As the Air Carries Aromas

The Story of Lucy

Talks with Mom

As usual, when he got home from work, Edgar went to the living room. He had to walk past Lucy’s bedroom to get there. He snapped open a can of beer and sat down for the Jets game. During the commercials he pushed mute on the control and talked to Lucy, his mom.

“I lost my job today, Lucy. The University let me go.”

A sad sigh fell through the silence.

“Oh, don’t get disturbed.” He pushed mute again and went back to the game.

Next commercial: “Mom…listen, I hated teaching Biology.” He opened another can of beer.

Her bedroom door slammed shut; Edgar watched an instant replay.

“Lucy, why you slamming the door again? They told me, ‘Not as many kids declaring the evolutionary major this year.’ Good! They don’t need me.”

Another beer and Edgar fell back in his chair and dozed off.

He woke when a framed photo of Lucy with her pet dog crashed on the floor.

“I kept tellin’ you, Lucy, you were going to break the glass. Now look what you done!” He frowned and drifted off to sleep again. Inside his eyelids he saw her watching him and she was crying.

Edgar gave up bathing and shaving. He had a supply of beer in the house. He often went into Lucy’s room to gaze at the jewelry box, the pearly comb, the silk gloves and hats, the dresser. He smiled as he examined the book case covered with part of an American flag. He noticed some things thrown to the floor. “Sorry if I trouble you, Mom. I’ll get another job.”

She never spoke but he knew she was there.

Charlie’s Visit

A few days passed. Charles knocked on the front door.

“Uncle Edgar, I know you’re in there. Open up,” cried Charles.

Edgar opened the door slowly.

“I e-mailed you…” Charles stopped talking and looked closely at Edgar. “Uncle Edgy, you look, uh, different. You okay?”

“Yes, listen, no one said you were coming,” Edgar closed the door. “Not invited.”

“Edgar, Edgar! What would Gramma Lucy say?” Charles shouted. ”I got no where to go. How can you do this?”

Charles pushed himself in and plunked down on the sofa. “Last summer I wasn’t welcome, either. Ha! Hey, Edgar, lighten up. It’s good to see you again.”

July flew by. Charles was mostly out skate boarding or reading books in the basement. He tried to stay out of his uncle’s way. Edgar was talking to himself, getting drunk and watching sports.

One evening, over take-out pizza, Charles talked with Edgar.

“Uncle Edgar, for a fact, dude, Gramma Lucille was some sort of a hippie.”

“Don’t talk like that,” said Edgar. “Mother was not a hippie.”

“Uncle Edgar, you know it.”

“Maybe a beatnick.”

“A hippie.”

“Shut up, Charlie!” Edgar threw his piece of pizza down on his plate.

“Please eat your pizza, Uncle Edgar.”

“Thank you!”

“She sure loved pets, huh…?”

“Oh, we must’ve kept a hundred pets over the years. Sometimes this house was like a zoo.”

“I sure do remember the baby alligators. Remember the messenger pigeons? Oh, and the baby monkey! Say, Edgar, why’d you choose Evolutionary Biology?”

“University level teaching,” said Edgar.

Darwin Rap

Edgar got up to serve them each some salad and sat down again. Charlie rolled his fingers on the table.

“There’s something I want to run by you,” Charles said, “just hear me out a sec, please.” Edgar yawned.

“What if a dog is not always just a dog? What if its soul reincarnates in another model, say a lion or a bull or an ape.”

“Only humans have souls,”

“Well you know there are some really dysfunctional humans, Edgar. At the same time there are some really intuitive type animals.”

“Yeah. So?”

“Now did you know that elephants have complex mourning rituals for their dead?”

“I read that.”

“Monarch butterflies fly from Northern America to Mexico to have offspring who migrate back exactly to where their parents came from!”

“What are you getting at?”

“So what if underneath it all, we’re just climbing a ladder of increased awareness? Spiritual Evolution. Uncle Edgie, what if that’s the real nine yards?

“Prove it to me.”

“Can you prove your evolution? Back in the day Darwin himself said there weren’t enough fossils that make a sequence. A hundred years later and paleontologists still don’t find enough true sequences to make it even a mathematical possibility.”

