It has been exactly 10 years since I changed my appearance. My look. This ochre color dress. This long piebald hair and a similar mustache and beard. I am not Rajendra Parajuli anymore. I have transformed into swami Premraj. Over this decade-long period, I have delivered speeches at a hundred places, at least. Though I felt a bit awkward to speak in front of a crowd initially, continuous practice and study have made my oratory skills attractive. I can’t give you the exact number but my interviews have been published or aired nearly a hundred times. One of my followers has said that she has kept them safe. She says they will be helpful in making a book.
Whether it’s a speech or an interview, the topic on which I speak is the same. ‘Character and spirituality’ has become my subject. Sometimes, I link these two with science. Talking about science, I completed a Master’s degree in science about 25 five years ago. So, I have a deep interest in this subject. My family wanted to see me become a doctor or an engineer. That’s why I was forced to study science. But I turned into this. Every incident has a reason. So, there is a reason why I chose this path.
The number of my followers has increased. No one utters a word once I start delivering my speech. That means I have already become a successful swami. I have no complaints about choosing this path in life. However, for the last few days, I have been haunted by a troubling thought. It’s such that I cannot tell anyone about it. After becoming swami Premraj, I have been trying to forget my past life. More or less, I have been successful in this. However, I have not been able to forget a period in my life despite trying hard to forget it. It’s a dark period from my adolescence. Perhaps a journey into the darkness makes us more aware. This is what I believe.
On the one hand, I am known as a swami who delivers popular speeches on ‘character and spirituality’ while on the other, a couple of incidents from the past keep worrying me. Further aggravating my worries is a young man who has been after me for the past few days
Today, I haven’t given time to anyone. The same young man has said he will come to meet me. A popular television channel had asked me to give them some time for a long interview. They said the interview would be broadcast over nearly half a dozen episodes. In the beginning I said ‘yes’. I had even postponed my speeches at other places for the same reason. Also, an elite Rana family had invited me to their home to deliver a speech. But I said I would come after a few days.
I quite enjoy delivering speeches at the homes of the Ranas, Shahs and the other so-called upper class people. They think the gods will be happy if I deliver a speech at their homes. The main thing is they listen to my speech quite keenly. The other thing is they don’t ask me any question about spirituality; their questions are only about character. They have a deep interest in topics like love, sex, marriage, divorce etc. A few months ago, I had been to the house of a Rana. One of the Rana’s sons was of a polygamous nature. He had frittered away a lot of wealth in that cause.
“Swami ji! Is it a case of rape if I quench my thirst for sex by paying for it?”
“Is it rape if I have sex with a girl I am deeply in love with?”
“Is it a sin if I help a poor girl financially and have sex with her in return?”
“If a girl has sex with me forcefully even if I am unwilling, is that rape or not?”
He had many other questions perhaps; he was unwilling to sit on the sofa. His elder sister held him by his arm and made him sit on the sofa and said, “Keep quiet.”
I answered all his questions negatively, except for the last question. In response to his last question, I had said, “Yes, it is.”
I could read on his sister’s face that she too had several questions for me. But she fell on the sofa without saying anything. She had been married off to an affluent family. She would come to her maternal home to listen to my speeches. She too has invited me to her house to give a speech. The time is yet to be fixed. A mother of two, she is very beautiful. I have never seen her teeth when she smiles. I felt as if huge tides rose and fell inside her heart. She wanted to calm the waters of her heart. But all of that is unexpressed, piling up inside her. I would sneak a look at her without anyone noticing. Her personality was very attractive. So, I couldn’t stop myself from stealing a glance at her though I had already become a swami.
Their mother, however, asked me to speak on religious matters. “Say something about Lord Krishna, swami ji,” she said in a buoyant voice. Then she threw a glance at her son.
She would never ask a question about her son’s character. Instead, she would mention the number of Lord Krishna’s gopinis and say, “At least, my son has not been in relationships with that many girls.” Then the son would be extremely glad. He would hug his mother and peck her on the cheek.
I have become the preferred swami of many such families. I enjoy expressing my views in such small groups rather than delivering my speech in open grounds under tarpaulin covers.
That young man happened to have listened to one my speeches delivered at the open ground at Tinkune, Koteshwor. “I am impressed by you, swami ji. The way you speak and your arguments based on science have always attracted me. I especially like your speeches on love. You become very emotional when you speak about love. Your voice comes straight from your heart. I am more impressed by your voice. There is magic in your voice, perhaps. When stories about love come through your voice, you look like a real swami. I am the least concerned about the character of gods; I have been studying the moral fiber of men. I am a ghost writer. So far, I have penned down the autobiographies of 20 persons. They pay me for this. I am the most expensive ghost writer in the market. All the books that I have written have cornered the market. Publishers vie with each other to publish books written by me. Now I want to write your autobiography. But I will not take even a single penny from you for that. I will write it for free and will also publish it. I will give you fifty percent of the profit from the sales. But your autobiography will have to be centered on character. Your character from the past. Your love story and your relations with the opposite sex.”
