This morning I said a very abrupt goodbye to Masto, and I felt it the whole day. It simply cannot be done, at least in his case. It reminds me of when I was going to college and leaving my Nani after being so long together.
Since my grandfather died and left her there had been no one in her life except me. It was not easy for her. It was not easy for me either. Except for her there was nothing to keep me in that village. I can see that day: the early morning – it was a beautiful winter’s morning and people from the village had gathered.
Even today, in those parts of central India, things are not contemporary, they are at least two thousand years old. Nobody has much to do. Everybody seems to have enough time to loaf around. I really mean that everybody is a loafer. I simply mean the literal meaning, not any association that has arisen about the word. So, all the “loafers” were there. Please write the word in inverted commas so nobody misunderstands.
My whole family was there, which was a big crowd. They had come because they had to come, otherwise I could see no point in seeing their faces, which were then, and now, faceless, just names. But my poor father was there, my mother was there, my younger brothers and sisters were there, and they were all really weeping. Even my father was weeping.
I had never seen him tearful, never before, and never afterwards. And I was not dying, just going a hundred miles away. But it was the very idea of going away for four years at least, to get a bachelor’s degree. Then, what if I decide – and nobody knows – to stay two more years for a master’s degree; then a minimum of two more years for a Ph.D.?
It was a long separation. Perhaps by that time many of them would not be in the world, who knows? But I was only concerned about my Nani, because my mother and my father had lived so long without me when I was so small. Now I could live on my own, I could help myself. I needed no other help.
But for my Nani…. I can still see the early morning sun, the warm sun, the crowd, my father, my mother. I touched the feet of my Nani, and said to her, “Don’t be worried, whenever you call I will immediately rush. And don’t think that I am going far away. It is only a hundred miles, just three hours by train.”
In those days the fastest train did not stop at that poor village. Otherwise the journey was only two hours. Now, it stops – but now it does not matter whether it stops or not.
I told her, “I will come running. Eighty or a hundred miles is nothing.”
She said, “I know and I am not worried.”