With Anandamayi Ma at Gelateria

by Mark Chmiel

for Dr. Amy Afanasevich

After meditating way past midnight
I went to my mat and fell asleep
And soon in a dream
Sri Anandamayi Ma and I are having a  tête-à-tête

She looks mid-twenties
She is wearing a tie-dye t-shirt
And is sitting across from me
Outside at Gelateria

The curious passers-by
Might assume she is a medical student
Taking a break from her books
That would account for the light emanating from her

She’s wearing a faint smile
And I’m a little nervous
She obviously knows this too
And tries to put me at ease

“You know you strike me
As a little confused
(I’m thinking: Her Bengali-accented
English is pretty good)

There are very few things
You need to remember…
If you all you do is exert effort
To remember each minute

Then you’ll make progress
You’ll see progress
Others will see progress too…
Now isn’t that a happy thought?

So, Shimmelevsky, I tell you
There’s nothing new
In what I have to say to you
Just a few applications

You are not your body
You are not your mind
You are not your library
You are not your publications

You are not your fan club
You are not your home
You are not your sporty little Fiat
You are not your small portfolio

(‘How did she know
About those meager–
And dwindling–
Investments?’)

You are not your curriculum vitae
Remember how you tell your students
‘You are not your GPA’?
You must practice what you preach

You are not your Twitter followers
You are not your awards from the university
You certainly are not your social networks
You are not your community service hours

You are not those thousand thoughts
You believe you are
You are not those same hundred stories
You play over and over in your mind

You are not your U.S. passport
You are not  your professor identity
You are not what people say you are
You are not what people say you are not

You are not your green eyes
That have gotten you into trouble
You are not that half-smile
That seems to seduce a certain kind of personality

You are not who you think you are
You are not all that sitcom conditioning
You are not all those layers of academic indoctrination
You are not all that middle-class māyā …”

So I blurt out:
“But Srimatiji
Tell me then–
Who am I really?”

She smiles at me so beautifully
And I feel her eyes penetrating through all my layers
And she is seeing and loving me in all of that
And she begins to speak

And then I wake up

Anadamayi Ma

–from work-in-progress, Namaste Forever

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