"Listen, hen, you'll never guess whit. They've found the new lama."
"Oh." Ah hadnae a scooby whit he wis on aboot.
"You know, the heid Rinpoche's successor, the wan they'll train up when he moves on."
"Oh, very good."
Ma ma had appeared at the door, where she stood wi her airms foldit, and that voice, where she sounds like she's been tae elocution lessons, rang through the room. She disnae dae it very often but usually it has a magical effect on ma da. But the day he never even noticed the sarcasm.
"Aye, hen, isn't it amazin?"
"Amazin! It's flamin incredible."
Ma da kept gaun. "They want me tae go wi them tae talk tae the faimly and help them break the news. Explain aboot the trainin programme and that, how they'll take him away when he's a wee bit aulder, teach him aw the chantin an prayers and that. Thought it might come better fae a Glaswegian, you know."
"Jimmy, you really are wired tae the moon."
Daddy just stood there, starin at her.
"Look, ah've got nothin against you meditatin, and the lamas seem like very nice people."
She smiled at the three wee guys, who smiled back. Then she tumt tae ma da and she wisnae smilin.
"But if you think that ah'm gonnae sit by and watch you make a complete laughin stock of yersel in fronty strangers, you've got another think comin."
"Jimmy, get a grip, for godsake. Whit on earth are these folk gonnae think when you turn up and tell them their wean's the new Dalai Lama? The best you can hope fur is that they call the polls, the worst is that you'll get yer heid kicked in."
"You don't unnerstaund . . . it's no the Dalai Lama, it's the lineage of . . ."
"Ah unnerstaund wan thing right enough, Jimmy --- you're no gaun wi them tae Carmunnock."
"But, hen . . ."
She marched oot the room.
Five seconds later she opened the door, grabbed me and dragged me intae the lobby.
"Anne Marie, you go wi him."
"Don't let him oot yer sight."
"Do you think he's gonnae go tae Carmunnock?"
"Of course he's gonnae go --- when did he ever show any sense in his life?"
"Could you no go wi him?"
"Don't be daft --- how can ah efter whit ah just said? But ah don't want him heidin aff by hissel wi they lamas. He'll get murdert."
So the next thing there ah wis in the back of the van sittin on a pile of auld blankets wi Hammy and Ally, cross-legged wi their prayer beads clickin away like knittin needles. Every time the van tumt a comer or hit a bump on the road the three of us shoogled thegither and they bowed in apology then giggled. Sammy sat in the front tryin tae navigate wi a streetmap of Glesga.
You'd think by the number of roads that lead tae it, Carmunnock wis the Mecca of the west a Scotland. You can get there fae Castlemilk, Cathkin, Clarkston or Croftfoot. Or you can dae whit ma da done and drive roond and roond the Carmunnock bypass missin every turn.
"Ya bastard! Oh, sorry, Rinpoche."
"OK, Jimmy. What about this --- could this be it?"
"Aw naw, Clarkston again. Whit is it wi these soothsiders, every bloody place has got tae stert wi a C --- sorry, Rinpoche."
Between his map-readin and ma da's drivin it wis a miracle we got there, but then ah suppose if you're a lama a miracle isnae oot the ordinary. Though, frankly, ah don't think it was worth the effort. After aw they roads, signposts, and a bypass that took us an hour tae get roond, at the endy it, Carmunnock's this funny wee place wi aboot four streets. The hoose we were lookin for was in a cul-de-sac. It wis a hoose, no a flat, nothin very special aboot it, except that they had they net curtains, know the kind that cross ower and tie back? And they were pink, bright pink. Ah don't know why but somehow that made me feel better. Would folk that put up bright pink net curtains be the sort that would beat ma da tae a pulp?
"Right, Rinpoche, this is it. Anne Marie, you stay in the van."
"Da, ah'm comin with yous. Ma ma said . . ."
"Look, hen, it's for your ain safety. Just in the unlikely event of there bein any bother."
"I think she should come, Jimmy," said Sammy. "If the parents see that you are also a father, they will be more likely to listen to you."
Ma da nodded. "Aye, see whit you mean, Lama. But just keep yer mooth shut, wee yin."
A wumman opened the door.
"We're here tae see the baby," says ma da.
