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Chapter 17: The Child Is Still within You

Then the milkman happened to see me.. People used to bring milk from small villages, and he had come a little earlier than usual, so he had never met me before. Carrying his buckets of milk, he suddenly saw me. I must have been under the shadow of the bamboos, and when he came close to the shadow where there was a small patch of moonlight, I suddenly came out, jogging backwards. He shouted, “My God!” dropped both his buckets, and ran away.

Still, I did not realize that he was afraid of me, I thought he was afraid of something else. So I took both his buckets, although the milk was gone.. I thought I should at least give him his buckets, so I ran after him. Seeing me coming.I have never seen anybody run so fast! He could have been a world champion in any race. I was very surprised. I was shouting, “Wait!” and he looked back, and without saying anything..

The whole scene was being watched by the gatekeeper of the rich man. He told me, “You will kill him.”

I said, “I am simply going to return his buckets.”

He said, “You leave the buckets with me; when the sun rises he will come. But don’t do such things - sometimes you make me afraid too, but because I know.. For years I have been seeing you doing all kinds of strange things on this street, but sometimes I become afraid; I think: who knows whether it is really you or a ghost coming backwards towards me? Sometimes I close the gate and go inside; I keep my gun always loaded because of you!”

I said, “You should understand one thing, that if I am a ghost, your gun will be useless - you cannot kill a ghost with a bullet. So don’t ever use it, because a ghost will not be affected by it; but if a real man is there, you may be arrested as a murderer.”

He said, “That’s true. That I never thought about, that ghosts..” And right in front of me, he took out all the bullets. He said, “Sometimes the fear is so great.I may shoot some man and kill him.”

I said, “Just look at me: first be certain whether I am a real man or a ghost. You are taking your bullets out, and it may be just a ghost who is persuading you!”

He said, “What.?” And he started putting the bullets back in his gun.

I said, “You keep these two buckets.” I remained for almost six months in that part of the city, and every day I asked the watchman, “Has that man come yet?”

He said, “He has not come. These two buckets are still waiting for him, and I think that now he will never come. Either he has gone forever, or he has become so afraid of this place that he never comes on this street. I have been watching and when my shift changes and the other watchman comes, I tell him that if somebody comes.and we keep these buckets in front of the gate, so he will recognize that his buckets are here. But six months have passed, and there is no sign of him.”

I said, “This is a very strange thing.”

He said, “There is nothing strange about it. You would have killed anybody, coming suddenly out of the darkness. Why were you going backwards? Jogging I know many people do, but doing it backwards..”

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