Showroom of Perfection NEW DELHI – THE BLESSING Chapter 34

11 03 2011


A slight man in an orange robe, dripping with beads enters Aroona’s factory. Everybody bows and steps aside. Aroona whispers a hectic command to her servant and a few seconds later, a bowl with fruit sits on her desk. The robed man bites into an mango and eats it without peeling it. All that is left is the pit. Then he attacks a papaya the same way.

Aroona and me watch in respectful silence as he scarves his way through oranges and bananas and a few more mangoes. He pushes the plate away, grunts and leans back.

Aroona and the fruity robed man talk in Hindu. I can tell they exchange polite chatter, but after a while, he looks at me and I squirm.

This is the holy man she has invited to tell me – us – about my future. I don’t believe in this kind of thing, but I have agreed to be a polite guest.

I need Aroona. I need my Indian and Chinese factories. I need to be polite and I need them to like me or my career as a successful fashion designer is at stake. When I travel to my factories, I am popular, they all love me. Mostly because I eat whatever they eat. They all admire my adventurous appetite, my fearless willingness to eat everything from snakes to suspicious mushroms and lots of MSG.

“You are so refreshing, it’s such a joy to eat with you. All the other Americans who come here, they are too scared, too American to eat with us. Always on a diet, always scared. Hahaha. You are great!” Mr. Johnson in Hangtzou tells me at every meal.

“I know. Those Americans are so worried about their figures and their health. Well, not me. Bring it on”, I laugh and tuck into another browns sauce that has little brown frogs floating in it.

Little do they know. Little does anybody know. I am the only one who knows why I don’t care what I eat, how much, how gross, how unhealthy. I’m fearless alright.

But now, this guy’s luminous stare makes me wonder. Is he going to find out what I do after I people-please my hosts at all those tables all over the world?

He points to my laptop and Aroona translates.

“Find a picture of you and your husband” she says, excitement in her dark voice.

As soon as I open the pcture, he stares in silence, but only for a moment. Then he speaks in rapid-fire Hindu and Aroona’s face looks concerned. She asks him something, but Sari-Man only nods. He checks me out, head to toe and turns back to her.

She looks skeptical at first and I chime in.

“What? What are you guys so weird about?” I inquire nervously, even though I already know.  The picture I pulled up shows Payne with his arm around my neck, not nice, as in his arm around my neck as a gesture of affection. He squeezes my neck but I laugh in the picture. Clearly, because I have no other choice.

“He is fucking with you” , Aroona translates haltingly and I know she’s telling me only half the words the guy tells her.

“And he will fuck with you way more. He’s a bad guy for you. He will make you want to die. He loves you but he screws around right now.You are no match for him. You are way too nice. He is a sick and twisted man and he will cause you heartbreak. Leave him or you will die”

Aroona does not want to tell me this. She’s much rather tell me something that would make us all happy. We have become friends over the last ten days. But she knows that Sari-Man is always right. She continues to translate his rants.

“He has other women. Many other women. Many. Not just a few. He wants to love you but he needs to prove that he’s  hetero sexual because he is not. He needs you. He loves you, but he is not faithful”

After another silent pause he looks at me with pity.

“ He is not married to her.”

Aroona looks at me.

“Is this true? You said he is your husband. You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”

“Well actually”, I stumble, “Actually, we are technically not married, but after 13 years together, we always say we are. I mean,…”

“Whatever. That’s your private matter.” She says. But I can tell, my trustworthyness to her has dropped a few degrees.

“ He will marry her because she will do something for him that only she can do .”, the man interrupts our girl-talk.

“ But he will go on fornicating with other women. I see a black girl, a troubled and sick black girl he loves and tries to save. She is very ill. She will die soon. And there are others, many others,”

He stops to look at me again. His green eyes tear into me and for a moment they lose their sparkly luster.

Aroona gets up and spreads her prayer carpet on the floor. She sits down cross legged and starts to chant. Not a good sign. They both chant now and the picture of Payne and me stares back at me, ominous and dangerous. I click it shut.

“What about my career?” I ask.

