The sluggish Swami sat, slumped

on my Bredrin’s sofa,

just south

of 117th Street.

Dressed in orange Puma gear,

his chubby upper-lip was sprinkled with wispy hairs

that I’m sure were feeling quite scared

of this chilly January blitz.

He looked about… 19?

He looked bored.

He looked like he was less than keen,

but he asked me why I had come to see him

and I decided to, yet again, be ingratiating.


Cos he was in all-orange and I was in jeans?

“Psssh. You should know better, Buckman”

I say to myself

whenever I replay

this fucking scene.


So I sit there

and I try to respectfully explain

that I found some of yesterday’s talk difficult to maintain.

I mean, amazing, of course,

what with him being so wise and well-taught,

and us being so keen

and hungry for the knowledge

and so pleased

that he’s come to visit us

and chosen our group of enthusiasts

to impart some of his wisdom to…

“Of course I am honored, Swamiji.” I said.

“But… I do… I do find some of it hard to wrap my head around

because, of course, I’m a woman,

a Western woman,

and I’m afforded certain freedoms

and so it’s difficult for me to receive some of the teachings you were teaching you see,

because well, some of them Swamiji?

just some of them,

sort-of seem to pitch women below men, that’s all really.

I mean… Respectfully.”


And then the sluggish Swami learnt forward, right?

and began to recite

what I can only call the most



xenophobic rhetoric

I’ve ever heard anyone spit in the flesh.

Like, yeah… I’ve read backwards shit and I’ve seen it on the telly and all the rest,

but I’ve never sat inches away

from someone who was actually trying to say…

that in his village women must stay in the home or else they’ll be raped by Muslims.

And whilst in the home

it’s better for them to cook

and clean

because women can’t possibly receive

the same spiritual fruit as men because they bleed…

and the pain of the menstrual cycle

is not conducive to learning the Vedas which is basically the Hindu bible.


And because

I am my Mother’s daughter,

and because

I am my Grandmother’s granddaughter,

and because

I am my Father’s daughter,

and because I am my daughter’s mother…

and because I am sister to my brothers:

I challenged him.

Like, I really tried to challenge this stupid, now slightly sweaty, sluggish Swami, and as I did

I began to get a little sweaty myself,

and as I went round, and round, in cycles

with the imbecilic completely ridiculous wannabe-Rishi

I realized that I wasn’t actually sweating at all you see…

I was bleeding.


In my jeans.

On my Bredrin’s sofa just south of 117th street


was the walking proof of a western woman who had exercised

her right to choose.


And they told me I should probably expect some bleeding

but my mind had always been two steps ahead of my body and my body had been holding on…

so I hadn’t experienced anything.

Other than the weight of our decision,

the relief

and the grief of it.


But in that moment sat on that sofa

I smiled for the first time in a week.

And I let the ramblings of this

unfortunate, ignorant, infantile boy

blow away with the Harlem wind…

And I thought myself

“I’m gonna be here in the spring”.

1 thought on “SWAMIJI.”

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