At Harvard they all wondered what was it like to have a mind like his. The ones who knew him well enough to know what he could do, the ones who had seen him in action. Like the week in which he had learned to read and speak basic Sanskrit. And the several months afterward in which he had memorized the Mahabharata and began threading it effortlessly into his conversation. They didn’t say so aloud. They didn’t like to admit it publicly that Robert Oppenheimer was so uncanny and they were so merely human. He didn’t seem to be capable of forgetting things. He remembered everything he ever read, everything he ever picked up in a seminar or a lecture hall or in conversation.
At first I only knew the more recent events, you had tried to kill my great grandfather, and when your murderous urges failed, my great grandfather dying of old age, you turned your attention to my mother. You have been able to injure my mother in unfathomable ways, eaten away at her psyche, ravishing her body and shattering my parents’ marriage, but you have not succeeded in pulling her completely under; so far she had kept her head above water, even on the days her mouth is submerged and her nose takes in water. Later you would tell me how it all started, long ago in Ireland with a tragedy involving our two families, but even you admitted maybe it went back even farther than this, before you were born or before you evolved to have the facility to think, to feel, to remember.
Gong Fa hated Captain Flavel the way she hated most white men, especially rich ones. But over the last few months, Flavel had become something else: a dying man. A rich, stubborn, selfish one, but still a dying one.
“So you know?”
“Know what?” Carol asked.
“That he believes Ben is the reincarnation of your mother.”
Carol put the journal down on the coffee table.
“Would you like some tea?”
“No thank you,” said Grace. “Where is Gabe?”
Carol’s eyes filled with tears.
The bride, though, catches his arm. “There will be dancing tonight after we clear away lunch! There’s a fiddler coming, an old man, tall as a scarecrow, he fought in the Revolutionary War! And a blind boy who toodles on a clarinet and a girl -- a girl! -- who taps and scratches on a drum. I saw them once, at the market, playing for pennies. And Eddy invited them to come and play for our wedding, later, when we dance. They seem very poor, and we’re going to give them supper too.”