I used to rush back from school to the river. Yes, just for a moment I would stop to throw my books in at my Nani’s house. She would persuade me to at least have a cup of tea, saying, “Don’t be in such a hurry. The river is not going to leave, it’s not a train.” That’s exactly what she used to say again and again: “Remember, it is not a train. You cannot miss it. So please drink your cup of tea, then go. And don’t throw your books down like that.”
I didn’t say anything because that would have meant further delay. She was always amazed, saying, “At any other time you are ready to argue; but when you are going to the river, even if I say anything – whether it is nonsense, illogical, absurd – you simply listen as if you were such an obedient child. What happens to you when you are going to the river?”
I said, “Nani, you know me. You know perfectly well that I don’t want to waste time. The river is calling. I can even hear the sound of its waves while I am drinking my tea.”
I have burned my lips many times just by drinking tea which was too hot. But I was in a hurry, and the cup had to be emptied. My Nani was there; she wouldn’t allow me to go before I drank my tea.
She was not like Gudia. Gudia is special in that way; she always tells me, “Wait. The tea is too hot.” Perhaps it is my old habit. I again start taking the cup and so she says, “Wait! It’s too hot.” I know she is right, so I wait until she does not object, then I drink the tea. Perhaps the old habit of just drinking tea and rushing to the river is still there.
Although my grandmother knew that I wanted to reach the waters as soon as possible, she would try to persuade me to have a little something to eat – this or that. I would say to her, “Just give everything to me. I will keep it in my pockets and eat it on the way.” I have always liked cashew nuts, particularly salted ones, and for years I used to fill all my pockets with them. All my pockets meant two in my pants, meaning shorts, because I never liked long trousers – perhaps because all my teachers wore them, and I hated teachers, and a certain association must have arisen. So I only wore shorts.
In India shorts are far better, climatically, than long trousers. Both my pants pockets were full of cashew nuts; and you will be surprised: just because of those cashew nuts I had to tell the tailor to make two pockets in my shirts. I always had two pockets in my shirts. I never understood the reason why just one pocket was put on shirts. Why not only one pocket in trousers too? Or just one pocket in shorts? Why only one in shirts? The reason is not obvious, but I know why. The single shirt pocket is always on the left side so that the right hand can take things out and put things in, and naturally no pocket is needed for the poor left hand. What would a poor man do with a pocket?
The left hand is one of the repressed parts of the human body; and if you try, you will understand what I am saying. You can do everything with the left hand that you can do with the right, even writing, and perhaps better.