I left the office around noon to find a thin homeless man wearing dirty black gym shorts with an oddly immaculate Santa's coat and hat ensemble at the end of our street. He was pushing around a shopping cart brimming with stuffed animals, which he abandoned long enough to accost a cute co-ed with, "C'mon girlie, give Santa a kiss!" She tried to step past, but each time she moved, he shifted with her with the same expectant pucker twisting his features. She finally got frustrated, took a big drag from her cigarette, and blew the smoke in his face to make good her escape.
I watched this, trying to figure out why the veins on his legs looked so peculiar and pronounced.
I was outside again not to long ago and passed him again. This time, all of his animation had left. He lay on his back, hatless, staring glassy-eyed at the slit of sky above our street. He could have been dead. I didn't stop to ask.
He was gone by the time I got back.
I remember this:
I am late to present a lecture on early Hindu mysticism, and am rushing across campus to the amphitheater where I am to be presenting. As I near the forum, I see everyone leaving. I pass by friends, family, my professors, other students, trying to convince them not to go, but none of them will speak to me. Finally, I see a young Indian woman I remember from my Hindu Scripture class with Father Clooney. She walks straight towards me, staring at me with huge, unblinking eyes. She stops about ten paces away from me and says in a voice that is so beautiful that its sound is painful, "You have angered the Gods."
My heart breaks.
There is a pause as everything around us melts away. She finally blinks and looks away. I can feel her disappointment as she turns and begins to walk away slowly. In the space where she was, Shiva stands, looking angry and loving and unmoved all at once. I fall to my knees and feel myself burning. I cry out in anguish. I am angry. I am ashamed. I want to begin again.