It had become almost a cliche. Everybody knew that if you go to Pagal Baba you would have to touch the feet of that boy who is a nuisance in every possible way. And you have to touch his feet! What absurdity…but Pagal Baba is mad. This man, Masto, was certainly different. With tears in his eyes and folded hands he said, “From this moment onward you will be my Pagal Baba. He is leaving his body, but he will live on as you.”
I don’t know how much time passed, because he would not let go of my feet. He was crying. His beautiful hair was spread all over the ground. Again and again I told him, “Masta Baba, it is enough.”
He said, “Unless you call me Masto, I will not leave your feet.”
Now, “Masto” is a term used only by an older man to a child. How could I call him Masto? But there was no way out. I had to. Even Pagal Baba said, “Don’t wait, call him Masto, so that I can die without any shadow around me.”
Naturally, in such a situation, I had to call him Masto. The moment I used the name, Masto said, “Say it thrice.”
In the East, that too is a convention. Unless you say a thing thrice it does not mean much. So three times I said, “Masto, Masto, Masto. Now will you please leave my feet?” And I laughed, Pagal Baba laughed, Masto laughed – and that laughter from all three joined us together into something which is unbreakable.
That very day Pagal Baba died. But Masto did not stay, although I told him that death was very close.
He said, “For me now, you are the one. Whenever I need to, I will come to you. He is going to die anyway; in fact, to tell you the truth, he should have died three days ago. He has been hanging around just for you, so that he could introduce me to you. And it is not only for you, it is for me too.”
I asked Pagal Baba before he died, “Why did you look so happy after Masta Baba had come here?”
He said, “Just a conventional mind, forgive me.”
He was such a nice old man. To ask forgiveness, at the age of ninety, from a boy, and with so much love….
I said, “I am not asking why you waited for him. The question is not about you or him. He is a beautiful man, and worth waiting for. I am asking why you worried so much.”
He said, “Again let me ask you not to argue at this moment. It is not that I am against argument, as you know. I particularly love the way you argue, and the strange turns you give to your arguments, but this is not the time. There is no time really. I am living on borrowed time. I can tell you only one thing: I am happy that he came, and happy that you both became friendly and loving as I wanted you to. Perhaps one day you will see the truth of this old, traditional idea.”
The idea is that unless three enlightened people recognize a child as a future buddha, it is almost impossible for him to become one. Pagal Baba, you were right. Now I can see it is not just a convention. To recognize somebody as enlightened is to help him immeasurably. Particularly if a man like Pagal Baba recognizes you, and touches your feet – or a man like Masto.