Beyond the beyond

Fayes T Kantawala communicates across all sorts of borders - but even he draws the line somewhere

Beyond the beyond
I usually get about five or six letters from readers every week. I had initially been hesitant to add my email below the column when I started it back in 2011 because you never know what might crawl out of your inbox once it’s been published online. But since that time I have received letters that have led to true friendships and real connections. The letters are nearly always generous and thoughtfully kind. Some write to me to ask about a trip I’ve taken, or get advice about where to go. One person wrote to me to say that they can’t go to the loo on Friday mornings without reading this space, which I take as the highest compliment. Over the years that I have facilitated your morning movements, I can name three things that I get asked the most.

The first is whether I am Parsi. (I am not, sadly, a Parsi but I am a huge fan of the descriptive last name – Daroowala is a personal favourite.) The second type of letter comes from across the border whenever I mention a whisper of the word “India”. Sometimes it feels as if the entire country has a Google alert set for the name. The emails are overwhelmingly kind for the most part, and really the only exceptions were when I went to Bombay for a few months and wrote about my experiences there. This offended a lot of people, though I can’t imagine why. In my short time there, I was on the receiving end of no less than 96 irate emails telling me to “Go back to Pakistan!” My reply “Believe me, I’m trying!” didn’t go down well and I’ve now made peace with the fact that whenever I mention India, Indians will write to me about it.

But by far, the question that I receive the most – at least 3 times a week, every week – is about the Lahori psychic Komal Tariq. How did I get her number? Can I send it to them? Do I have recommendations for psychics in other cities? No judgement really, because it does take a bit of doing to get her info, to be honest. (And for the record, no, I don’t have her number)

I have a dissonant relationship with psychics, and indeed with the occult in general. I believe that I don’t believe in the occult. None of it. Not in the existence of faeries, or genies, or black magic, or white. But then I’ve been to dozens of psychics and continue to go. On the surface I don’t believe in astrology or that Jupiter spinning in its orbit affects my life in the slightest, and yet the first thing I check in the morning is my horoscope. Numerology makes no rational sense to me, and yet I know what my Destiny number is – and also that I am on my last cycle of incarnation. I do not think that a deck of picture cards can tell me what’s going to happen in my life, but when I get the Tower as an outcome in my Celtic cross Tarot spreads, I feel worried. Why is that so? How is it that while most of me is a thinking, hyper-rational personality, I still wear a turquoise around my neck because someone once told me it’s a “good stone for your chakras”?

I suppose that even though I don’t believe it, I do believe that I want it to be true. It’s a coping mechanism, a form of faith, if you will. It makes you feel heard, known, loved, guided. Small allowances to these unknown energies are comforting to me because even as I believe that we are all just atoms spinning around in a chaotic, unplanned universe, I also choose to believe that my life has a purpose that I am here to fulfill. It helps me sleep at night.

The only thing I draw the line at is ghosts. That’s just silly and I don’t entertain it. In all my time I have never seen any inkling that the dead would want to remain among us. It’s particularly infuriating to me that people think spirits attach themselves to things like Rolex watches or houses (or graves – who would spend any time at their grave if they could be floating in Seville or over a Caribbean beach?). A friend of mine in England has a family house that bills itself as the Most Haunted House in England. People pay to go on tours there and spend extra to stay the night, waiting up well past midnight to see “the little girl of 1764” but is most probably the shadow of a cat vomiting in a corner. No one asks the proper questions: Why would a spirit chose to stay in a haunted house anyway, which would – by definition – be corporally crowded with spirits anyway? Why not go for somewhere less busy? And while we are on the subject, why is it that ghosts are always from some long-distant past, wearing silk ruffles and carrying swords in bloody hands? If things like hauntings are true, why is there never a ghost from a recent time? Why don’t we ever hear about a ghost from, say, 2007 – one that dresses in a juicy couture velvet jumpsuit and whispers “It’s Britney, B*tch” into the ears of the unsuspecting?

No, ghosts are just silly. Any tarot will tell you that.

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