He owned a very ancient Ford, perhaps a T model – I think it was the T model which was the most ancient one. He wanted to come just to see what happened.
Of course, as I passed through the town on the elephant everybody wondered, and people gathered, saying to themselves, “What’s the matter? And how did this boy get the elephant?”
When I reached the school there was a big crowd. Even the elephant found it difficult to enter because of all the people. And the children were jumping – do you know where? – on the roof of the school! They were shouting, “He has come! We knew he would bring some trick, but this one is too big.”
The headmaster had to tell the peon to ring the bell signaling that the school was closed, otherwise the crowd would destroy the garden, or even the roof may give way with so many children on it. Even my own teachers were on the roof! And the strange thing is even I, foolishly, felt like going up on the roof to see what was happening.
The school was closed. The elephant had entered and passed through and I made the gate relevant. At least it could now say to the other gates: “Once upon a time, a boy passed through me on an elephant, and there was such a crowd to see it happen….” Of course the gate will say “…to see me, the gate.”
The raja also came. When he saw the crowd he could not believe it. He asked me, “How did you manage to gather so many people so quickly?”
I said, “I did nothing. Just my entry into school was enough. Don’t think it was your elephant. If you think that, tomorrow you go on the elephant, and I will see that not a single soul reaches here.”
He said, “I don’t want to look like a fool. Whether they come or not, I would look foolish if I was sitting on my elephant for no reason, in front of a primary school. You, at least, belong to the school. I know about you. I have heard many stories. Now, when are you going to ask for my Ford?”
I said, “Just you wait.”
I never went, although he had invited me himself, and it would have been a great occasion, because in the whole town there was no other car. But this car was too…what to say about it? Every twenty yards you had to get out and push it. That’s the reason I never went.
I said to him, “What kind of car is this?”
He said, “I am a poor man, a king of a small state. I have to have a car, and this is the only one I can afford.”
It was absolutely worthless. I still wonder how it managed to even move for a few yards. The whole town used to enjoy it, and laughed when the raja came past in his car, and of course everybody had to push!
I said to him, “No. Right now I am not in a position to take your car, but someday, maybe.” I said it just not to hurt his feelings. But I still remember that car. It must still be there in that house.