My grandfather remained utterly innocent, and I saw the great freedom that he had. In my whole family he was the eldest. He should have been the most serious and most burdened with so many problems and so many anxieties, but nothing affected him. Everybody was serious and worried when there were problems; only he was not worried. But one thing I never liked – that’s why I remembered him this moment – and that was sleeping with him. He had the habit of sleeping with his face covered and I would have to sleep with my face also covered, and that was suffocating.
I told him clearly, “I agree about everything else, but this I cannot tolerate. You cannot sleep with your face uncovered; I cannot sleep with my face covered – it suffocates me. You do it lovingly” – he would keep me close to his heart and cover me completely – “that’s perfectly good, but in the morning my heart will not be beating. Your intention is good, but you will be alive in the morning and I will be gone. So our friendship is out of the bed.”
He wanted me there because he loved me and he had said, “Why don’t you come and sleep with me?”
I said, “You know perfectly well that I don’t want to be suffocated by anybody, even if his intention is good. You love me and you would like to keep me close to your heart even in the night.” Also, we used to go for a long walk in the mornings, and sometimes in the night when there was a moon. But I never allowed him to hold my hand. And he would say, “But why? You may fall, you may stumble upon a stone or anything.”
I said, “That’s better. Let me stumble, it is not going to kill me. It will teach me how not to stumble, how to be alert, how to remember where the rocks are. But you holding my hand – for how long can you hold my hand? How long are you going to be with me? If you can guarantee that you will always be with me, then of course I am willing.”
He was a very sincere man, he said, “That I cannot guarantee; I cannot even say about tomorrow. And one thing is certain, you will live long and I will be dead, so I will not be here forever to hold your hand.”
“Then,” I said, “It is better for me to learn from now, because one day you will leave me in the middle, helpless. And if you have trained me to hold your hand, then there are only two ways: either I start living in a fiction: God the father…”
Why do you call God “the father”? Yes, there are two kinds of religions in the world. A few religions call God “the mother,” and a few religions call God “the father.” The majority of religions call God “the father” for the simple reason that the majority of societies are patriarchal, male chauvinist. But around the world, a very few, small tribes are still matriarchal, where the woman is higher than the man. Naturally God cannot be a man in those societies; in those societies God is the mother.
But no society calls God “uncle.” It is strange, very strange, because uncle is an older word than father. Father is not very old; it is a very late addition to language. The further back you go, the more you will find there were societies all over the world – just as it is with other animals, birds – where the mother took care of everything. The father’s function was finished once the woman was pregnant.