Bread and Butter

White Spectral Worldbridger 3.30.17

The car is decidedly not mine despite having been left here for me with keys in the ignition that work. It’s navy blue, a station wagon like mine, but it has rails on the roof and it’s clean, shiny. The windows, including the windshield and rear window, all have levers to crack them open, which they are. The seats are beige leather and the dashboard is covered in a rust snakeskin of some sort.

“Going somewhere?” Baseer asks, while I walk around the car wondering what to do.

“Hmm, yes, I was, I was going somewhere but I’ve forgotten where it is I was going!”

“Get in, I’ll drive,” he says, “You don’t have your license.”

It’s true; it seems I’ve left my wallet behind on the kitchen counter on top of a stack with bread, cheese, and a pack of smokes. But he’s blind, and I can see, so I’ll drive without a license, really carefully. He shakes his head.

“Uh-uh, get in, I’m driving, you don’t have the license to drive right now,” he states and slips into the drivers seat. I get in beside him and fiddle with the dashboard, maybe my wallet’s in there and I‘ve forgotten that too? It’s not. I lean back with a sigh and listen to the car start up as he backs up onto the dusty road and begins driving on some long, windy road between rocky steps and slabs that shine from water seeping out of springs behind crevices in their nooks and crannies.

“What’s on your mind?” he asks.

There’s a car ahead of us. I can see the heads of a man and a woman arguing about something.

“Injustice,” I reply, “Racism and injustice. Their inter-relationship. How they come into being from prejudice, bigotry and intolerance; which on their own are neither racist nor unjust but reflections of a person’s perspective and viewpoint. Undesirable, limited, and what have you, but subjective and personal, part of who and where a person is . . . not racist nor unjust until the attitude becomes more than a reflection of a persons state of mind, and becomes how they behave toward others . . . .”

“Give me an example,” Baseer says.

The woman in the car ahead of us is arguing with the man about the bread he’s brought, bread he’s cooked with all the love in his heart. It has gluten in it, and has been brushed with butter. Doesn’t he know she’s gluten intolerant? Dairy free?

“Hmm, well here’s an example . . . for a long time, so my grandfather had a strict rule:: his children had to marry within the Iranian community, this preference based on his belief that Iranian’s are not only blood heritage, but this blood heritage was superior to what Pakistani’s and Indian’s had to offer as far as marriage and having a family and children went::perpetuating the blood line. Fair skinned Iranians were preferred over darker ones. Intellectual ones over the religious ones. He had many preferences and one could say these were biased, narrow in scope, limiting, and came from his belief about how he wanted his bloodline bred forward. In today’s world, this is called racial prejudice and is frowned upon. Now while I can see that it is biased, it is not unjust to hold a viewpoint, nor to deliberately make choices which by the nature of choosing one thing over another, involves discrimination. So this is an example of what is called bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance. But with this being his state of mind, he also tempered it, for it was specific to marriage. It did not apply to his friendships, who he employed, who he spoke with and how. It was applied with great deliberation to marriage and that is all. I don’t consider this to be racism, nor injustice. At the end of the day, he had this strict rule, which he laid down, and it was up to you to follow through and do something contrary to it, based on your free will. He’d frown, scowl, and be ill tempered about it . . . but he wasn’t going to behave with indignity or come burning down your house, spitting in your path, or harming you because of your choice. It simply wasn’t the choice he would make for you, but recognized that you could choose for yourself . . . against his wishes! That was the push, the door that challenged:: how badly do you want to make this other choice? Seems like, aside from my mother, nobody really wanted anything badly enough to cross him, cross over, make choices and discover what would happen. This is injustice to oneself based on the response to another person’s subjectivity, but all these are elements crucial to life and adaptability, evolving. It becomes racist when it has you making choices that are unjust, such as not employing people based on their color, injuring people based on how they look, deriding and belittling people based on their appearance; all these ways that involve direct measures, action, actively engaging with people in ways that willfully and intentionally and knowingly cause them harm because of where they’re from and what they look like::that is racism and that is unjust::they go hand in hand. And certainly a mind that leans toward bigotry or is unaware of its own prejudice as being simply that, is a mind easily manipulated toward furthering injustice and eventually is how we even get to racism. Preference alone is neither unjust nor racist, it’s an opinion and subjective, and as such subject even to change.”

