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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 90 laughed it off. But when we finally got to the window, chant- ing mantras under our breath, the pale American embassy worker glanced at our huge packet of official papers with official stamps and, without even looking at our faces, added one more: “rejected.” THE NExT TWENTY-fOUr HOUrS ArE BLUrrY. I blocked them out. Delhi is hot and dirty, and mostly I remember my throat drying up. We went to a terrible restaurant that night, and Sonam, for the first time since I’d known him, ate meat. It seemed the rejection had shaken his faith. It certainly had shaken mine. “Today I am very sad,” he said. “I am sorry, Ja-ma. This plan no good.” I’d failed Sonam. Why had I agreed to the quixotic plan in the first place? Was it because some hermit said it was a good idea? Having high spiritual realization didn’t mean he knew about the U.S. Embassy. Our spirits were low, and riding in the cab around Delhi everything seemed hopeless. We went to bed silent, without our evening chants. I had restless dreams of war and travel. The next day Sonam was up early, doing his puja. I rolled over and had that feeling of not knowing which city I was waking up in. When I remembered I’d been trying to get a monk out of India, I thought, I need to get out of this country—I’m detach- ing from reality. I was tired of showering with a bucket, tired of bargaining, tired of bus tires falling off. I expected Sonam to be depressed, too, but when I looked at him, he took a break from his prayers and smiled. “Ja-ma, good resting.” “How are you?” I asked sluggishly. “This morning, I am very happy.” And he genuinely was. “This visa, no problem,” he said, as if the visa were just an egg he had left out of a cake. “Later, you me Tibet going.” It’s amazing how much we affect each other’s moods, how there is really no separation between us. Seeing Sonam happy, I instantly felt lighter. I didn’t need to leave India just yet. I could enjoy the last month before my plane was scheduled to leave. After all, once I left, I might never see Sonam again. When I did leave, a month later, Sonam gave me a ring with the Sanskrit symbol om on it. I almost never take off the ring, and Sonam and I write regularly. Every time I’m in a tough patch I get a mental picture of him. I can hear him saying, “This is very sad, no problem.” And now, six years later, I may even get to see him again. recently, I received a phone call. The person on the other end was laughing when I said hello. “Ja-ma,” the voice said. “This Sonam. I am here! I am here! – America.” ♦ Jaimal Yogis updates Sonam’s story on Shambhala SunSpace, www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace. Jaimal Yogis continued from page 24