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Chapter 6: The Original Face of the Child

The man was a brahmin - I had seen his name on the door. In the air-conditioned compartment they have the passengers’ names on the door, so I had seen that he was a Bengali, a high-caste brahmin, a chattopadhyaya. So he said, “What religion?”

I said, “Religion is just religion - there is no adjective to it.”

He said, “That I cannot believe. You must be a religious Hindu sage.”

I said, “If it helps you, I am.”

And he fell at my feet, and he said, “I knew from the very beginning that you are not mad, that you are a sage. And sages and mad people look alike, behave alike. Everything that you said now makes sense.”

But I said, “One thing I have just said to console you - really I am not a Hindu, I am a Mohammedan.” And now you cannot believe what a terrible mess he fell into. He had touched the feet of a Mohammedan! A Hindu brahmin, a high-caste brahmin, is afraid even of touching the shadow of a Mohammedan. If he touches even the shadow of a Mohammedan he will have to take a bath to cleanse himself. And he had touched actual feet!

Now the situation had become much worse. The chattopadhyaya said, “But why did you lie to me?”

I said, “I was just trying to console you. I never thought that you would fall at my feet. Before I could prevent you, you had already done it. But don’t be worried, I am really a brahmin. I was just checking what happens: if some Mohammedan looks like a brahmin sage and you touch his feet, what will happen to you? I was just trying to see.”

He said, “That’s right.” And a great smile.and he relaxed in his seat and he said, “I knew from the very beginning - such a nice person could not be a Mohammedan. Those Mohammedans are all butchers.”

I said, “You are right, because I was born a Mohammedan so I know perfectly well they are all butchers.”

This way I have seen many well-educated people trying to figure out.and I told them, “Why are you bothering to figure out about me? If you take that much trouble to figure out about yourself you will become enlightened! You need not worry about me. You do your work, whatever you want to do; you simply accept me as absent, I am not here. Behave as if I am not here and do whatsoever you want to do.

“If you want me to close my eyes, I can close my eyes. If you want me to go to sleep, I will go to sleep. But please be at ease; just forget about me. But don’t try to become familiar with me - that I don’t allow. We are going to remain strangers for ten hours.”

In fact we are all strangers.

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