“We don’t need sequence anymore. We have Punctuated Equilibrium,” Edgar got more salad. “Extreme changes take place and dominate in spurts…”

“Sighing and moaning! I called up a brahmana priest friend of mine who came and recited some really fine mantras, sprinkled holy water, we blew conch shells. We did the house up pretty good, burned incense.”

“Sure. Of course, like the eyeball. One day it was blind, and in a spurt it could see,” replied Charles. “One day a blind DNA process gave birth to eyeballs and eardrums…”

Charles broke into rap,

“…If the first bird couldn’t soar, then his wings, what were they for?

Did he keep `em by his side, or take the cool wind as his ride?

When he migrated to the north, was there a map to take him forth?

Cranes, swans or butterflies, throughout the continental skies-

Don’t use a compass or GPS; so what’s your Darwin guess?”

“I don’t understand music,” said Edgar.

“Oh man… I don’t believe you,” Charlie was disgusted.

“Edgar, who in the heck you talk to at night?”

“Me? I don’t talk at night! Shut the hell up or I’ll send you home.”

“Easy, easy, Uncle Edgie. I was just playing with you…you’re still my favorite uncle,” Charles stood up. “I’m going to bed now. G’night.”

The Exorcism

Lying in bed that night Charles read from an old Sanskrit scripture he had found in the basement.

“…it is clearly described here that those who are in the mode of ignorance, in darkness, worship dead spirits. Sometimes people worship at the tomb of some dead man. Similarly, in remote villages in India there are worshippers of ghosts. Sometimes people go to a tree if they have knowledge that a ghost lives in a tree. They worship that tree and offer sacrifices.” -Bhagavad-gita, 8.25

Charles turned off the lamp but he was restless. How’d he make Edgar so mad?

Hmm…Edgar never leaves the house of his Mom, a dead person…the house still smells like her, a dead person….eleven years and he still keeps her stuff, a dead person. Edgar never leaves his Mama. Her soul could not leave though she died; him being so dependent, he her favorite. And her stuff never stays put in one place! Like he uses it or something weird, or she uses it? This must be the mode of darkness, like the book says. This is how they worship the ghosts!

From Lucy’s room came Edgar’s voice, “The kid’s got to go! He bothers me, Mom. He talks too much…”

Charles heard a moan. His heart sped up.

I can’t take this anymore. Tomorrow I’ll call a temple priest. I’ll ask the priest for some ritual…

Charles Expelled

The next evening Charles found Edgar in the garden. Charles apologized.

“Sorry I upset you last night, Edgar. I talk a lot. Anyway, I tidied up the place when you were out shopping today. Did you notice?”

“You did?”

“Yea, and you know, I did something else real special for you,” Charles said slowly,

It’s gonna help you out. Make the place better. Help you move on….”

“What, Charles?” Charles stepped closer to Edgar.

“Gramma Lucy’s been stayin’ here, hasn’t she Uncle Edgar? She never left this place, ain’t that right?”

Edgar stared at Charlie.

“Sorry Edgar. I called a temple. I asked for a Vedic priest to come out and do a ceremony to help her soul to be released.”

“What? What did you do?”

“Edgar. She loves you so much, but she needs to move on, it’s no good being a loose spirit with no body. Don’t she sound to you like she’s suffering?”


“Sighing and moaning! I called up a brahmana priest friend of mine who came and recited some really fine mantras, sprinkled holy water, we blew conch shells. We did the house up pretty good, burned incense.”

Edgar turned very pale.

“C’mon, Uncle Edgar, I think she liked it. She was my Gramma. I loved her… You’ll feel better too, now that her soul is liberated…”

Like a summer thunder storm, Edgar suddenly flew at his nephew with his fists. Charles ran out the gate.

He went back only to get his things and go home.

Emptied House

Edgar lamented that he had chased Charles off. “Why’d I do it, Mom?” he asked Lucy. “Your grandson…”

“Regarding animals, Joe, listen. What if a chimp is really not a chimp?"

