I say it is not a joke. That school teacher is real. The boy is real. The rain is real. The school teacher’s conclusion is real; and the small boy’s conclusion could not be more real. I have told thousands of jokes and many of them came from real life. Those which don’t come from real life also come from real life, but from the underground life, which is also real, but never on the surface – it is not allowed.
Masto had real talent in many dimensions. He was a musician, a dancer, a singer, and whatnot, but always very shy of “those eyes.” He used to call the people, “those ugly eyes.” He would say, “People cannot see, but only believe that they see. I am not for them.” Again and again he would remind me that I should not invite a single friend – although I had none – I mean a single acquaintance.
But once, when I asked him, “Can I ever be allowed to bring someone?” he replied, “If you just want the joy of inviting somebody intimate, then your Nani is allowed. For her, you need not even ask. Of course if she does not want to come, then I cannot do anything about it.” And that is what happened.
When I told my Nani, she said, “Tell Masto to come to my house and play his sitar here.” And he was such a humble man he came to play his sitar for the old woman. And he was so happy playing for her. And I was so happy that he had come, and did not refuse. I had been worried that he might.
And my grandmother, my Nani, the old woman, suddenly became as if she were young again. I saw what can only be called a transfiguration! As she became more and more attuned to the sitar, she became younger and younger. I saw a miracle happen. By the time Masto had finished playing his sitar, she was suddenly the old woman again.
I said, “This is not right, Nani; at least let poor Masto have one glimpse of what his music can do for a person like you.”
She said, “It is not in my hands. If it happens it happens. If it does not happen, nothing can be done about it. I know that Masto will understand.”
Masto said, “I do understand.”
But what I saw was just unbelievable. I blinked my eyes again and again just to see whether it was only a dream, or I was really seeing her youth come back. Even today, I cannot believe that it was just my imagination. Perhaps on that day, but today I don’t have any imagination at all. I see things as they really are.
Masto remained unknown to the world at large for the simple reason that he never wanted to be among the crowd. And the moment his duty toward me, his promise to Pagal Baba, was finished, he disappeared in the Himalayas.
The Himalayas…the very word simply means “the home of ice.” Scientists say that if all the ice in the Himalayas melts someday, then the world would really have a flood. The whole world – it would not be limited to any one part – every ocean would rise by forty feet. They have given it the right name, “Himalaya”; Him means “ice,” alaya means “the home.”