"Oh, aye, come on in. She's sleepin the noo. Ah'm Sharon's mammy, she's just gone oot tae the shops, she'll be back soon. Sorry, son, ah don't think ah know you, you're . . . ?"
She set aff doon the lobby wi us followin on behind. She paid nae heed tae the lamas, just kept chunterin on.
"You'll be a pal of Tommy's, then? Ah'm lossin track of who everybody is. This place has been like Central Station all week, ah cannae believe the number of folk that have been tae see this wean. Ah'd forgotten whit it wis like when the first wan's born. Aw the lassies fae Sharon's work came roon yesterday --- therteen of them there wis, you should of seen the presents they brung. That wean'll get spoilt rotten. At least tae the next wan comes alang. Sharon'll no know whit's hit her then. She thinks this is hard work. Wait tae she's had four or five --- her man'll no even bother tae visit her."
She opened the door of the livin room and we trooped in. In the middle of the flair wis a Moses basket, draped in pink frilly covers.
"Whit did they cry the wean?" says ma da.
"Olivia," says the wifie.
"Olivia. At's nice."
"Aye, it's a nice enough name but ah don't know how they couldnae have cried her efter sumbdy in the faimly. Still, young yins nooadays, dae things their ain way."
"Wan week the day."
We all stared at the baby, well no at her exactly since you could only see a glimpse of skin between the frilly stuff and a wee white hat. Ah wondered when ma da was gonnae start his speil aboot the wean bein the new lama. He shuffled fae wan foot tae the ither, lookin at the lamas, who stood smilin at the wean in the cradle.
Then she opened her eyes and looked at us. Ah've never seen a newbom baby afore and ah thought they couldnae focus, yet this wee yin looked straight at us as if she knew everythin, could see right through you.
"Bright as a wee button, in't she?" says the granny.
"That wean has been here afore," ma da says solemnly.
At this, the wee lama pipes up. "Yes, he is the reincarnation of the twenty-ninth lama of the lineage of the Gyatso Luckche dynasty."
The wifie nods at him. "Whit's he on?"
"It's a bit complicated. You see, they're lamas, fae Tibet. And wee Olivia, has been picked by them tae . . . well, she's very special."
"You can say that again," says the granny. "She's a beautiful wean, right enough, good as gold. Never cries."
"His nature is like the bright sun. One of the signs," says Ally.
"But whit is it she's been picked for? Sharon wis gonnae enter her for that Evenin Times Beautiful Baby competition, but ah don't think the closin date's tae next week."
"Well, no, it's no exactly a beauty competition. It's mair . . . spiritual beauty."
"Spiritual beauty?" The wifie looked at the lamas, her eyes narrowin a bit.
"His spirit is clear like running water," says Hammy, and the others nodded.
"Haud on a minute. Whit's gaun on here? Who are these guys?"
"They're lamas, holy men."
"Are yous anythin tae dae wi the Mormons?"
"Perhaps, Jimmy, you could explain the lineage of this beautiful boy whose eyes are like stars which will light the world."
Ah wis beginnin tae get fed up wi this stuff.
"Perhaps, Da, you could explain tae the lamas that a wean in a cot wi pink frilly covers isnae a boy."
"Not a boy?"
"Naw, Rinpoche, it's a wee lassie, Olivia ... ah thought you . . . surely it disnae make any difference?"
Ally shook his heid. "I'm very sorry, Jimmy, but the baby we are looking for is a boy." He turned tae the wifie and bowed. "We are very sorry but this baby is not the one. Please accept our blessing." He took his prayer beads and waved them above the wean's heid, mutterin some stuff ah couldnae unnerstaund, then the lamas turnt roond and heided towards the door. At this point Olivia decided she'd had enough and let oot a roar.
"Haud on, whit d'yous think you're daein? You've made the wean greet, wavin they rosary beads in her face."
She tumt tae ma da. "And as for you, ah don't know whit the hell you're up tae but it's no funny. Tommy'll kill you if he funds oot --- he's a good Protestant, so he is."
"Let's get ooty here, Da." Ah startit tae push him up the lobby. "Sorry, Missus, he didnae mean any herm."--- From Buddha Da
©2004, Carroll & Graf