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Chapter 15: This Is the Last Dance

I said, “It is your beard, and you have been cutting and cutting and shaving and shaving, perhaps for fifty years, without ever thinking about what you are doing.” So I said, “Okay, you can have time. I will be coming every day at eleven o’clock when the office opens; you can meet me in front of the office. You have to find the answer.”

But my professor said, “We have not come here to discuss the beard! It is a question of your further education, your post-graduation, and he is the man who can decide.”

I said, “I don’t care. For the present, my whole concern is to make him realize that he has lived an unconscious life.”

The old man said, “From the beard you have reached to ‘an unconscious life’?” He asked my professor, “What are the requirements? I will grant him a scholarship for two years.” Free lodging, free boarding, he signed everything, and he said, “Just don’t stand every day in front of my door! If you need anything, you simply come and tell me, and I promise that I will not ask anything - it was my fault.”

So I said, “It is decided? Once you ask me a question, then that becomes my priority for that moment; whatever I have to sacrifice, I will sacrifice.”

He said, “I promise, and your professor is the witness.” But it was difficult for him - it would have been difficult for anybody, because I used to wear a robe without any buttons so my whole chest was exposed.. And the next time I went because I wanted to be allowed to take as many books as I wanted from the library to my room, the rule that only one book could be issued at a time, should not be applied to me.

He said, “We can talk about that, but where are your buttons?”

I said, “You are getting into trouble; you have forgotten your promise. In fact, I should ask again, that in a hot country like India.and it is summertime, and you are perspiring, and still you are using a necktie and wearing a coat? I don’t use buttons because I want my chest to have the fresh breeze. Is it something wrong?”

He said, “It is not wrong.”

I said, “Something immoral? Something against the rules of the university? Why should you be concerned about it? It is my chest, and I want it to have as much breeze as possible.”

He said, “I forgot my promise. You are allowed to take as many books as you want. I will not even ask why you want so many books because I don’t want to get into any argumentation. One thing is decided: it is better not to argue with you.”

The first meeting that I attended in which he spoke was the birthday of Gautam Buddha. He was a very good orator, and a good actor too. When he was talking about Gautam Buddha, tears came to his eyes, and he said, “I have always felt that if I was in the time of Gautam Buddha, I would have gone and sat at his feet and learned the art of attaining more consciousness, of becoming enlightened.”

I was sitting in the middle; I stood up. As he saw me standing, he said, “Have I said anything wrong?”

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