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   ‘This is insufferable. I have observed the fellow begging. Why will he not accept my payment?’    ‘Memsahib, he is a sadhu, a holy man. He accepts only gifts of alms.’    ‘Piffle. I see no difference between alms and payment.’    ‘With respect, memsahib, he receives alms to pursue his own enlightenment and the instruction of others.’ The servant gave a sideways wobble of his head. ‘It is said that kindness to a holy man can bring good fortune.’    ‘Very well, put a few coins in his bowl, and instruct him to meditate here.’    With obvious reluctance, the servant departed once more.    Seated by a shaded window in a breeze bearing the scent of jasmine and lotus blossoms, I watched him scuttle off toward Lakkar bazaar.    Again he returned alone.    ‘The sadhu thanks you for your generosity, memsahib,’ the servant said. He took a step backward, head lowered. ‘He compliments you on your youth and beauty, but he insists that he will meditate where and when he pleases.’    Declaring my intention to prevail and that my husband should hear of this insulting behaviour upon his return, I waved the servant from my sight.    ‘A thousand pardons, memsahib,’ my servant mumbled, backing toward the door, ‘but, with great respect, if it please the memsahib, it is— ‘ The servant paused, head bobbing, ‘—unwise to force a sadhu to act against his will.’    ‘You presume to question my actions? How dare you? Tomorrow you shall take the houseboys and bring this, this, sadhu to me. Tie him up and drag him if you must. I refuse to be slighted.’    Such rigorous measures, however, proved unnecessary on this occasion. The sadhu, clearly having reconsidered his position, presented himself at the servants’ entrance soon after daybreak.    A houseboy brought him to my studio and there the sadhu stood, hirsute, serene, indifferent to my class and status, surveying my studio and me at his leisure. Self-assured. Infuriating.    His manner of dress and apparent lack of hygiene were inexcusable. Had one of our servants presented in such a fashion I should have ordered him soundly thrashed. But then, as I reminded myself, what I required was character, and this man’s face and body – for his grubby dhoti covered little – had character aplenty, sunburned and craggy as they were.    Minutes ticked by. Overhead the punkah fan sighed and through the open windows a hazy buzz of insects drifted from the garden. The sadhu neither spoke nor displayed any intention of doing so. It occurred to me that he might not understand English.    ‘What do you wish of me, Princess?’ 48

LIJLA Vol.2, No.1 February 2014

Profile for Sacred Heart College

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

Profile for lijla
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