Even when I was young, in India it was a common practice to steal rich people’s children, then to threaten the parents that if they didn’t pay, then the hands of the child would be cut off. If they paid, then they could save the child’s hands. Sometimes the threat would be to blind the child, or if the parents were really rich, then the threat was direct, that the child would be killed. To save the child, the poor parents were ready to do anything whatsoever.
Twice they tried to steal me. Two things saved me: one was my horse, who was a really strong Arabian; the second was Bhoora, the servant. He was ordered by my grandfather to fire into the air – not at the people trying to abduct me, because that is against Jainism, but you are allowed to fire into the air to frighten them. Of course my grandmother had whispered in Bhoora’s ear, “Don’t bother about what my husband says. First you can fire into the air, but if it doesn’t work, remember: if you don’t shoot the people I will shoot you.” And she was a really good shot. I have seen her shoot and she was always accurate to the minutest point. She was just like Gudia – she did not miss much.
Nani was in many ways like Gudia, very exact as far as details are concerned. She was always to the point, never around it. There are some people who go around and around and around, you have to figure out what they really want. That was not her way; she was exact, mathematically exact. She told Bhoora, “Remember, if you come home without him just to report he has been stolen, I will shoot you immediately.” I knew, Bhoora knew, my grandfather knew, because although she said it into Bhoora’s ear, it was not a whisper; it was loud enough to be heard by the whole village. She meant it; she always meant business.
My grandfather looked the other way. I could not resist; I laughed loudly and said, “Why are you looking the other way? You heard her. If you are a real Jaina tell Bhoora not to shoot anybody.”
But before my grandfather could say anything, my Nani said, “I have told Bhoora on your behalf too, so you keep quiet.” She was such a woman that she would even have shot my grandfather. I knew her – I don’t mean literally, but metaphorically, and that is more dangerous than literally. So he kept quiet.
Twice I was almost abducted. Once my horse brought me home, and once Bhoora had to fire the gun, of course into the air. Perhaps if there had been a need he would have fired at the person who was trying to abduct me, but there was no need, so he saved himself and also my grandfather’s religion.
Since then, it is strange, it seems very, very strange to me because I have been absolutely harmless to everybody, yet I have been in danger many times. Many attempts have been made on my life. I have always wondered, since life will end by itself sooner or later, why anybody should be interested to put an end to it in the middle. What purpose can it serve? If I could be convinced of that purpose I can stop breathing this very moment.