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Chapter 50: Session 50

I said, “But I had not planned it that way. I had not even thought that the man would simply evaporate. It is too much even for me. I just did a simple thing. I sat in the tree, with a drum, struck it loudly just so that he would take notice of what was happening and forget everything else in the world - and then I jumped to the ground.” And it was my usual practice. I had made many people run. In fact my grandmother used to say, “Perhaps this street is the only street in the town where nobody walks at night, except you.”

The other day someone was showing me a few car stickers. One was beautiful, it said, “Believe me, this road really belongs to me.” While reading that sticker I remembered the road that passed near my house. At least during the night I owned it. During the day it was a government road, but at night absolutely my own. Even today I cannot see that any road could be as silent as that road used to be at night.

But my father was so angry that he said, “Whatsoever happens I’m going to cut down this neem tree, and I’m going to finish this whole business that you have been doing.”

I said, “What business?” I was afraid about the nails because that was my only income. He was not aware of that, as he was saying, “This nasty business that you have been doing, making people afraid.and now that man’s family continuously haunts me. Every day somebody or other comes and asks me to do something. What can I do?”

I said, “I can at least give you the pants; that’s all that is left. And as far as the tree is concerned, I tell you nobody will be willing to cut it down.”

He said, “You don’t have to worry about that.”

I said, “I am not worrying. I am just making you aware so that you don’t waste your time.”

And after three days he called me to say, “You are really something. You told me nobody would cut down the tree. It is strange: I have asked all the people who might be able to cut the tree down - there are not many in this town, only a few woodcutters - but nobody is ready to do it. They all said, ‘No. What about the ghosts?’”

I said to him, “I told you before, I don’t know anybody in this town who will even touch the tree unless I decide to cut it down myself. But if you want I can find someone, but you will have to depend on me.”

He said, “I cannot depend on you because one never knows what you are planning. You may tell me you are going to cut down the tree but you could do something else. No, I cannot ask you to do it.”

That tree remained without anybody being ready to cut it down. I used to harass my poor father saying, “Dadda, what about the tree? It is still standing - I saw it this morning. Have you not found a woodcutter yet?”

And he would look everywhere to see that nobody was listening, then say to me, “Can’t you leave me alone?”

I said, “I rarely visit you. I come once in a while just to ask about that tree. You say that you cannot find a person to cut it down. I know you have been asking people, and I know that they have been refusing. I have also been asking them.”

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