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The Rolling Saint

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Lotan Baba, a holy man from India, rolled on his side for
            four thousand kilometers across the country in his quest for
            world peace and eternal salvation.                                                     
                                                                —Reuters

He started small: fasting here and there,
days, then weeks. Once, he stood under
a banyan tree for a full seven years, sitting
            for nothing—not even to sleep. It came
            to him in a dream: You must roll
            on this earth, spin your heart in rain,
                        desert, dust. At sunrise he’d stretch, swab
                        any cuts from the day before, and lay prone
                        on the road while his twelve men swept
            the ground in front of him with sisal brooms.
            Even monkeys stopped and stared at this man
            rolling through puddles, past storefronts
where children would throw him pieces
of butter candy he’d try and catch
in his mouth at each rotation. His men
            swept and sang, swept and sang
            of jasmine-throated angels
            and pineapple slices in kulfi cream.
                        He rolled and rolled. Sometimes
                        in his dizzying spins, he thought
                        he heard God. A whisper, but still.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, "The Rolling Saint" from Miracle Fruit. Copyright © 2003 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil.  Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press.
Source: Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003)
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The Rolling Saint

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