“I had extraordinary hair, you know. Most people where I lived, they do not have shiny soft hair like mine. My mom told me it was a gift. I don’t want to lose it. When they shaved me, I feel like I lost my world, you know? My whole world.”
Bhante Sujatha is quiet. He sighs, looking out the passenger window, remembering. He is telling me about his ordination when he was an 11 year old boy.
“That’s when I knew I’d never go back to live with my family.”
We are driving together to a yoga retreat in the city. He leads retreats all over the country. His schedule is packed and I offer to drive him so I can interview him on the way. He holds my digital tape recorder in his lap.
“After my ordination, I watched my family walk down the hill, back to our house. At the bottom of the hill, just before she dropped out of my sight, my mom turned to look at me one last time. It was really hard. I kept trying to see her.”
He sits up really straight, lifting his head with his chin out and raising his eyebrows, as if he is looking down a hill, to show me what it was like.
I am moved, and I ask him if he is okay to keep answering questions.
“I am. You know, remembering all this? It’s really good. It feels good.”
I’ll remember his remembering for a lifetime.
I am a very lucky, very grateful, author.