"Long Ago Voices"
by Jerry Vilhotti

Years ago my older brother Tommy Tom Tom, a future docta in psychology who would make house calls too analyzing most of us as latent homosexuals and lesbians, brought his college friend Raja up for the weekend and my older sister Alice in Wonderland got the message confused and so she called the newspaper The Burywater Simpleton to notify them that the Indian ambassador was visiting us and needless to say we kept getting calls from them to see if "Christian Mennon or Nehru" had arrived. Alice finally had to confess that she had gotten it all wrong; it was only a friend of her brother's who worked at the United Nations. They still kept calling; thinking we were hiding the truth from them.

I liked Raja and, besides his charm and quaint British accent, like all those well educated Indians in Gunga Din, I shall remember most though being the ten year old in the rumble seat of Tom's old coup - and Raja driving!

He had the most uncanny way of driving on the wrong side of the road when he became tired. Needless to say - it was very exciting for me but after the second incident that had us just squeaking by a big big truck Tom, who would land on peoples' lawns so bad a driver he was, would tell Raja he couldn't drive his car anymore - until he realized the USA drove on the right side! Raja called Tom a Joe nazi Macarthy bastard - in a very polluted way.

I often think of Raja driving in India on the Indian side of roads! And years later attending Harlem College known in certain circles as the Poor Man's Havaaaaad, where Bertrand Russell was not allowed to teach by the New York Supreme Court, where the likes of Edward G, one of the First Big Al Capone portrayers, Robinson, Jonas Salk, creator of a vaccine, that was invented long after Tom received his polio at six months old, Felix Frankfurter a supreme court justice who did not believe in selecting a President, Colin, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Powell graduated before me.

There I encountered another charming Indian guy with a British caste accent teaching our class in sociology but only some of us could understand about a third of what he was saying as he drove on with his lectures and others who couldn't understand a word thought it was another trick by the college and Alexander Hamilton's ghost, whose house was still standing on north campus when the area was home to the elite, to weed out half of their students by forcing everyone to take calculus and to show how "fair" Americans could be would give students three chances to pass.

I did it after my first flunk and it was a summer course - giving me six weeks to do what I couldn't pull off in five months - but the visiting professor from Spain feeling compassion for us told the class if we could connect calculus to a passion we had he would pass us - providing it all made sense.

I joined calculus to my love of writing and the literature I was trying to do then and now. I received a D and was able to graduate the college situated above the polluted Hudson river.

Thank you Mister Quintos, Raja and Mister Bombay, Mister Biology - who instructed future doctors who came up from Sunny Side College, though also situated a mile or so below us had in their brochures that they were nestled next to the unpolluted Hudson River - so good its biology department was and he passed me after reading a work of mine that was taken by Charles Angoff, editor then of a literary magazine, saying it was a bit unfair a student like me who was a liberal arts person going into sociology having to compete with those people wearing lights on their heads while dissecting big animals and so instead of flunking me gave me D and Mister G who headed the census bureau that year I was a census taker and after reading a few of my essays in sociology said I was either a genius or I think he said I was an idiot servant and gave me a B plus! I told him I wrote in the same sytanx my former tearchers did since they didn't believe my "race" could compete with their race and so I had to wait until college that guys like Davinci, Micheangelo, Dante, Titian, Nick Machiavelli ... were people of my race.

You know what to top it all off I lost that paper when literature copulated with calculus. I often wonder how I did such a thing! Anyway I still hear all those long ago voices of the past while driving on the USA side of the road in my mind.

END 1-20-09

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