Aroona nods to me and points to the prayer rug. I will have to wait. I flip through a Vogue Magazine and rip out pages of inspirations, designs I want to get done before I leave here. So far, the results of our labor together does not satisfy me. I know it will not make a splash and Philippe and William, my sleazy business partners will use this to get out of their contract with me.

I see Philippe’s face in front of me and the spittle that flew out of his mouth when he yelled at me last time I showed him new designs.

“You are not giving me your best. It has no soul. I know it’s there, why do you hold on to it? Why don’t you give me what you have?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m trying. I’m working so hard and it just doesn’t come out right.” I mumble.

“You have to trust me”, he sighs. “William will withdraw the money and we will lose this company. All because of you. You’re acting like a beautiful women in a bar with horny guys. You’re hiding because you don’t want to be raped. I understand.”

“No, you don’t” I sob. “You don’t know how it feels to give my best just to see it copied by big companies I can’t compete with”

He lights another cigarette and I think about pliers, how I would snip off his big and yellow hare-teeth and set them straight. I always have this imagine when I talk to him. He sticks his hand down his pants, the way he does it and scratches his ass.

“I’m not gonna have your designs raped and stolen. I will get them produced and sold. Haven’t I proved this to you by now?” he takes another drag fro his cigarette and stomps it out on the side walk.

“I know, Philippe. Let me go to India and I promise you a collection that will sell” I beg through tears.

The friendly old man behind the News Paper Kiosk glares at Philippe. Philippe is a sight to hate: Five feet and fat, a chain smoker who showers once a week, he is rude and arrogant to everybody except to his elders at the Kabbalah Center. And to his wife. He cowers in front of his wife.

“I’ll talk it over with William. India is expensive.”

I ran upstairs and lock myself into the bathroom and cry.

Aroona folds her prayer mat and sits back down at the table. Sari man stays on the floor. His eyes bore into mine and suddenly I know that he knows. He can see my deepest secret. I also know that he has no words to describe what he sees. My secret, my bulimia has no Hindu word. He doesn’t know what he sees, but he knows it is bad.

He exchanges more words with Aroona and she haltingly translates.

“You have a huge rock rolling down the hill and you need to stop it. But you don’t have the strength. You could stop it and roll it back up, but only with a part of your mind that is closed off to you.”

He closes his eyes and speaks in a trance.

“ You are using your power against yourself. Do you abuse drugs or alcohol?” she translates.

“No!”, I protest “No, I’ve been clean for 20 yaers”

“Then it is something else. Something destructive and sinful against nature. I have medicine for you, but it will not help by itself.”

“What? What are you talking about?” I ask nervously. Because I know exactly what he’s talking about and I feel hopeless and desperate. If he only knew what I’ve done already to cure myself. Rehabs, therapy, 12-step programs, hypnosis, Kabbalah, books, tapes, Marianne Williamson….oh god. I’m hopeless.

He lays his hand on my forehead and prays. I feel his energy from the tips of his fingers penetrating my brain. Cells rearrange themselves, my thoughts stop and I lose myself.

When I wake up on the floor, he is gone. Aroona fans my face and leads me to the couch, where I fall asleep.

Back in my hotel room, I call room service and order six dishes. My food comes with six settings of cutlery and napkins.

“You expecting guests.” The very young and polite waiter states.

“Yes, they will be here shortly, yes over there on this table would be great.”

I watch him set the table for my imaginary dinner party, shame creeping up inside my throat. I’m used to this. It’s a scene played out over and over in hotelrooms all over the world. This is what I do. This is who I am. A lonely bulimic girl with feelings I don’t have names for.

He leaves and I’m alone with my drug, my secret love affair and I cry. Deep sobs that come from a place I have closed off for 19 years. The food looks delicious, but I can’t even look at it. I must have food poisoning. I cannot eat. It still sits there untouched when I wake up early to pack. I am leaving today, back to LA.


I am so sick, this must be food poisoning. My stomach hurts like hell.

“Throw up and get rid of this poison” I whisper. But somehow, I have no idea how and why, I don’t do it.



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