I was talking about the death of my Nana, my grandfather. Just now I remembered that he never had to go to a dentist. What a fortunate man! He died with all his teeth intact. And look at me. When you were examining my teeth I heard you say that one is missing. That may be why I am so hard: thirty-one teeth instead of thirty-two. That may be why I hit so mercilessly. Naturally, when even one tooth is missing, what else can I do but hit mercilessly this way and that, at whatsoever I can put my hands on?
That was my way during those first years when I lived with my grandfather, and yet I was absolutely protected from punishment. He never said “Do this,” or “Don’t do that.” On the contrary he put his most obedient servant, Bhoora, at my service, to protect me. Bhoora used to carry a very primitive gun with him. He used to follow me at a distance, but that was enough to frighten the villagers. That was enough to allow me to do whatsoever I wanted.
Anything one could imagine…like riding on a buffalo backward with Bhoora following. It was only later on, in the university museum, I saw the statue of Lao Tzu sitting backward on a buffalo. I laughed so loudly that the museum director came running to me saying, “Is anything wrong?” Because I was holding my stomach and sitting on the floor, he said, “Are you suffering from something?”
I said, “No, and don’t bother me, and don’t make me laugh any more, otherwise I will start crying. Just leave me alone. Nothing is wrong with me. I am just reminded of my childhood. This is the way I used to ride on a buffalo.”
In my village particularly, and all over India, nobody rides on a buffalo. The Chinese are strange people, and this person Lao Tzu was the strangest of all. But God knows, and only God knows, how I discovered the idea – even I don’t know – to sit on a buffalo in the marketplace, backward. I assume it was because I always liked anything absurd.
Those early years – if they could be given to me again, I would be ready to be born again. But you know, and I know, nothing can be repeated. That’s why I am saying that I would be ready to be born again, otherwise who wants to? Even though those days were full of beauty.
I was born under a wrong star. I regret that I forgot to ask the great astrologer why I was so mischievous. I cannot live without it; it is my nourishment. I can understand the old man, my grandfather, and the trouble my mischief caused him. The whole day he would sit on his gaddi – as the seat of a rich man is called in India – listening less to his customers, and more to the complainers. But he used to say to them, “I am ready to pay for any damage he has done, but remember, I am not going to punish him.”