Could you elaborate a little? If they had ignored you, it would have been worse than the hostility?
No, I would have created something so that they could not ignore. I can accept their hate, their hostility, their opposition, but I cannot accept their ignoring us, because it is easier to transform the hate into love, hostility into friendship. But there is no way to communicate with someone who is ignoring you. The people of Oregon have proved really receptive.
If we could go back to India, and when you were younger: I have heard that you lived with Sheela’s family for a while, and I have read that you lived with your grandparents as a young boy. I’m not certain which is accurate. Could you tell me about your childhood?
Yes. My early childhood, up to six or seven, I was with my maternal grandfather and grandmother. I loved the place. It was a very small village surrounded by lush greenery, and the house of my grandfather was just on the bank of a beautiful lake. After that, for three years I lived with Sheela’s father. He loved me not like a small boy, but like a contemporary friend.
It was a strange relationship: he loved me, he respected me too, which is very rare. I loved him – that was nothing new – I respected him, but I respected him more because he could respect a child just like a friend. And for three years it was a tremendous experience, because I could never communicate or relate with my own age group. I had never played any game in my life, it all looked stupid.
Even as a very small child?
Never. As far back as I can remember, I loved only one game – to argue.
To argue about everything. So very few grownup people could stand me; understanding was out of the question. In Sheela’s father I found a man who was ready to understand me, and I never felt that he was tired or bored or not ready to answer. He never tried to shut me up.