During the nine months in the mother’s womb the child passes through almost three million years of evolution…very quickly of course, as if you see a film run so fast that you can hardly see it – just glimpses. But in nine months the child certainly passes through the whole of life from its very beginning. In the beginning – and I am not quoting the Bible, I am simply stating the facts of every child’s life – in the beginning every child is a fish, just as once the whole of life began in the ocean. Man still carries the same quantity of salt in his body as ocean water. Man’s mind plays the drama again and again; the whole drama of birth, from the fish to the old man gasping for his last breath.
I wanted to go back to the village, but it was next to impossible to regain that which had been lost. That is where I learned that it is better never to go back to anything. Since then I have been to so many places but I have never gone back. Once I have left a place I have left it forever. That childhood episode forever determined a certain pattern, a structure, a system. Although I wanted to go, there was no support. My grandmother simply said, “No, I cannot go back to that village. If my husband is not there then why should I go back? I only went there for his sake, not for the village. If I have to go anywhere I would like to go to Khajuraho.”
But that too was impossible because her parents were dead. Later on I visited her house, where she had been born. It was only a ruin. There was no possibility of going back there. And Bhoora, who was the only person who would have been ready to go back, died just after the death of his master, just twenty-four hours after.
Nobody was prepared to see two deaths happen so quickly, particularly me, to whom they both meant such a lot. Bhoora may have been just an obedient servant to my grandfather, but to me he was a friend. Most of the time we were together – in the fields, in the forest, on the lake, everywhere. Bhoora followed me like a shadow, not interfering, always ready to help, and with such a great heart…so poor and yet so rich, together.
He never invited me to his house. Once I asked him, “Bhoora, why do you never invite me to your house?”
He said, “I am so poor that although I want to invite you, my poverty prevents me. I don’t want you to see that ugly house in all its dirtiness. In this life I cannot see a time when I will be able to invite you. I really have dropped the very idea.”
He was very poor. In that village there were two parts: one for the higher castes, and the other for the poorer ones, on the other side of the lake. That’s where Bhoora lived. Although I tried many times to reach his house I could not manage it because he was always following me like a shadow. He would prevent me before I even stepped in that direction.
Even my horse used to listen to him. When it came to going toward his house, Bhoora would say, “No! Don’t go.” Of course he had brought the horse up from its very childhood, they understood each other, and the horse would stop. There would be no way to get the horse to move either toward Bhoora’s house, or even toward the poorer part of the village. I had only seen it from the other side, the richer, where the brahmins and the Jainas lived, and all those who are by birth, pure. Bhoora was a sudra. The word sudra means “impure by birth,” and there is no way for a sudra to purify himself.