an extract from my story THE NIGHT MAN in the book
As the house reverberated with his son’s abuses and his daughter-in-law’s cries, the old man was so repelled that his philosophy of force went down the drain. His disillusionment grew. The great Bose had vanished mysteriously. Hardy principles of politics had been whitewashed by a sloppy new system called Socialism.
Rather than live life by half-measures, he took a neat about-turn.
The village had its moment of utter disbelief when the old man emerged early one morning swathed in ochre robes, his forehead streaming with holy ash. Instead of stern slogans he had words of soft comfort. Instead of righteous anger his eyes sparkled with enlightenment.
He told the villagers, “My children, grieve no more!”
He stood on the platform outside the Vishnu temple. “Be a vulture only if you can fly high, otherwise it’s good to remain a sparrow.”
In the reading room, he announced: “A book is worth nothing until you can see. Don’t read without seeing.”
He stopped by the teashop and made a horrible face startling early-morning tea-drinkers. “Your body’s as good as mine, don’t you think? But what if I ask you to place your head on my feet?”
A reporter of the local Malayalam paper gave him an English title: “Platitude” Pachu Pilla.
One day, he walked into the High School and entered a geography class. Smiling at the students and bewildered teacher, he advised them: “Never catch a fish if you can’t eat it.” Then he said, “Remember, the sky is a land of unknown stars.” The children looked uneasily at each another. “Another thing,” he continued. “When you’re climbing and your feet begin to forget the plains, kindly come down at once.”
Next, he went to the chemistry class. “What’s the opposite of hydrochloric acid?” he asked. The teacher, knowing Pachu Pilla’s past but not his present, thought he was asking a tricky question. “Okay, children, let’s see you answer that one,” she said. Pachu Pilla began to laugh.
He hobbled out of the school, and all the way down to the river. He sat on the sandy slope, laughing uproariously.
It was a day of instruction for the village. After that, Pachu Pilla was confined to his house. If people wanted to consult him on spiritual matters, they came home.
Keshavan grumbled: “Now I’m saddled with a mad father.”
Pachu Pilla said: “My life has just begun.”
His old wife slapped her forehead. “When God plays, He really plays!”