Colin Turnbull

 Press Release

In the Arms of Africa

From Chapter One, Pygmalion

Through Kenge, Colin realized a total and consuming passion for both the forest and the Pygmies who lived there, and he would remember the night he saw Kenge dance in the moonlight as a revelation. For it was on that night, amidst the music and the effervescence, in a momentary vision and a brief conversation, that he became convinced of the human capacity for love and for goodness.

From Chapter Two, The Wizard (1924 - 1930)

For Colin, that early mother-child bond among the Mbuti was the best model for future relationships with family, friends, and lovers; only when that bond was absent did children and parents find themselves in conflict, with both sides feeling rejected and worthless. Then, in the absence of that bond and when it was already too late, love had to be demanded; then love became the burden Colin knew so well. "What would we lose," he once asked, "if we gave our children something different, something of what the Mbuti have to teach us about motherhood?"

From Chapter Three, Hothouse (1930 - 1942)

Colin had a jeweled soul, a deep, almost melancholic consciousness of the riches that could be found in music, conversation, churches, and the Scottish countryside, a consciousness his teachers wanted him to abandon. His report cards complained of a lack of aggression. One read, "Colin cannot stand up in the boxing ring and take his punishment like a man. He must learn to assert himself."

From Chapter Four, Class (1942-1949)

Colin loved men in the navy, despite the risks . . . but this was not a coming out. That would never happen because Colin was what today would be called pre-gay. He loved men without claiming a certain sexual identity and during the 1960s, when the term "gay" gained popularity, he refused to use it. He was not interested in being "gay" anymore than he was interested in being "British."

From Chapter Five, The Flute of Krishna (1949-1951)

Anandamayi Ma taught him that there was only that which Colin made real for himself. She also taught him that something beautiful and pure can emerge from something ordinary, inconspicuous or ugly, like a lotus growing up from the mud, its beauty and purity unsullied by its origin. Truth could be found in the the most unexpected places, in the mountaintops of India or in the temples and ashrams, but perhaps just as likely on a river bank, a city slum, or a farmer's field. It might even be found in one person -- someone Colin might someday meet -- in whom, deep inside, there was a brilliant light, an inner truth, struggling to blossom.

Sri Aurobindo's ashram consisted of offices, a library, a meditation hall, dining area, guest quarters, and a private residence for the guru and an elderly French woman called Mother . With wild hair and a dictatorial style, she ran the place. All communication with Aurobindo had to go directly through her. Mother, originally named Mirra Alfassa, was born in Paris in 1878, just six months before Aurobindo's birth in Calcutta. She was frightening and spellbinding. Despite her age, she played a good game of tennis and encouraged everyone to exercise. She failed Colin in calisthenics and suggested he did not have the physical strength to withstand the power of the Divine when it descended. In a strange way she completed Aurobindo,for in her extraordinary strength as a presence, as an administrator, as an athlete, she was the secular and worldly manifestation of his sacred, spiritual power.

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© 2000 Roy Richard Grinker