My foot was falling asleep. A squat, lardy, bespectacled, dumpling of a man in a tracksuit was reading a sutra through beady eyes I could barely make out. He stood before 20 or so college students who sat cross-legged on scarlet cushions. Behind him were vivid images of bodhisattvas and framed photographs of this lama and that, including an autographed image of the Dalai-Lama. Thankas of the bodhisattva, Avalokitesvera were unfurled over the windows, blocking most of the light.
The man, who was a lama, recited buddhist prayers like a schoolboy stumbling over his verses. His chin warbled as he struggled along in an emphatic American accent, occasionally losing his place then starting up again.To my weakness, I couldn't go beyond the comedy of this being who was nonetheless trying to expound the profound wisdom of the dharma.
In front of me sat a girl whose doughy arse bulged out of low-cut jeans. To my right was a young buddhist enthusiast and the most eager of the students. He wore an ethnic inspired jacket and was thinner than me, girlish in appearance. He sat bolt upright, transfixed by the lama in the tracksuit. I couldn't stop staring at his effeminate hands. A person of 2o years or so, his voice still echoed with puberty. What a delicate human being, I marveled in silence, as my attention strayed towards a prayer wheel, whirring mechanically amidst the nasally drone of the Tracksuit-Lama whose pudding-like form had not budged once from his firmly rooted position.
I reminded myself that this place was sacred, but I felt the cruelty of a snigger playing upon my lips, attempting to breach my self-restraint. I chastised myself, thinking that I should attempt to see beyond the absurdity of appearances, but it was horrendously hard. The immature need to giggle overwhelmed me and the threat of those bubbly emanations dammed up inside me made me fidget. I bit my lips, glanced to my left, and saw my friend listening attentively to the Tracksuit-Lama. Everyone else was taking him seriously. I felt silly, mirthfully so. The comical figure of the Tracksuit-Lama had awakened something in me which convention and respect silenced. Sometimes we readily consign ourselves to solemnity when we can just as easily yield to euphoric laughter.