The young man’s talk has stupefied me. He wants to hear about my past from me. This young man wants to write a book on the character of swami Premraj who is so well known for delivering speeches on ‘character and spirituality’ and make money. It is his guess that the book will sell like hot cakes.
But what will happen to me once this book comes out! I am speechless. He had used such style to propose this to me! Why couldn’t I say ‘no’ to him, then and there? As I did not say anything, he perhaps thinks I have given him my permission to go ahead.
This young man has been trying to meet me for a long time. But I have been postponing the meeting. Today, however, I find it difficult to do so. He convinced me in such a way that it became difficult to say ‘no’ to him.
As he kept on insisting ‘we must meet at any cost today’, I agreed. There are only two hours to go before he arrives at my place.
Wow, the print is of such high quality! It’s become exactly 500 pages. Just the right size to carry in your hand. The outer cover has my photo. It’s a color photo and looks very attractive. Handing me the first copy of the book, he said, “Sawami ji, now you see what I do! Who else has understood Nepal’s book market better than me! This book will sell 10,000 copies in just one week. I will launch it in the market today itself.” He exited after saying this.
I started turning the pages of the book.
A paragraph which was about my relations with my last girlfriend caught my eyes.
It was a description of my love-tryst which had lasted for five years. We had started having sex right from the second day of our first meeting. She used to work for an international non-governmental organization. Had a good income. She used to urge me not to work anywhere and only love her. I obeyed her words. Why wouldn’t I? Who would feel like working if s/he has enough money and can live a life full of fun? I, too, didn’t feel like working. Our love was going at full speed. That love without any obstacles and the sexual acts it would trigger! I felt as if I was swimming in a deep pond.
Suddenly, arguments started to come between us. I resolved the first dispute by convincing her. Soon, a second dispute erupted on the same subject. The subject was – abortion.
I was for an abortion, she was against it.
At the first time, I had literally forced her into accepting the abortion. I had taken her to a renowned gynecologist in a cab. She wanted to give birth to the baby. This was not acceptable to me.
We faced the same problem for a second time. The problem had arisen because we were both careless. “It’s not that you have to marry me, just love me throughout my life. I will give birth to the baby,” she would say. But I didn’t want that. It’s not that I didn’t love her. She was my favorite. Perhaps, there was no ‘love’ in my other past love relations; only lust was there. But this relationship was different. It had all the elements of love. I was contented and she was too.
I asked her many times to do the abortion. But she did not agree. Days passed. She reached a stage where an abortion was not possible.
Then our love ended. We stopped seeing each other. After a few years, I heard that she had started living in the US with the baby.
After that, I never kept physical relations with any other girl. My relations with the opposite sex were limited to friendship. Gradually, I got disillusioned with life. I became a swami.
I was reading the book. Somebody threw a stone at my window. The glass broke. I looked out of the window. A group of people was chanting slogans against me. They were calling me a hypocrite, a thief, characterless, a womanizer and a male prostitute. They were carrying stones in their hands. They were headed toward me. Most of them were admirers of my speech. People who until a few days ago were ready to touch my feet were chanting against me. Aiming stones at the windows of my house.
Crash! Somebody smashed the glass of the largest window of my room with a stone. Outside, these people were talking about smearing my face black and parading me through the market. A boy entered my room, climbing up the window and started pulling down my ochre colored dress. I became naked. I was not able to retaliate against him. My hands and feet were jammed. Somebody hit me on the head with a stone from behind. It started bleeding and I tried to stop it. While doing so, I banged my hand on the window handle.
I was sweating profusely. My breath was fast and heavy. I was completely drenched in sweat even in the month of winter. I pushed the quilt to one side and looked at the wall clock. The ghost writer could come to my place any time now. My hands and feet had become feeble and weak like jelly. I was terrified by the dream I just had. It was haunting me.
“Was that a dream or a forewarning,” I asked myself. My heart was not ready to believe that it was just a dream.
Somebody knocked on my door. It must be the same young man. I peeped outside from the corner of the window.
The ghost writer was standing in front of my door, carrying a tape recorder and a camera.
I didn’t feel like opening the door. Instead I peeked out at him from the window and said, “Not now, bhai. Let’s wait for a few more years before writing my autobiography.”