“I am surprised myself that I am capable of it: being miserable, tears flowing. And I pray to you that when I am acting this way, please don’t stand so close. Just be out in the garden; you don’t have to be present to watch the whole scene, because then it becomes more difficult for me to do the performance.”
One day a man came. He was known to me, he was a bookseller. And I asked him, “Can you pretend just for two minutes to be a far-off relative of a dead wife?”
He said, “What?”
I said, “I will explain it to you later on when I come to your shop. But remember, it has to be done in a certain way. First, I will introduce you as the best shopkeeper in town, who is not only a shopkeeper but who loves books and has a collection of rare books: ‘It is not just a business for him, it is his love affair.’ I will introduce you first in this way. And then in the middle I will tell him, ‘He’s also a relative of your dead wife.’ I just want to see how he changes his mask.”
I introduced the man. My uncle was perfectly happy. He said, “Very good, I will come some time. I don’t have much time to read, but if you can suggest some rare books I will try to find the time.”
And then I said, “But I forgot one thing. He has not come here to sell books; he is a relative of your dead wife.” And immediately my uncle started crying, tears came to his eyes and he was so miserable.
The bookseller was also amazed at how quickly he changed. He had just been laughing and there had been no question of misery or anything.
And then I said, “Just don’t harass yourself. He is not related to your wife, it is just a misunderstanding.”
He said, “What kind of misunderstanding?”
I said, “Another woman in the neighborhood has also died; he is related to that woman.”
And immediately, all the tears had gone and he started laughing. He said, “This is a great joke! Why didn’t you tell me?”
The bookseller said, “I am very new to this locality, I have never been here, and he misled me. He told me that my relative used to live here, and she has died. I came because of my relative who has died, but I am not acquainted with this locality, and I have never seen the husband of my relative, so just forgive me. But it has been a great experience! You could have been a great actor – within minutes, from laughter to misery, from misery back to laughter.”
I said, “This is nothing. If I tell him the reality, he will be back again to tears and misery.”
He said, “What reality?”
I said, “No other woman has died. He is a relative of your wife.”
He said, “Listen, I have told you this is a serious affair” – and again misery and tears.
And that man felt so sad for this miserable creature…he told me, “Don’t torture him this way.”