He said, “Now I cannot hide it from you. He is my son: I am teaching him. But please don’t tell anybody that he is my son. He is respected, and people think that he belongs to a rich family” – and he had kept him like a rich man’s son. His earning was good; in India, beggars earn more than professors.
I said, “No, I will not tell anybody. There is no need to say anything to anybody; and there is no harm.”
He said, “I am living just for him. He is my hope. What I could not do in my life he will do. Perhaps I may not be able to see it – him living in his own home, having his own car, his wife, children, a good salary, or a good business. Perhaps I may not be able to live that long, but I pray to God to give me a little more life.
“I just want to see him – I will never go close to his house, I will not disturb his life. Nobody will ever know that he is the son of a beggar. And the woman who was his mother was also a beggar; we were never married. She has died, with the same hope. We both were working hard to keep him in a boarding school. Meeting him in hiding…. He comes here once in a while to meet me – in this goods shed we meet because nobody comes here.
“I can suffer as much as my fate decides but only one hope is enough to keep me tolerating every suffering, every humiliation, every insult. My son is now in the final MA; next year perhaps he will be in a good job. It is a question of only a few years until he will be having his own house – I never had one; he will be having his own wife – I never had one. He will be having his own children – and although I have him, I cannot claim to be his father because I was never married.”
Now this man…I asked him, “Have you ever thought of committing suicide?”
He said, “Suicide? What are you saying? I am thinking only of life, more life.”
Through him I became acquainted with many beggars. And I asked all of them, whenever we were alone, “Have you ever thought of committing suicide?” And they were shocked the same way: “Why have you asked this question? Why should we think of committing suicide? We want to live – we have not lived yet.”
One beggar told me, “I have been putting my money in a bank hoping that one day I will drop this begging and just live a relaxed life. Once in a while I would like to give something to a beggar. People have insulted me so much; even in their giving they insult. It is not given with compassion, it is not given with love: it is given just to get rid of you – you are a nuisance. And we know, so we create a nuisance because nobody gives out of compassion. They give to us if they want to get rid of a nuisance.
“So we never beg from a single person if he is walking on the road alone, because he will say ‘go to hell!’ We beg when there are people around before whom he cannot misbehave because he is a respectable man, known to be kind and compassionate; now this is the time to show the compassion. We see in their faces that they are boiling with anger that we have caught them in the wrong place – but for us that is the right place.”