Being so young the child was just little more than a blob of tentacles and a large bulbous head. Soon it would decide its gender and its engineered final form. Its soft mouth opened widely and round – a smile.
“Welcome,” it said.
“Thank you,” I and the monk said almost simultaneously.
“Good to see you again my friend.” It smiled at the monks, “and you too Kira. Come in I want to talk with you.”
To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. I followed the small creature into the room. There was a single human chair ready which it indicated to me. It climbed onto the table and curled its tentacles beneath him.
“I’m sorry I can’t offer you a drink,” it said, “but your death by exposure to our atmosphere would mean that nobody would ever visit me again.”
“Indeed,” I smiled.
It contorted its face into what was the equivalent of a smile, “I suppose you are wondering why I called you in here, rather than an actual follower.”
“To be honest I’m more surprised you seem to know who you are.”
“The Dalai Lama you mean?”
“I chose this reincarnation for a specific reason,” it said, “to be left alone.”
“For hundreds of years I have guided Buddhists but there is often hysteria. People do not always feel the need to improve themselves because I am here. I should have known the greatness of Dorje’s tenacity.”
“May I speak freely?”
He stroked the side of my helmet with one tentacle and held my head with two others. “Yes. That is why you’re here.”
“We travelled for three years to see you. I think they’ll want a few words.”
“Then I really haven’t got through to them,” it said. It smacked its limbs on the table. “The infinity and forever of the universe and they come to me. Time goes on, it never stops and a sentence from me will change little.”
“I have read everything, almost everything, you’ve ever written, from your first incarnation on and agreed with a lot of it and been inspired by it. You are a great being.”
“I thank you for the compliment,” it said, “but I don’t think you understand.” It buried its head in its tentacles. “Have you ever taken a class? Computing, music, anything?”
“Computing yes,” I said, “why?”
“Did you ever struggle with it?”
“Yes,” I said. I was confused but I knew the way Lamas used words. They could be quite subtle and I felt sure its point would become clear. It did.
“When that happened did your tutor take you through it or did he lean across you and do it for you.”
“If he had done that it would have meant I learned nothing.”
“Exactly!” it smiled. “That is what my followers are doing. They see me as the top of the mountain and they look up. However they need to climb the mountain.” He jumped down onto the floor. “Now I’ve tried to remove myself from worship. I first became female. Fundamentalists had a problem with that in the beginning so I figured I’d try this.”
I grimaced. It was enough.
“Even you are uncertain of speaking your mind.”
“I would say that acceptance of… a broadening of possibilities for your reincarnation was a good thing.”
“All things being equal, yes. I played on their wants and needs. The desire that the Dalai Lama be a man.”
“So you were, in effect, hoping they would be sexist or raciest?”
“Indeed,” it climbed back onto the table again. “Just when you think you know people. You think you know how fickle and reliably prejudice they can be – they surprise you.”
“That’s normally a good thing.”
“It is,” it agreed. “How can we convince the others.”
“Your vision is not clouded,” it said, “not as clouded in any case.”
“I will help, but I need to consider my air reserves.”’
“Then I will come to see you tomorrow.”
I left at that point. The monks still outside wanted a glimpse of the new Dalai Lama but did not get one. They would have stayed there all night but they too had to return for air. They asked me everything that had been said. I didn’t say exactly. I tried to think of something that could sound plausible. I suppose I was lucky. It seemed that the monks were not as well read as I was. I quoted some well chosen passages from various texts – even the odd bit of science fiction – and they seemed to buy it.
To be continued…