I said to them, “Every parent is telling his children to come in and study – and you all go on forcing me to go out and play. Who is strange? Am I strange or are you strange? I don’t see any point in playing, I L don’t see any outcome in it. It is just wasting time. Those who have time, they can waste it. I don’t have much time.”
Since the day my maternal grandfather died, death became a constant companion to me. I was only seven years old when he died. He died on my lap. My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother used to live in a faraway village and I used to live with them. They had no other child than my mother. My mother was very young when I was born, but she had the whole responsibility of her husband’s family because my father’s mother died when I was only two years old. My father’s brothers and sisters were too small, too young; my mother was also very young, but she had to take care of the whole family. So my maternal grandfather and mother decided that it would be better if I lived with them. I could have more freedom and they could take more care of me. My mother would be a little less burdened, so she could take care of her husband’s family now she was the oldest – although she was just a young girl.
The village was not very far away, only sixteen miles, but there was no road, no train. When my grandfather fell sick, and the only physician in the village said, “It is beyond me – take him immediately to some hospital,” We took him in a bullock cart, because there was no other way. Those sixteen miles looked like thousands of miles, because he was dying.
I could see his pulse was slowing down, he was becoming unable to open his eyes; he started breathing in a very strange way, he stopped speaking. I saw death coming closer and closer. He was in my lap because my grandmother was in so much misery and suffering that she was constantly crying.
I told her, “You should think of me! I am only a child – now I am to take care of the dying man and to take care of you. And you had brought me to take care of! This seems strange. At least don’t cry, because if you cry then how can I stop myself from crying? I am not crying just so you can stop.” But she was not in her senses. I was continuously watching in every possible way to see whether the man was still alive or gone, and I saw him slowly, slowly, slowly drowning. By the time we reached my father’s place he was dead.
After that, death became a constant companion to me. That day I also died, because one thing became certain, that whether you live seven years or seventy years – he was seventy years – what does it matter, you have to die.
My grandfather was a rare man. I could not conceive him telling a lie, breaking a promise, even judging somebody as bad.