Monday, June 30, 2008

Fight on the Block

"He insulted you, Guru." I was quietly sobbing into the phone, standing in the Smile's scullery.

Guru told me not to worry. "I'm very proud of you, good boy."

It had all happened rather quickly just a few minutes earlier. A table full of teenagers had just finished their lunch. One of them, however, had snuck out without paying.

I followed him out and browbeat him back into the Smile to pay. At that point, while still outside on the block, one of his friends said, "Fuck the Guru." As I later learned, the local teenagers referred to disciples as "gurus," but at the time, I thought he was insulting Guru directly. I blew my stack.

I aggressively shoved the guy, who was tall -- six feet easy. In one movement he handed a textbook he was carrying to his buddy and swung around and belted me just beneath the left eye.

Dazed, I stumbled backward a step or two. Then, I sprung on him, closing the distance between us and put him in a headlock, bringing him to the pavement. Before I could start raining blows down upon his defenseless face, I felt multiple pairs of hands on me. Satyajit and Sahishnu were pulling me up and pulling us apart.

Just as we separated, the guy belted me again. I broke free of my brother disciples and slipped the headlock on again, determined not to let go this time. Nevertheless, we were pulled apart again, my outstretched hand gripping the guy's long hair, not wanting to let go.

Back in the Smile, the adrenaline pumping through the organism was giving me the shakes. Just minutes later, Sahishnu was holding the phone.

"Yogaloy. It's Guru. He wants to talk to you."

After talking to Guru, Sahishnu cut me loose early. I went home, took a shower, and tried to relax. That evening, Guru invited the whole Smile crew to his house for dinner, by which time I was sporting a nice shiner (of which I felt kind of proud).

It was very nice at Guru's that night. Guru told us how important it was that we, as disciples, defend each other. He said that that had been one of the things he admired about the Muslims he had been exposed to in his native Bangladesh (Bengal, India, at the time) as a boy. The Muslims, he said, stuck together.

Guru said the same should be true of us. When we saw a disciple in trouble, we shouldn't ask questions or wonder who is to blame, but instead spring into action. It seemed like Guru was directing his comments to the other guys, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Another interesting thing Guru said was that when a person intervenes to prevent some kind of criminal or hostile event, the act of intervening itself oftentimes prevents other hostile acts from occurring within a few miles of the original incident.

It certainly calmed things down in the Smile for the rest of the school year -- the kids were alright. The job at the Smile was a stressful one, though, and it had begun wearing on me. In fact, during his last visit, Jeevan told me that I had been grinding my teeth at night.

I needed a break, and thanks to a good friend, I was about to get one.

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