I'm sitting in my new office on my front porch, watching the sky turn pink, swatting away mosquitoes. It's hot and humid already and the sun isn't even up, and I have a to do list as long as the little lane we live on. Most of the things on my to do list include scrubbing mold, in the heat, so what I'd really like to do is share one more moment from Varanasi with you.
This one I'll share as a story.
Back in our friend's courtyard, an old friend stopped by. I'll call him G Baba. I hope it's not too presumptuous to call him an old friend, since I've never really spent as much time with him as I'd like to. But he's in the family, so to speak, he's great friends with Brendan and Leaf and Ute, and we go way back, to the time that I stayed in Varanasi for a few months, almost eleven years ago.
He came by, and I made chai, and we sat and chatted for a while, while the kids skippered around us and the chipmunks stole out with great daring, to find crumbs that we missed at lunch.
G Baba is a Canadian who made his way to India as a young man, and never left. He's been in Varanasi for forty years, living life as a sadhu. It means he doesn't own many things at all, he's poor, he walks everywhere. It's a difficult life. He's following a path, he says, trying to find God. When he was young he thought it might take a few years. Now he believes it will take his whole life.
We chatted about lots of things-- where our family will live in the future, political things, how stupid he thinks this upcoming race in Delhi is. I asked him some questions about his life, about the places he goes (not many) and the curves in life that brought him here.
And then we got around to talking about my book. G Baba read Leaf's copy of The Eve Tree and he began asking me about my writing process, how long it took me. He asked me at what point I came up with the scene at the end of the book, the pivotal scene. I told him it was the idea that sparked (ha ha) the whole book, although it didn't come out in its entirety, take the shape it has until I wrote it. G Baba called it my "Million Dollar Scene." He said it came upon him like an epiphany. He really liked the book. He really understood it. He GOT it.
I want to say that it was one of the most rewarding moments of my life, sitting and talking about The Eve Tree with G Baba in that courtyard. This independent publishing journey has been like a stiff hike up a tall mountain, with breathtaking views along the way and lots of sweat and gallons of water gulped from various streams. Talking with G Baba was like rounding a corner in the Himalayas, and getting a glimpse of snow capped mountains.
Everything I've wanted with my writing was right there. To tell a story of one world with someone in such a different world, to have them understand it and love it. To have it effect them, bring an epiphany. I didn't know my writing would bridge my worlds of travelers and of books, but it has, it's starting to.
And I see God in all of it, working in it right along, even as I take time from all my community things to pore over my notes and I hole myself away in a little room somewhere. I see more and more, this is what I was made to do. Back in Goa now I've been remembering all the little rooms I wrote in. The little studio back with the pigs, the hut on the beach which was hot and started to smell like sewage. Fighting for time, scrambling for words, waking in the early hours before anyone else is awake. And then I turn the corner and there G Baba is in the courtyard and the view is breathtaking. It makes the whole thing worth it.