I remember one night…. In the village there was no police station, no police, nothing. My grandfather was the richest man in the village. I used to sleep with him in his bed. One night a thief entered the house. My grandfather saw the thief crossing the fencing and entering; my grandfather started telling me a story. The thief had entered the house and was sitting in the corner – my grandfather started telling me a story, and it seems the thief also became interested in what he was saying.
My grandfather had the habit, of chewing pan, the betel leaf, continually. His bag was always with him, a very beautiful bag, and he was continually making his pan. This night he began to chew the pan and spit on the thief who was sitting in the corner! The thief could not escape either, L because he would be caught, and he could not say, “You are destroying an my clothes.”
Finally it was too much and the thief said, “Nana – because I used to call my grandfather nana; nana means maternal grandfather, and because of me the old man had become nana to the whole village; everybody started calling him nana. So the thief said, “Nana, it is too much. I am enjoying your story but I cannot enjoy your pan. Please stop! You will spoil my whole dress!”
My grandfather said, “Tomorrow you can come and take new clothes from me – because I have been deliberately spitting on you. It is not good of me, I should not have done it.”
“But,” the man said, “I am a thief, and you know I had come to steal.”
My grandfather said, “That is your business, whether you are a thief or not, but tomorrow you come and take new clothes” – because my grandfather had a shop, a multi-purpose shop. In small villages there are only multi-purpose shops; in the one shop you get clothes, sweets, shoes, umbrellas – everything is available. There was no other shop, he had the only shop for everything the village needed – medicines….
Next day the thief came, and I told him, “You seem to have some nerve! You have come with your whole shirt and dhoti spoiled by the red of the pan.”
He said, “What else to do? I am a poor man, I cannot afford another dress. Nana has promised me – and he is a man of his word.”
I said, “Are you certain? He can collect the neighborhood and have you caught because you entered with the intention of stealing. You have admitted it, otherwise what are you doing here? And he has left all these marks on you as proof”
He said, “Don’t create doubt in me. I know your nana: even if I had stolen – I have not stolen anything because I had no chance – he would never tell anybody.” And he went in and got a new dress. I told my nana, “This seems to be going a little too far. Don’t let him be caught, okay, don’t judge him as a thief – but you are rewarding him.”