My Nani was fifty, still at the peak of her beauty and youth. I have never forgotten that moment – it was such a moment! My grandfather was dying and asking us to stop the wheel…what nonsense! How could I stop the wheel? We had to reach the hospital, and without the wheel we would be lost in the forest. And my grandmother was laughing so loudly that even Bhoora, the servant, our driver, asked, of course from the outside, “What is going on? Why are you laughing?” Because I used to call her Nani, Bhoora also used to call her Nani, just out of respect for me. He then said, “Nani, my master is sick and you are laughing so loudly; what’s the matter? And why is Raja so silent?”
Death, and my grandmother’s laughter, both, made me utterly silent because I wanted to understand what was happening. Something was happening that I had never known before and I was not going to lose a single moment through any distraction.
My grandfather said, “Stop the wheel. Raja, can’t you hear me? If I can hear your grandmother’s laughter you must be able to hear me. I know she is a strange woman; I have never been able to understand her.”
I said to him, “Nana, as far as I know she is the simplest woman I have seen, although I have not seen much yet.”
But now to you I can say, I don’t think there is any man on the earth, alive or dead, who has seen so much of the woman as I have. But just to console my dying grandfather I said to him, “Don’t be worried about her laughter. I know her, she is not laughing at what you are saying, it is something else between us, a joke that I told her.”
He said, “Okay. If it is a joke that you told her then it is perfectly okay for her to laugh. But what about the chakra, the wheel?”
Now I know, but at that time I was absolutely unacquainted with such terminology. The wheel represents the whole Indian obsession with the wheel of life and death. For thousands of years, millions of people have been doing only one thing: trying to stop the wheel. He was not talking about the wheel of the bullock cart – that was very easy to stop, in fact it was difficult to keep it moving.
There was no road; not only at that time, even now! Last year one of my distant cousins visited the ashram, and he said, “I wanted to bring my whole life to your feet, but the real difficulty is the road.”
I said, “Still?”
Almost fifty years have passed, but India is such a country that there, time stands still. Who knows when the clock stopped? But it stopped exactly at twelve, with both hands together. That’s beautiful: the clock decided the right time. Whenever it happened – and it must have happened thousands of years ago, but whenever it happened – the clock, either by chance or by some computerized intelligence, stopped at twelve, with both hands together. You cannot see them as two, you can only see them as one. Perhaps it was twelve o’clock at night…because the country is so dark, and the darkness is so dense.
“My God,” the man said to me, “I could not bring the whole family to see you because of the roads.”
Perhaps they will never see me, just because of the roads. No roads existed then, and even today no railway line passes by that village. It is a really poor village, and when I was a child it was even poorer.