I started winning in competitions when I was just a child in primary school, and that continued to the very end, when I left university. I collected so many prizes, medals and cups and shields and whatnot, that my grandmother became just a young girl again. Whenever she would bring someone to show them my prizes and awards, she was no longer an old woman, she became almost young again.
Her whole house became almost a museum because I went on sending her my prizes. Up till high school, of course, I was almost a resident in her house. It was just for courtesy’s sake that I used to visit my parents in the daytime; but the night was hers, because that was the time to tell the stories.
I can still see myself by the side of her bed, with her listening so attentively to what I was saying. Each word uttered by me was absorbed by her as if it were of immense value. And it became valuable just because she took it in with so much love and respect. When it had knocked on my door it was just a beggar, but when it entered into her house, it was no longer the same person. The moment she called me, saying, “Raja! Now tell me what happened to you today – the whole thing – promise me you will not leave out anything at all,” the beggar dropped all that made him look like a beggar; now he was a king.
Every day I had to promise her, and even though I told her everything that happened, she would insist, “Tell me something more,” or “Tell me that one again.”
Many times I said to her, “You will spoil me; both you and Shambhu Babu are spoiling me forever.” And they really did their job well. I collected hundreds of awards. There was not a single high school in the whole state where I had not spoken and won – except once. Only once had I not been the winner, and the reason was simple. Everybody was amazed, even the girl who had won, because, she said to me, “It is impossible to think I could win against you.”
The whole hall – and there must have been at least two thousand students – became full of a great humming, and everybody was saying that it was unfair, even the principal who was presiding over the contest. Losing that cup became very significant to me; in fact, if I had not lost that cup, I would have been in great trouble. Of that I will tell you when the time comes.
The principal called me and said, “I am sorry – you are certainly the winner,” and he gave his own watch to me saying, “This is far more costly than the cup which was given to that girl.” And it certainly was. It was a gold watch. I have received thousands of watches, but I have never again received such a beautiful one; it was a real masterpiece. That principal was very interested in rare things, and his watch was a rare piece.
I can still see it. I have received so many watches, but I have forgotten them.