A Costly Session
I had never seen my friend Mona so excited.
All that customary languor was gone, replaced by a glittering eye. “Darling,
you’ve got to come and see, it’s the best thing that could have happened to
“But,” I asked, for the nth time, “what is it, Mona?”
she beckoned, already halfway through the door, and long years of experience had
taught me that with Mona, it was better to just go with the flow.
The car stopped at a nondescript building
and we entered a hall filled to capacity. A hushed silence hung over the room
till a slim man with wispy blond hair went up on stage to a hearty applause.
“I am here to help you get your lives in
order,” the man boomed in a surprising baritone. ”If you believe your life is
worthy, I’ll prove it is not. If you believe your life is worthless, I’ll show you its true worth.” A quick look around showed me that I was the only one who
hadn’t understood the profundity of Vermilion Shirt’s statement. Abashed, I
slumped lower in my chair.
“Now go on, tell me all,” Vermilion
encouraged, and the floodgates opened. Just about everyone in the hall had a
question to ask. The questions ran the gamut from the sublime to the
ridiculous, most of it the latter to my unevolved ears. Vermilion, it would
seem, was a combination of father confessor/ guide/ philosopher/ mentor and
agony aunt. No query got a direct answer (but then I did tell you my ears were
untrained and unevolved), yet everyone seemed to be satisfied.
It was Mona’s turn to ask a q. “Every time
I fly into India from some place abroad, I see the slums near the airport and
it fills me with a sense of depression,” she said on a sigh. The answer to that, I
would have thought, was: don’t look out of the window till the plane has
touched down. But of course, Vermilion
had already launched a blitzkrieg on the evils of poverty and venality,
wholly unconnected in any way to Mona’s question.
My eyes were beginning to glaze over. It
was time I left. Risking Mona’s ire, I nudged her and jerked my head to
indicate the door.
At which, Mona nodded affably. Not stopping
to marvel at this unlooked-for gentleness of spirit in my friend (no doubt the
result of the session) I stood up, preparing to sidle out. Only to be stopped
by Vermilion’s booming voice.
“Yes, my friend, what is your problem?” A
furtive look around verified the horrifying fact: the man was addressing
me.”Er, no problem Your Honour,” I stammered, feeling like I was in court.
Vermilion sighed dramatically, loudly,
sadly. “I understand, dear lady. That is the worst problem. Obviously your life
is steeped in selfish pleasures, you have reached a stage where you feel you
have no problems at all.”
Dear readers, I will spare you the lecture
that followed. At the end of it, my face matched Vermilion’s shirt. Lo and behold, my
consciousness had been raised but my wallet thinned out. One session with
Vermilion cost Rs. 1,000 only. Well, you didn’t think consciousness raising
came cheap, did you?