I used to pass through my father’s shop, because the shop was in front – at the back was the house where the family lived. That’s how it happens in India: house and shop are together so it is easily manageable. I used to pass through my father’s shop with closed eyes.
He asked me, “This is strange. Whenever you pass through the shop into the house, or from the house” – it was just a twelve foot space to pass – “you always keep your eyes closed. What ritual are you practicing?”
I said, “I am simply practicing so that this shop does not destroy me as it has destroyed you. I don’t want to see it at all; I am absolutely uninterested, totally uninterested.” And it was one of the most beautiful cloth shops in that city – the best materials were available there – but I never looked to the side, I simply closed my eyes and passed by.
He said, “But in opening your eyes there is no harm.”
I said, “One never knows – one can be distracted. I don’t want to be distracted by anything.”
Naturally, he wanted me – I was his eldest son – he wanted me to help him. He wanted me, after my education, to come and take charge of the shop. The shop he had managed well; it had become a big place, slowly, slowly. He said, “Of course, who else is going to look after it? I will be getting old; do you want me continually to be here?”
I said, “No, I don’t, but you can retire. You have your younger brothers who are interested in the shop, in fact too interested – even afraid that you may give the shop to me. I have told them, ‘Don’t be afraid of me; I am no one’s competitor.’ Give this shop to your younger brothers.”
But in India the tradition is that the eldest son inherits everything. My father was the eldest son of his father; he inherited everything. All that he had now was for me to take care of Naturally he was worried…but there was no way. He tried in every possible way, somehow to get me interested.
He would say to me, “Even if you become a doctor you cannot earn as much in the whole month as I can earn in a day. If you become an engineer, what salary are you going to get? If you become a professor – I can hire your professors, no problem. And you know there are so many thousands of graduates, post-graduates, PhDs, unemployed.”
First he tried to persuade me not to go to the university because he was very much afraid that it would make me absolutely independent for six years – going far away. Then he would not even be able to keep an eye on me. He had already been regretting that for seven years he left me with my mother’s parents.
I told him, “Don’t be afraid. What has to happen has happened: I am really graduated. Those seven years…. No university is needed to corrupt me; I am corrupted completely – out of your hands. And these means of persuasion – salaries, respect, money – I don’t give any value to them. And I am not going to become a doctor or an engineer, so don’t be worried. In fact, I am going to remain a vagabond my whole life.”