The Words of Guru by C. M. Kornbluth

The Words of Guru C M Kornbluth

The Words of Guru C M Kornbluth

YESTERDAY, when I was going to meet Guru in the woods a man stopped me and said: “Child, what are you doing out at one in the morning? Does your mother know where you are? How old are you, walking around this late?” I looked at him, and saw that he was white-haired, so I laughed. Old men never see; in fact men hardly see at all. Sometimes young women see part, but men rarely ever see at all. “I’m twelve on my next birthday,” I said. And then, because I would not let him live to tell people, I said, “and I’m out this late to see Guru.” “Guru?” he asked. “Who is Guru? Some foreigner, I suppose? Bad business mixing with foreigners, young fellow. Who is Guru?” So I told him who Guru was, and just as he began talking about cheap magazines and fairy tales I said one of the words that Guru taught me and he stopped talking. Because he was an old man and his joints were stiff he didn’t crumple up but fell in one piece, hitting his head on the stone. Then I went on. Even though I’m going to be only twelve on my next birthday I know many things that old people don’t. And I remember things that other boys can’t. I remember being born out of darkness, and I remember the noises that people made about me. Then when I was two months old I began to understand that the noises meant things like the things that were going on inside my head. I found out that I

could make the noises too, and everybody was very much surprised. “Talking!” they said, again and again. “And so very young! Clara, what do you make of it?” Clara was my mother. And Clara would say: “I’m sure I don’t know. There never was any genius in my family, and I’m sure there was none in Joe’s.” Joe was my father. Once Clara showed me a man I had never seen before, and told me that he was a reporter-that he wrote things in newspapers. The reporter tried to talk to me as if I were an ordinary baby; I didn’t even answer him, but just kept looking at him until his eyes fell and he went away. Later Clara scolded me and read me a little piece in the reporter’s newspaper that was supposed to be funny-about the reporter asking me very complicated questions and me answering with baby noises. It was not true, of course. I didn’t say a word to the reporter, and he didn’t ask me even one of the questions. I heard her read the little piece, but while I listened I was watching the slug crawling on the wall. When Clara was finished I asked her: “What is that grey thing?” She looked where I pointed, but couldn’t see it. “What grey thing, Peter?” she asked. I had her call me by my whole name, Peter, instead of anything silly like Petey. “What grey thing?” “It’s as big as your hand, Clara, but soft. I don’t think it has any bones at all. It’s crawling up, but I don’t see any face on the top-wards side. And there aren’t any legs.” I think she was worried, but she tried to baby me by putting her hand on the wall and trying to find out where it was. I called out whether she was right or left of the thing. Finally she put her hand right through the slug. And then I realized that she really couldn’t see it, and didn’t believe it was there. I stopped talking about it then and only asked her a few days later: “Clara, what do you call a thing which one person can see and another person can’t?” “An illusion, Peter,” she said. “If that’s what you mean.” I said nothing, but let her put me to bed as usual, but when she turned out the light and went away I waited a little while and then called out softly. “Illusion! Illusion!” At once Guru came for the first time. He bowed, the way he always has since, and said: “I have been waiting.” “I didn’t know that was the way to call you,” I said.

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Categories: C M Kornbluth