“I love stories, and all this started with my Nani. She was a lover of stories too. Not that she used to tell me stories, just the contrary; she used to provoke me to tell her stories, all kinds of stories and gossips. She listened so attentively that she made me into a story teller. Just for her I would find something interesting, because she would wait the whole day just to listen to my story. If I could not find anything, then I would invent. She is responsible: all credit or blame, whatsoever you call it, goes to her. I invented stories to tell her just so she would not be disappointed, and I can promise you that I became a successful story teller just for her sake.
I started winning in competitions when I was just a child in primary school, and that continued to the very end, when I left university. I collected so many prizes, medals and cups and shields and whatnot, that my grandmother became just a young girl again. Whenever she would bring someone to show them my prizes and awards, she was no longer an old woman, she became almost young again. Her whole house became almost a museum because I went on sending her my prizes. Up till high school, of course, I was almost a resident in her house. It was just for courtesy’s sake that I used to visit my parents in the daytime; but the night was hers, because that was the time to tell the stories.
I can still see myself by the side of her bed, with her listening so attentively to what I was saying. Each word uttered by me was absorbed by her as if it were of immense value. And it became valuable just because she took it in with so much love and respect. When it had knocked on my door it was just a beggar, but when it entered into her house, it was no longer the same person. The moment she called me, saying, “Raja! Now tell me what happened to you today – the whole thing. Promise me you will not leave out anything at all,” the beggar dropped all that made him look like a beggar; now he was a king. Every day I had to promise her, and even though I told her everything that happened, she would insist, “Tell me something more,” or “Tell me that one again.”
Many times I said to her, “You will spoil me; both you and Shambhu Babu are spoiling me forever.” And they really did their job well. I collected hundreds of awards. There was not a single high school in the whole state where I had not spoken and won – except once. Only once had I not been the winner, and the reason was simple. Everybody was amazed, even the girl who had won, “because”, she said to me, “it is impossible to think I could win against you.”
The whole hall – and there must have been at least two thousand students – became full of a great humming, and everybody was saying that it was unfair, even the principal who was presiding over the contest. Losing that cup became very significant to me; in fact, if I had not lost that cup, I would have been in great trouble. Of that I will tell you when the time comes.
The principal called me and said, “I am sorry, you are certainly the winner,” – and he gave his own watch to me saying, “This is far more costly than the cup which was given to that girl.” And it certainly was. It was a gold watch. I have received thousands of watches, but I have never again received such a beautiful one; it was a real masterpiece. That principal was very interested in rare things, and his watch was a rare piece. I can still see it.
I have received so many watches, but I have forgotten them.
One of those watches is behaving strangely. When I need it, it stops. All the time it runs perfectly; it stops only at night between three and five. Is that not strange behavior? – because that is the only time when I sometimes wake up, just an old habit. In my younger days I used to wake up at three in the morning. I did it for so many years that even if I don’t get up, I have to turn in my bed and then go back to sleep. That is the time when I need to see whether I should really get up, or I can still have a little more sleep; and strangely, that is when the watch stops.
Today it stopped exactly at four. I looked at it and went back to sleep; four is too early. After sleeping for almost one hour, I again looked at the watch: it was still four. I said to myself, “Great, so tonight is never going to end.” I went to sleep again, not thinking – you know me, I am not a thinker – not thinking that the watch may have stopped. I thought, “This night seems to be the last. I can sleep forever. Great! Just far out!” And I felt so good that it was never going to end that I fell asleep again. After two hours I again looked at the watch, and it was still four! I said, “Great! Not only is the night long, but even time has stopped too!”
The principal gave me his watch, and said, “Forgive me, because you certainly were the winner, and I must tell you that the man who was the judge is in love with the girl who won the prize. He is a fool. I say it, even though he is one of my professors and a colleague. This is the last straw. I am throwing him out right now. This is the end of his service in this college. This is too much. I was in the presidential chair, and the whole auditorium laughed. It seems everybody knew the girl was not even able to speak, and I think nobody except her lover, the professor, even understood what she was saying. But you know, love is blind.”
I said, “Absolutely right – love is blind. But why had you chosen a blind person to be the judge, particularly when his girl was a competitor? I am going to expose the whole thing.” And I exposed it to the newspapers, telling them the whole story. It was really troublesome for the poor professor – so much so that his love affair finished. He lost everything, his service, his reputation, and the girl for whose love he had staked everything – all was lost. He is still alive. Once, as an old man, he came to see me, and confessed, “I am sorry, I certainly did something wrong, but I never thought that it was going to take such a shape.”
I said to him, “Nobody knows what an ordinary action is going to bring to the world. And don’t feel sorry. You lost your service and your beloved. What did I lose? Nothing at all, just one more shield, and I have so many that I don’t care.”
In fact my grandmother’s house had become, by and by, just a museum for my shields, cups and medals. But she was very happy, immensely happy. It was a small house to be cluttered with all this rubbish, but she was happy that I went on sending her all my prizes, from college and from the university. I went on and on, and every year I won dozens of cups, either for debate or for eloquence or for story-telling competitions.
But I tell you one thing: both she and Shambhu Babu spoiled me by their being so attentive. They taught me, without teaching, the art of speaking. When somebody listens so attentively, you immediately start saying something you had not planned or even imagined; it simply flows. It is as if attention becomes magnetic and attracts that which is hidden in you.
My own experience is that this world will not become a beautiful place to live in unless everybody learns how to be attentive. Right now, nobody is attentive. Even when people are showing that they are listening, they are not listening, they are doing a thousand other things. Hypocrites just pretending… but not the way an attentive listener should be – just all attention, just attention and nothing else, just open. Attention is a feminine quality, and everybody who knows the art of attention, of being attentive, becomes, in a certain sense, very feminine, very fragile, soft; so soft that you could scratch him with just your nails.
My Nani would wait the whole day for the time when I would come back home to tell her stories. And you will be surprised how, unknowingly, she prepared me for the job that I was going to do. It was she who first heard many of the stories that I have told you. It was her to whom I could tell any nonsense without any fear.”
(Excerpt from Glimpses of a Golden Childhood)
Glimpses of A Golden Childhood – OSHO Books in English