-English cave-dwelling yogi act, they buy it, and everyone’s happy. Even me, since I get to have a feeling of smug superiority over seeing through the whole thing.
I know. Smugness and superiority are two things I’m here to let go of. But how can I when I’m literally the only person here whose shit doesn’t stink?