Mary Manuel in her own words:
My process is beyond simple, I sit at a notebook with a pencil in my hand and I write whatever comes to my mind. Then I type it on my computer and begin the process of revising.
Date With A Swami
by Mary Manuel
Speaking while he ate, and keeping the smile as he chewed, he thanked us for coming out on this cold night to eat cold food and listen to an old man talk. The crowd smiled but no one laughed, we are very polite here in Minnesota and we didn’t want him to think we were laughing at him. He briefly explained that a Darshan was an audience with a holy man or guru, who was there to answer questions from us and to teach through those answers. He hoped that we would all leave the Darshan more enlightened. I was seated two people to the left of him, thankfully, he said he would answer one question from each of us, starting to the right of him. Breathing a sigh of relief, I listened while forming a question to ask.
Eric was first and he asked Swami G why there were so many natural disasters and why the number of people dying in them seemed to grow each time there was another one. Swami G giggled and said, “Mother Earth is crying and she needs to call in as many souls as she can so they can be taught to care for her. When they have learned how to save the earth she will reincarnate them. It is Mother Earth’s only hope.” His answers to all of the questions were short and full of the exact explanation to why and how things were going to happen. When he got to me, I asked him about people who rise to high office around the world that appear to have evil and dangerous intentions, like Osama Bin Laden or George Bush. Serious this time with a deeply furrowed brow he said, “We all have free will and when people use it for evil they are pooping on the world, they will return as poop collectors, spending life after life picking up poop until they learn.” I really loved that answer and the images of evildoers picking up poop picked up my spirits.
When the last question was asked, Swami G rose and left the room, bowing and thanking us for the thoughtful questions. I helped Eric clean up and was about to leave when Swami G walked back into the room and put his hand on my shoulder. “The Universe is smiling on you,” he said and handed me a card with his name and phone number. “Call me, I have a message for you that the Universe wants delivered, but this is not the time or place.”
Curious, but somewhat anxious, I waited four days before I called. I started to say my name and he said, “I know who it is my child, the Universe has been waiting to hear from you.” I tried to say something but could not frame the words in my mouth. “You need not speak my child, I will tell you what I have been told to say and you may go your way. Your real mother was a creature of the sea, a Selkie, half seal, half woman. Your father is the one you know, he was on his way home from Germany after the war and stopped in Ireland to visit the seaside village where his mother was born. Despite having a wife back in Minnesota, he fell passionately in love with a beautiful woman named Airmid and she seduced him into making love with her. The result of that union was you. He wrote his wife, the woman you know as your mother, and told her that he was leaving her to be with Airmid. The day that you were born she told him that she must find her skin and return to the sea until you were ready to join her. Then she left and was never seen again. Some in Ireland choose to believe that Selkies are mythical but they do exist and they live to create babies that are fully human. When they mate with a human and create a child, they are called to return to the sea.”
“Wait Swami G, are you saying that I am a Selkie? That is not possible, I am fifty years old and have no children. I love the ocean but I never wanted to live in it.” I was trying to exercise my Minnesota nice and not tell him he was full of poop. He giggled and said, yes he understood, but there was a reason for that. He said “ your father was so angry when Airmid left him and the villagers told him the story of the Selkie that he swore he would do everything possible to make sure that fate did not happen to you. He took you home to Minnesota, as far from the ocean as he could and when you were twelve years old he paid a doctor to sterilize you so that you would not be able to have children. He felt that it was the birthing that triggered the desire to return to the sea.”
Not believing a word he said and knowing that my father would never do anything like that, I said, “But, you said that the Universe was smiling on me, this is terrible.”
“Not so,” he went on, “You found me and I am here to tell you what you must do to truly live the life you were meant to live.”
“I am supposed to live the rest of my life as a seal, I don’t think so.”
“Not to worry, you can no longer be called to a life in the sea, but you are needed in Ireland. You must return to that seaside village and start an orphanage for Selkie babies, you are an example that will show them that they do not have to make babies and then return to the sea. You can teach them that they have freewill and can choose a different life than the one their mothers whispered in their ears on the day they were born.”
I was starting to feel sick and dizzy and yet I truly did not believe a word he said. I thanked him for his message and hung up the phone. I wanted to call everyone I knew and tell them about this crazy story, yet I could not make myself do it. I called my doctor and asked if there was any way she could tell if I was sterilized. She said that she could order an ultrasound but I would have to pay for it myself since it was not medically necessary. I tried for twenty years with Boyd to have a baby. Boyd died in my late thirties and the desire died with him.
My father, mother and grandparents were all dead. I called my fathers sister and asked if my father brought me back from Ireland after the war. She asked me if I was doing drugs. My mother’s cousin was the only one left in her family, she was eighteen years younger than my mother and told me that she was never told anything about me not being her real baby. I had my birth certificate with her name on it. I called an attorney friend of mine and asked if it was possible that it was wrong. She said that it was possible since it said that I was born at home. My mind was telling me that this was completely crazy but my heart was telling me to go to Ireland.