Tears rolled down from her eyes. She said, “Then you will not find many friends in the world, that’s why I am worried. If Shambhu Babu has become your friend then you will not find many friends in the world. Not only that; perhaps you may find friends, because you are young, but Shambhu Babu will certainly not find another friend in the world, because he is too old.”
Again and again my grandmother will come into my story with her tremendous insight. Yes, I can see it now. Recapitulating, I can see what she had seen and wept over. I know now that Shambhu Babu never had any other friend. Except for me he was friendless.
I used to visit my village once in a while, perhaps once a year, or twice, not more than that. And as I became more and more involved in my own activity – or you can call it inactivity…as I became more and more involved with the sannyasins, and the movement of meditation, my visits to the village became even rarer. In fact, the last few years before he died my only visits were when I passed through the village on the train.
The station master was my sannyasin, so of course the train would stay as long as I wanted it to. They – and by “they” I mean my father, my mother, Shambhu Babu, and many others who loved me – would come to the station. That would be my only visit; ten, twenty, at the most thirty minutes. The train could not be delayed any longer because other trains had to come. They would be waiting outside the station.
But I can understand his loneliness. He had no other friends. Almost every day he wrote a letter to me – that is very rare – and there was nothing to write. Sometimes he would just send the empty paper inside an envelope. I would understand even that. He was feeling very lonely, and would like to have my company. I tried my best to be there as much as it was practical, because to me it was really a drag to be in that village. It was just for him that I suffered that village.
After he died I rarely, very rarely went there. I now had an excuse, that I could not come because it reminded me of Shambhu Babu. But really there was no point in going there. When he was there, there was a point. He was just a small oasis in a desert.
He was absolutely unafraid about all kinds of condemnation that came to him because of me. To be associated with me, even in those days, was not a good thing. It was dangerous. They told him, “You will lose all the respect of the community, and it is the community that made you from vice president into the president.”
I said to him, “You can choose, Shambhu Babu: be the president of this stupid village or be my friend.”
He resigned his mayorship, and his presidency. He didn’t say a single word to me; he simply wrote his letter of resignation there, in front of me. He said, “I love something in you which is indefinable. The presidency of this stupid town means nothing to me. I am ready to lose everything, if it comes to that. Yes, I am ready to lose everything.”
They tried to persuade him not to resign, but he would not take it back.