Monday 7 September 2020

'You Have to Laugh' by David Holzer

As 'Guru Dave', David Holzer is A Leap in the Dark's resident yoga teacher. Over the past six months he has patiently tutored a lock-down audience in the rudiments of this practice and it's fair to say he's something of a cult. He has a following. The Pale usher looks on, warily. He's also a writer with many books to his name. On Saturday night he shared the following very short story with our Leap audience and has kindly allowed me to share it with you today. What you don't get, alas, is his deapan delivery of the hah-hah-hahs. You Have to Laugh by David Holzer ‘Who wants to go next?’ A girl stepped into the circle. We had to say the worst thing that had happened to us that year and everyone had to laugh. ‘Last year my ex-boyfriend died,’ she said. We laughed. ‘He asked me to be with him at the end.’ Some of us laughed. ‘I didn’t do it.’ A few laughed. ‘I feel so guilty.’ I was the only one who laughed. I whooped. I snorted. I shrieked. ‘Would you like to go next?’ the laughter yoga teacher said when I stopped. ‘No thanks.’ * * * The next day I was sitting at a table under a tree in what was called the Western Café getting ready to eat a vegan burrito followed by a gluten-free brownie with whipped soya cream and a green smoothie when a bird shit on me. There was shit on the table, all over my food, on my purple robe, in my hair and in my mouth. I had to go back to the room I shared with a Mother Amma devotee who was a Swiss banker, an Indian lad who’d been sent to the ashram from Singapore in the hope he’d stop thieving and a Russian with acne vulgaris, shower and change my robe for another. When I got back to the Western Café I ordered the same again but I didn’t sit under a tree. The Laughter Teacher appeared out of the shadows of the main hall where Amma hugged people and her devotees meditated upon her godliness. I waved to her. She came over. She had very white teeth. Her blue eyes were desperate. ‘This will make you laugh,’ I said. I told her the story of the bird shitting on me and my food. ‘Hah-hah-hah,’ she said. That was how she laughed, like she was speaking. A robot speaking. ‘Hah-hah-hah. Hah-hah-hah.’ Her trapped eyes. ‘I’ll tell you what happened to me,’ she said. ‘I was meditating this morning in front of the stage, where Mother usually sits and does her work. I was in child’s pose on my prayer mat, eyes closed, when I felt this weight on my head and neck.’ I laughed. ‘Hah-hah-hah,’ she said. ‘This huge woman had prostrated herself on the mat in front of me and she was too close to me. She sat down on my head.’ I laughed. ‘Hah-hah-hah,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t speak. It was scared.’ I laughed. ‘Hah-hah-hah, she said. ‘She did something to my neck. It really hurts.’ I whooped. I snorted. I shrieked. ‘Hah-hah-hah,’ she said. ‘Hah-hah-hah.’ I took a deep breath, said ‘You have to laugh, don’t you?’ ‘Hah-hah-hah,’ she said. ‘Hah-hah-hah.’

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