Friday, December 13, 2013



When I went to Kerala this winter I wanted to visit her Ashram but my mother wasn’t interested.  Since I already had my mother doing many things she wasn’t interested in doing in India

I decided to let this one go.  Months later in summer, when driving past LACMA I saw banners all down Wilshire Boulevard announcing her visit to Los Angeles.  Amma was going to be here, at the very least, I could go see her and get a hug.  I wasn’t working. My days were free. No excuses.  It had to be done.  She was coming here.

Flanked by two of my closest friends, I went to see Amma at a hotel near the airport.  An all-day affair of getting in line after line filled with beautiful people with equally beautiful flowing outfits eventually having my group called and inching up chair by chair to her Deus.  Now, on the stage, being told don’t touch her, (that threw me, don’t touch her).  She held me like mother earth and said something to me in both ears which I couldn’t understand.  I was limp trying not to touch her.  It was awkward being hugged but not hugging back.  But I thought, they told me not to hug back, I must do what they say.

 One long hug, some words, second long hug.  Someone had asked me before I sat for my hug what language I spoke and I replied English.  But I wasn’t savvy enough to listen for the translation or even consider there was a translator up there.  I just felt the hug and the heard gibberish in my ears not really thinking this was supposed to be a message to be understood and translated into my own language. 

Everything seemed so visceral and outside of language.  Maybe I just considered she was talking in tongues like the black Baptists I grew up with and saw getting happy and fainting in church on Sunday.  But later when someone asked what she said to me I thought, oops,  was she saying something to me, I hadn’t accounted for that, I was just there to get a hug and I had read somewhere you should concentrate on something you really want while she hugs you.

I keep saying in my mind “please heal my body and heart… please heal my body and heart.”  I was saying it so fiercely and intently hoping unwanted thoughts wouldn’t come in and steal the power like all the stories of people blowing their wishes when the meet a genie.  But since I was thinking so intensely I didn’t leave any room for her. Next time I’ve got to leave her some space.

She was brown like me. I don’t know if the brown women of India feel the connection to me that I feel to them?  But I think they do because they gave me so much time and affection in Kerala.

I loved how brown she was/is. 

Is that not right to say?  I loved the brown skin women in Kerala and Amma was the mother of them all. 

The queen of the Southern fisherwomen that Salmon Rushdie insulted so in Midnight’s Children through his character Reverend mother who talks of Mumtaz, as the “blackie” daughter she could never love because of her “skin of a Southern Indian fisherwoman” these same women that I loved and I thought of as my sisters. But I am a “blackie” even if am not so dark as black and more brown like a coffee with lots of cream.

So, how do I sum up Amma?  She was powerful.  The visit was a confusing.  I wasn’t sure of all the instructions.  But, when she comes this way or if I go back to Kerala I want to hug her again.  I want to try again and be more open.

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