The car door shut with a violent thud and my girlfriend was momentarily startled. But then she recovered quickly and smiled sheepishly at me as she closed her door neatly and walked around the hood towards me. I would not have been here except for her. She's my ultimate friend and confident, and there are no kept secrets as far as our relationship goes. She'd been with me when it happened; when several calamities, each one of them the size of an angry avalanche, came tumbling down the steep downhill path of unemployment. I'd been made redundant, true, but don't get me wrong. I'm a tough cookie when it comes to employment. I'm multi-talented and versatile, and can acclimate myself to any set of conditions the World Bank and Wall Street might see fit. But the ensuing events, truth be told, got to me eventually; my foreign language course-- requisite for my immigration application-- was going badly, my application for an exemption from military service (for which I'm obliged to pay a handsome money in terms of an allowance) was mishandled, and to top it all off, my girlfriend wanted commitment. Well, she was supportive, alright. But she'd sensed that, given all the afore-mentioned pressures, I could be on the verge of bailing out of town soon. And she needed assurances that that won't happen without her in tow.
She'd seen me becoming a little angrier than I usually am. I'd gotten morose and bad-tempered, she said. And she was going to do something about it. She'd heard of this great specialist; an expert on untangling bodily energy nodes. Chakras, I'd heard her say, are vital for the well being of human body and mind. I'd reluctantly agreed to experiment with the Chakras' expert. Slightly encouraged by the cool coincidence that 'chakra' in Arabic means 'a blonde', and I've always had a thing for blonds. (my girl friend isn't one)
And so it was arranged that, on this hot and humid early July morning, I would haul my sulky self, with my girlfriend in tow, all the way to this lovely, yet far away, neighbourhood which goes by the name of Arabian Branches. And down the walkway to the door we sauntered, me and my girlfriend, hand in hand, ready to meet my savior. I swung the outer door open and was treated to a view of a well-maintained lawn. And down the walkway by the lawn we proceeded. An unseen fountain was bubbling somewhere. And high on plinths on both sides of the walkway were statues and miniatures of several creatures. One of them had caught my attention: two frogs engaging in an act of cunnilingus. My girlfriend squeezed my hand and looked furtively, probably embarrassed. The door opened before I even hit the buzzer. An old woman with huge shawl, white hair and frail figure shook our hands. She had a relatively strong grip and was very economical with words. She motioned for us to follow her inside. The dark entrails of the villa sucked us in, my eyes took several moments to adjust and I bumped into several artifacts (or so they felt like) while I followed Madame Bovary into what looked like a living room. There were several living things there, alright. A hissing sounds, emanating from a wicker basket close by the door, almost made me lose my cool. The water bubbling was even more pronounced, although I still couldn't see a fountain.
The room itself was modestly decorated. The ceiling was a spotless off-white paint job. The walls, adversely, looked like a zoo in their dark olive green paint. Several posters illustrated what looked like charts of some sort, with an assortment of seeds, herbs, exquisite fruits and other symbolism that I couldn't comprehend. Probably Chakra-related math equations. There was a anatomical poster of a man, with bulging muscles and a bent elbow. His body was dotted with many red marks which lead to circled note by the margins. Chakras. The penis was missing though, and my girlfriend squeezed my hand again. However, the most prominent feature in the room, by far, was a head statue mounted high on the wall above the poster of the human body. Upon enquiring, Madame Bovary said it was the head of some great Sage. And I gotta tell you, it gave me the creeps right there and then. It had a part-smile, part-sneer look of wisdom to it. There was a touch of innocence, too, largely contrasted by the overpowering malice that was emanating from the diabolical eyes. I was then told to take off my shoes and lie down on the recliner. The recliner was positioned right in the middle of the room. Madame Bovary sat next to me, and turned a little so that her face facing mine and the Sage's at the same time. She took my left hand in hers and rubbed it lightly. Inspecting all the ridges and crevasses of skin in my palm. She then dug her fingernails in my wrest and a loud grunt escaped my mouth. She looked gravely at me and implored me to concentrate. I nodded and she went back to looking at the Sage. When her fingers finally settled in the recesses between my wrest tendons, she asked me what I was there for. I looked at my girlfriend in surprise. I'd thought that such a crucial knowledge was already exchanged between them and the matter taken care of. My girlfriend shrugged, and I answered. I mentioned the difficulties I was facing in my venture to hunt for a job. I mentioned my military service status, too. But Madame Bovary, who hadn't taken her eyes off the Sage, looked confused. She wanted to go back to the subject of my employment. But she had some preparations to do first; a process she called Vital Diagnosis.
She said she'll mention certain words to me, and I was to think of them for a bit while she assessed my vital reactions and then gauged my components [sic]. When she said 'sexuality', the first image that leapt to mind was that of the two frogs frozen in their act of eternal pleasure on her doorstep. I saw her jutting down notes. Percentages. But I couldn't see clearly. She then uttered 'security', and my mind drifted to the UN Security Council. She dug her thumb nail deeper in my wrest to measure my security vitals, her eyes never meeting mine, and jotted down some more notes. Next on the list was 'insecurity', and I was about to suggest that she could simply conclude that by subtracting the score for security from 100%. But I kept my hole shut, while my mind conjured up all kind of insecure scenarios. Her hand kept sliding down the note pad while she wrote, until I could see that my sexuality vitals, according to her, were 50%. What? I silently screamed. If it hadn't been for my girlfriend's presence, I would have shown that bitch a piece of the 50% right there and then.
When we were done with the vitals, she told me to draw a deadline in my head for when I wanted to find a job. I did as instructed and a laser beam appeared on the spotless ceiling. She told me to follow it with my eyes as I repeated certain phrases after her. The laser beam then danced around and I tried hard to catch up with it while repeating the requisite chorus. I couldn't take it anymore. The laughter, when it came, started up with a pinch in the bridge of my nose and heavy convulsions in my stomach. I managed to keep my voice calm and wrest steady, though, and Madame Bovary, laser pointer in hand, kept looking gravely at the Sage. The Sage looked right back at her. I reckoned he could have been on the phone with Alan Greenspan or Warren Buffet. Telling them to stop fucking with my career. Madame Bovary fell silent and nodded ominously. The laser beam on the ceiling got more jittery, and I thought I'd better stop repeating the same words stupidly. But I was concerned that that might disrupt the connection with New York. I kept blabbering away for ten minutes until my voice got hoarse and my pharynges scraped at each other like a pair of worn brake pads. God, I needed a cigarette. And I desperately needed this torture session to end.
As if on a cue, Madame Bovary dropped the laser pointer and stood up abruptly. 'That would be six hundred DHs', she announced. And my girlfriend handed the money over, a move we orchestrated earlier, hoping we'd get a discount of some sort. But the Sage was unimpressed, and we were given naught in form of a discount.
I put my shoes back on and rubbed their soles with my palms before shaking Madame Bovari's hands goodbye. But before I left the room for good, I took a good final look at the Sage. He looked back on, his grin getting even wider with time.
I wondered how much of a kickback the bastard was skimming off me.
This story was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend today.