“Not everybody sees what you do,” says Baseer.

I laugh as I look over at him. I see a blind man driving as though he has perfect sight, yet he cannot gaze upon the sea that is now rolling up white waves crashing surf down below the edge of the winding road: the rock slabs have descended down and formed cliffs, the smell of salt comes in through the cracked windows, and he drives on into the rain.

“The couple ahead of us, they’re a different example,” I say, “She eats intolerance. Many people today have suppressed their human inclinations and natural preferences in order to be in order with what is determined to be proper and moral and righteous . . . even when it is not . . . then all their intolerances come to the surface as responses to food::that they are intolerant to, have chosen to believe they are allergic to; picking with intention intolerance and allergy as a state of mind and body.

She’s arguing with the man about the bread having gluten, the butter having dairy. She’s intolerant to these things. How can he have done such a thing as bring food that she cannot eat, it’s rude and disrespectful of him! He’s arguing that she’s not as intolerant as she thinks she is, if she just has a bit she’ll find out, he made it all himself, from scratch, walked about and picked the onion grasses and flowers for the top, for her. . . it’s sourdough with untreated wholesome flour, butter made with cream from fresh milked pastured cows also living the good life, chemical free . . . if she just has a bit, she’ll discover it’s all in her head; there is glutenous food and dairy that she won’t be intolerant of, it’s all about the source, where it comes from, she just has to dig a little deeper or else live intolerantly forever! Doesn’t she want to try, it’s so delicious! All his love for her went into its making, his gift to break bread with her!  That’s what’s going on in the car ahead Baseer, and it’s not racist or unjust but it becomes a springboard from where those things could grow . . .”

The car ahead comes to a sudden stop in the middle of the road. The couple jump out and we listen to the woman screaming at the man. She cannot be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t respect her and how dare he say he loves her? He’s not offering love, as far as she’s concerned their relationship is over because he refuses to accept that she is allergic to gluten and dairy alright?! He’s shaking his head and reaches out to touch her but she shrugs his arm off, her body her rights her space, how dare he! He looks dazed and confused, how did they get to this point over bread and butter he’s wondering as she screams at him about butter coming from milk, milk, milk, doesn’t he know she won’t eat cow, Cow is holy holy holy, sacred? What is he a racist or something, mocking her Indian heritage, he knows she’s Hindu, yet he offers her butter, she eats ghee, no dairy, no milk, no cow! Racist pig, she yells, shaking her hand at him. He’s hurt, none of what she says is true, how did she jump to racist pig from bread brushed with butter? His mind is slow, his head is beginning to ache. “Take me home,” she commands, and they both get in the car, turn around and go back the way they came.

Baseer drives forward now that their temporary roadblock has cleared. I wonder what’ll become of them. I know from hearing his thoughts, he’s not a racist, nor a pig, but quite in love with the woman, totally bewildered by her conduct, and unsure how to proceed. He’s wondering whether he made a mistake in following his instinct in pursuing a relationship with her, smitten as he was, but is she really as she had appeared at first, has she changed? When did she become so narrow minded, unwilling to explore new ways of thinking . . . . I wonder whether most relationships are like that, beginning with a surge up rising excitement and slowly dwindling the fire goes out and it’s stale and people walk away from their joined cocreated circumstance rather than accept that it’s part of a whole that’s further down the road, undiscovered, just a rock along the trail, climb over it and keep going . . . instead they seem to go apart and separate over and over, deepening their intolerances, thoughts, distance, until chasms become created and next thing you know bread and butter’s enough to make you a racist pig, no ‘injustice’ involved.

I fall asleep while Baseer has the wheel, no dreams, and just deep restful sleep. I wake up when the car stops moving. He’s leaning in at my window and smiles at me.

“Here,” he says, tossing me my wallet, “I’m going to walk now. See you later.”

I watch him grow smaller as he strides off at a brisk pace and open my wallet. My driver’s license is inside. I get out to walk around to the driver’s side. The car is dusty, navy blue, no rack or rails on top. I get in my seat and see they’re grey upholstery, the dashboard is a dark grey plastic. No levers on the windows or windshields. I smile as I adjust the rearview mirror and turn the key in the ignition. Brroom broom, I’m off and away once more, living in trust that though I may have answers and questions that don’t solve or resolve anything, don’t save the world, I am my own salvation, and in this moment that is enough for me.

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