Well, it happened like this… I’m on the plane in India, and I am with a friend who wants to go up to the mountains to see his Hindu Guru. I don’t want to go, but he wants to use the car that I’m taking care of for a friend, so I’m trapped, and I’m burned out on hashish, and I really want to go home, and I’ve never found anybody, and I’m discouraged. I figure I’ll become a shoe salesman or something, you know.
I’ve been thrown out of Harvard, so I don’t have that to go back to. And drugs aren’t working, so what will I do next?
I’m not in a good state, and my mother had died the previous February in Boston of an enlarged spleen. Her bone marrow stopped producing blood, and they removed her spleen, and she died. Four months later I went off to India.
So we stay overnight on the way up to the mountains, and during the night I go out to go to the toilet, and I’m under the stars. And the stars are very present, and I think about my mother. She comes very strongly to mind, and Freudians have had no end of fun with the fact that I’m peeing and thinking about my mother. But leaving that aside, I don’t tell anybody, I just go to bed.
The next day I continue up the mountain with my friend, and we come to this little temple, and he gets out, he’s crying, going to see his guru, and I’m just like, “Let’s get this over with,” but then people surround the car, and they tell my friend where to go.
They are saying, “Come on, come on,” so I get out and stumble up this path, and under a tree is sitting this old man with a blanket around him and about eight people, and my friend is flat on his face touching this guy’s feet, and I think I sure as hell am not going to do that.
So, I am sort of sitting, standing with my arms crossed, sort of watching this scene, as a kind of an anthropological dig sort of thing. He looks up at me and says in Hindi, which gets translated:
“You came in a big car,” which was my friends car.
I said “Yeah.”
He said, “You give it to me?”
And I just thought ya know, I’ve been connected with Jewish charities for years, and I’ve never been hustled this fast in my whole life. This is absolutely incredible.
But then this young fellow said, “If you want it, you can have it,” and I’m getting very worked up, with everyone laughing at me, and I’m getting incredibly paranoid.
So, he says, “You made a lot of money in America?” That got my ego, see.
And I said, “Well yes…”
And he said, “You’ll buy one like it for me?”
I was just saying, “Yeah, ya know, maybe, who knows what will happen.” Then he said for us to be taken away and fed. As we were walking away, I was called back to him. I sat down with him, but I still wouldn’t touch or you know. I was just gonna put up with it.
He sat really close to me, and he looked at me, and he said in Hindi, there was a translator there:“You were under the stars last night.”
I said, “Yeah,” like I mean the likelihood you are gonna be out under the stars is pretty good.
Then he closed his eyes for a second and he said, “You were thinking about your mother”. Now just put yourself in my position. Harvard professor of psychology, you know, like I’ve got my virginity to protect here. I’ve got my social science, and this quaint little man, how does he know that? I haven’t told anybody that.
I said, “Yeah.”
Then he tells me, “She died last year.”
And I could feel the sweat started to come down my arms. My spine started to tingle, and I had a very strange feeling.
And he said, “She got very big in the belly before she died.”
“Yeah,” I said, and that was all in Hindi.
Then he leaned forward really close to me and in English, which was bizarre, because he never spoke English later, he said, “Spleen,” and I fell apart.
I went through my CIA fantasies, you know, like he’s gonna push a button, and the earth opens up and there are files and you know, but there was no way. I mean, it was too far off the wall, and I just gave up and he just stayed there looking at me, and I felt this violent wrenching in my chest, and I started to cry.
It was like something opened that was very ancient and closed, and I started to sob and sob. I cried for about two days, and don’t even know what it was about. It was like I was home or something like that. And they took care of me, and I didn’t leave that place for five months except to renew my visa.