He had poured all his talent, intelligence, and his soul into his flute, and he was left barren, desertlike. His flute was beautiful, but it was better not to have known the man. Now, when I hear his flute on a record, I try to dispose of him. I tell him, “Pannalal Ghosh, please don’t come in, let me listen to the flute.”
But Baba wanted him to be introduced to me, and not me to him. It was not for me, because I had no name. I had not done anything, right or wrong, yet, and I was never going to do anything either.
Even now, I can say the same thing: I have not done anything right or wrong. I am a non-doer, and I have remained persistently so, just a non-doer. But Pannalal Ghosh was a great musician. To tell him to touch my feet in front of so many people was very humbling. It was good exercise for him, but twice was too much; but he was a real Bengali Babu.
This term, “Bengali Babu” was invented by the British because their first capital in India was in Calcutta, not New Delhi, and obviously, their first servants were Bengalis. All Bengalis are fish eaters. They stink of fish. Chetana will understand, she is a fisherman’s daughter. Fortunately she can understand exactly. She has the nose too because when I smell something and nobody else can smell it, I have to depend on her. I then ask her, and she certainly smells it.
Bengalis are all fish eaters, and of course they all smell of fish. Every Bengali house has a pond. It happens nowhere else in India; it is special to Bengal. It is a beautiful country. Every house has, according to its capacity, a small or large pond to grow one’s own fish.
You will be surprised to know that the English word bungalow is the name for a Bengali house. Bengal is the English transformation of bangla, and the Britishers called the Bengali house “bungalow.” Each bungalow – that is Bengali house – has a pond in which you grow your own food. The whole place stinks of nothing but fish. To talk to a Bengali, particularly for a man like me, is so difficult. Even when visiting Bengal I never used to speak to Bengalis because of the smell, but only to non-Bengalis who were living there; it was really fishy.
Pannalal Ghosh died just seven days after I had seen him, and Baba had said to him, “This is your last opportunity.” I don’t think he understood it – he looked a little stupid. Forgive me for that expression, but what can I do if someone looks stupid? Whether I say it or not, he still looks stupid. But as far as his playing the flute is concerned, he is a genius. Perhaps that is why, in all other ways, he had become stupid – sucked by the flute, a dangerous instrument. But at least he touched my feet, but without really touching. So Baba said to him, “Touch his feet again and really touch them.”
Pannalal Ghosh said, “I have touched them twice. How does one really touch?”
And can you believe what Baba did? He touched my feet to show him how to do it – with tears in his eyes – and Baba was ninety years old!