I used to park my car beneath it for so many years that slowly everybody became aware not to park there: it was my place. I did not have to tell them, but by and by, slowly, it became accepted. Nobody would disturb that tree. If I was not coming, that tree waited for me. For years I parked under that tree. When I left university, I said good-bye to the vice-chancellor, and then I said, “I must go now, it is getting dark and my tree may go to sleep before the sun sets. I have to say goodbye to the gulmarg.”
The vice-chancellor looked at me as if I was mad, but anybody would have looked just the same. That’s the way to look at a misfit. But he still could not believe that I would do it. So he watched from his window while I said goodbye to the gulmarg.
I hugged the tree, and we remained together for a moment. The vice-chancellor rushed out, and came running to me saying, “Forgive me, just forgive me. I have never seen anybody hugging a tree, but now I know how much everybody is missing. I have never seen anybody say goodbye or good morning to a tree, but you have not only taught me a lesson, it has really sunk in.”
After two months he phoned me, just to inform me saying, “It is sad, and very strange, but the day you left, something happened to your tree” – it had now become my tree.
I said, “What has happened?”
He said, “It started dying. If you come now you will just see a dead tree, with no flowers or leaves. What has happened? That’s why I phoned you.”
I said, “You should have phoned the tree. How can I answer for the tree?”
For a moment there was silence, then he said, “It is as I always thought: you are mad!”
I said, “You are still not convinced, otherwise who phones a madman? You should have called the tree. And the tree is just outside your window – no phone is needed.”
He simply hung up. I laughed, but the next day in the early morning, before any of the idiots at the university were there, I went to see the tree. Yes, all its flowers were gone, and yet it was in season. All had gone – not only the flowers but the leaves too. There were just naked branches standing against the sky. I again hugged the tree and knew it was dead. At the first hug there was a response; at the second hug there was nobody to respond. The tree had left; only its body was standing there, and may stand for years. Perhaps it is still standing, but it is just dead wood.
I could never manage to fit anywhere. As a student I was a nuisance. Every professor who taught me looked on me as a punishment that God had sent for him. I enjoyed being a messenger of God. I enjoyed it to the fullest. Who would not have enjoyed it? And if they thought I was a punishment, I proved to be exactly – or more than – what they expected.
Only a few have met me lately. Their first question was, “We cannot yet believe that you could have become enlightened. You were such a troublemaker. We have forgotten all the students that studied with you, but even now we see you once in a while, in our nightmares.”