greum maol stevenson

living, thinking, writing in glasgow

The Strange Case of the Disappearing Buddha

December 14, 2022

Today, as i was heading out for a walk, i started to bow to the Buddha statue that sat on the little table outside the door of our flat along with a vase of flowers... but the statue was not there. I called to daishin, who came outside, and we both burst out laughing.

It is not the first time this has happened.

In the first decade of this century, i had a Buddha statue that sat outside the front door of each of the different places i lived in for a few years. In 2007, in Phoenix, Arizona, i got home one night, and it was gone.

My first reaction was to laugh, and then to feel a strange affection for the thief. Who was it? The tweaker neighbour? One of his many friends who came and went? And why the Buddha? Why not one of the porch ornaments from the people who lived downstairs? Did the person steal the statue because they were drawn to the image, or because they thought they could sell it (good luck; it was not expensive)? Though there was a certain annoyance, i could not help but feel glad that someone wanted it, whatever the reason, and i wished good things for whoever it ended up with.

As i stood looking at the spot next to the door where the statue had been, the tweaker neighbour emerged from the darkness behind me, shirtless.

"Hey," i said.

"Hey, bro." Twitch, twitch, twitch. "What's up?"

"Have you seen the Buddha statue i had sitting here?"

"It wasn't me, bro!"

I just looked at him and smiled and did not say anything. He twitched back into the hot darkness.

I looked at the empty spot by my door again, bowed to it, and went into my apartment.

Then and now, a thief took a statue from outside our door, but the Buddha is still there. He is the empty space. He is tweaking in a desert city 15 years ago, he is now somewhere in the Wyndford with a stolen soapstone statue, he is typing these words, and he is reading them through your eyes.

a scan of greum's chop

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