noa photography

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‘God Wallah,’ a Short Story by Noa Jones

New Delhi, 2007

On the eve of a massive golden jubilee celebration that is to fill the streets of New Delhi, I am helping my boss into the bathtub for the last time. The task is made difficult by the fact that he had a sip of liqueur after dinner. We were at a party hosted by the Kenyan ambassador earlier this evening, and as a final course they served flutes of Chartreuse with a horrible-looking pudding. He took the glass, saluted the hosts, and with a flourish made the motions of drinking it all in one go. A German delegate said, “Ho, ho!” and followed suit. But when my boss set the glass back on the table, I could see that it was still completely full. The liquid had barely passed his lips. Nevertheless, as soon as we left the embassy gates he started behaving as if he had downed a whole bottle of whiskey. “I’m drunk!” he proclaimed. He hung on my arm weaving back to the car. Maybe he was, or maybe he was acting—who am I to presume to understand the motivations of a holy man? I am not supposed to think of him as subject to mundane human fallibilities like drunkenness, or faking drunkenness, for that matter. He is a man who—his devotees believe—exists in a realm beyond the ego’s machinations. 

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