26. The Great Cake Scandal

On our Christmas trip to South Africa, Subarata achieved considerable notoriety by planting someone’s birthday cake in my face, in front of all the disciples!

During an afternoon function, Guru had invited husbands and wives who were present to tell amusing stories about each other – how he enjoyed these occasions! – and Subarata responded with enthusiasm, regaling us all with many amusing anecdotes about my quirkiness. Guru passed me on his way out of the function room, shared a huge, consoling smile and encouraged me to write down a few embarrassing stories about Subarata, telling me that he would personally read them out during the evening function. He added that I could exaggerate as much as I liked, although I knew that would not be necessary – I had plenty of ammunition!

But that night, instead of reading out my malicious tales himself, Guru invited me to read them. This proved my undoing!  Many who were absent from the afternoon function probably felt I had launched an unprovoked attack on Subarata’s good name. My tales evoked unbridled cheers from the boys but a disapproving silence from the girls.

Halfway through my stories, Subarata and one of her friends advanced on me with a concealed cream cake in hand, only to launch it into my face! Standing there covered in cream, I felt like somebody from a vaudeville show, only my eyes and mouth visible in a mask of white. Still covered in birthday cake and lashings of cream, I was invited to read one or two more stories, and so battled on.

Later, speculation abounded over a marriage in trouble and divorce, and the incident was narrated even to disciples in remote parts of Russia. Months later, disciples from faraway places were still coming up to me and saying, “Are you the one who got the cake in the face?”

The next day Guru said, “You two gave me so much joy last night!” So, finally we were happy to learn that Guru had enjoyed this small incident.