Chapter 10: We Disown Our Past
From the very childhood, everybody is condemned - whatever he says, whatever he does, it is never right. Naturally he becomes afraid of saying anything, of doing anything on his own. He is appreciated if he is obedient, he is appreciated if he follows the rules and the regulations made by others. Everybody appreciates him. This is the strategy: condemn the man if he is trying to stand on his own feet and appreciate the man if he is just an imitator. Naturally his inner seed, his potentiality, will never have a chance to grow.
I am reminded of my own childhood. The thing has become so ancient that nobody even questions it.. If I was sitting silently, somebody - and in India there are still big families, joint families; in my family there were at least fifty people - somebody was bound to come by and ask, “Why are you sitting silently?” Strange, I cannot sit silently, and if I make noise and jump around the house. “Are you mad? Why are you jumping around the house?” Seeing the situation I decided that it would be better to begin the fight from the very beginning. Because once you get caught with these people it will be very difficult to come out of the crowd.
My father was very much amazed; he said, “You never answer the question. On the contrary, you ask another question.”
I said, “I have figured it out: When I am sitting silently and you ask, ‘Why are you sitting silently?’ I will not answer. I will ask, ‘Why should I not sit silently? You have to answer. You are a grown-up man, experienced - I am just a child. You answer me - why should I not sit silently?’” The whole family by and by understood. “You cannot get any statement from this boy. He immediately turns the question around and you are in trouble.” They stopped asking me anything.
The situation came to the point that I might be sitting, and my mother would say, “I don’t see anybody in the house” - and I was sitting in front of her! “I need vegetables; somebody should go and fetch vegetables.”
I would say, “If I come to see somebody, I will inform you.” I was taken as almost absent. And I proved it - because unless you prove it, it is very difficult. In the beginning they used to send me: “Go to the market. It is the season of beautiful mangoes - bring mangoes.”
I would go to the shop with the worst mangoes and ask, “Just give me the worst ones and charge me for the best ones.”
Even those shopkeepers were amazed - “What kind of customer are you?”
I said, “What kind of customer? You have seen many customers.I am a unique customer.”
And the man was perfectly happy to give me the rotten and charge the price for the best. I would come home and give those rotten mangoes and say, “These are the best, and I have paid for them.” And they were stinking. My mother would say, “Just throw them out!”
I said, “Why throw them out? There is a beggar woman, I can go and give them to her.” Even the beggar woman would not accept them. She would say, “Never come to me, because whenever you come you bring something rotten. Throw them to the dogs.”