But there was unusual quiet. Lucy’s lifetime collection of things was still. Edgar wept from time to time. He felt very confused: he lost his job and Lucy nearly at the same time.

Winter came and put its cold fingers on everything. Edgar had to shovel snow. He dug a path to the mailbox so he could get his unemployment checks. He packed most of Lucy’s things into the basement. Without the pearly comb, the jewelry box, the silk gloves and hats, Lucy’s room looked empty. Edgar found the Bhagavad-gita Charles had left laying open.

The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes on one kind of material body and then quits it to take another. -Bhagavad-gita 15.8

Edgar lost interest in everything, but he began to read the Sanskrit verses in the Bhagavad-gita.


By early Spring Edgar found a job at a high school teaching science. One day, Joe, a student he had taught at the University, knocked on the door.

“Good to see you, Dr. Sylvester. There’s something I need to ask you, if you don’t mind.”

“Go on, what?” said Edgar.

“The behavior lab is scaling down. Some of the primates we were studying have to go to good homes. I brought the best one to you.”

The smiling student unzipped the pocket of his back pack revealing the hairy head of a chimpanzee.

“Oh, my…”

“It’s just a child, Dr. Sylvester. I know you know how to take care of them. It’s either your house or the zoo.…”

“He’s a nice one, Joe,” Edgar put out his index finger and the chimp softly held it.

“Not a he, sir, a female.”

“What’s her name?”

“The guys at the lab named her ‘Lucy,’ after the hominid link, you know…”

Edgar quickly pulled his finger away.

“Lucy?” Tears sprang into Edgar’s eyes.

“The living entity in the material world… carries his different conceptions of life… from one body to another, just as the air carries aromas,” said the professor.

The chimp let out a little whimper. Joe and Edgar gazed at her small face.

“Regarding animals, Joe, listen. What if a chimp is really not a chimp?

Just what if it has a soul, like you or me, and the soul is simply trapped in the cage of a biological machine which happens to be non-human?”

Joe did not know what to say.

“Joe, how many fragrances have you smelled during your life?”

“Oh, thousands, I’d say…”

“Yes, everything from toothpaste to fresh roses. Did you ever see any of those smells?”

Joe shook his head.

“Have you ever seen a television signal?”

“No, can’t say I did.”

“Our spiritual destiny is not determined by our cells or RNA. The karma of transference is so fine, so subtle; it is compared to the air carrying an aroma. A ghost, for instance!”

The student stepped back.

“Wow, you’ve changed. They said you might be different…”

“Yes, actually,” Edgar laughed. “Now I am studying the realm of pure consciousness. According to the Vedas, all species on earth have ‘devolved’ from a pure state of transcendental splendor.”

“Well, professor you always were pretty random… Anyway, as we were discussing, sir, can you take the chimp, please? I think you like her.”

“Of course I like her. But it’s best you take her to the zoo.”


“Grown chimps make terrible pets. Big mess.”

Joe picked up Lucy’s chimp hand and waved it at Edgar.

“Does that mean good-bye?” Joe asked.

Suddenly the chimp wiggled out of the backpack and jumped through the doorway toward the bedroom. Joe laughed and chased after her.

“She likes it here…” Joe cried.

“Catch her!” called Edgar.

They ran into Lucy’s empty room where the chimp sat down in the middle of the floor and let out a high pitched scream. She shrieked and her whole body shook. They were afraid to approach her. She grabbed up a throw rug and threw it against the wall.

The chimp moved here and there in the room and looked everywhere. She turned a box of packed up items onto the floor. She found the pearly comb and went in a corner with it and whimpered. Tears appeared on her face.

Edgar was so startled by his own emotion he went in the living room and would not help Joe catch the chimp.

“Are you all right Dr. Sylvester? Don’t worry, I’ll just take her to the zoo,” Joe said. He let himself out the front door with Lucy in his arms.

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another, as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another.

“The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of senses.

“The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys or suffers under the spell of the modes of nature.

But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.

“The endeavoring transcendentalists who are trained in self-realization can see this clearly. But those who are not situated in self-realization cannot see what is taking place, though they may try to.”

-Bhagavad-gita 15.8-11

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