Secret adventures with the messenger

It is very hot in India, but since our bank used to serve many Europeans, my father was influenced by European culture and he always wore a real suit and occasionally a tie. In the evening, when he came home and took off his jacket, quite often I used to steal money from his pocket—a few paise, much less than a few cents. I felt no need of asking him or telling him; I just took it. Do not follow my example or you will be put in jail!

Whenever my mother caught me, she would always scold me. She used to worry that when I grew up I would steal from others, but my father used to tell her, "No, Madal will not do that kind of thing; he will not go that far." Then, when my father used to go out of town, inside the same jacket he used to put much more money for me to take.

With this money I used to buy lozenges and go and give them to the workers at the bank. Some of them were big shots. They were very, very fond of me. One of them had white hair on his head and on his face. To me, he looked so beautiful! I liked his hair so much. All the others had black hair, but his was all white. I wanted to have hair like that, so I asked him, "How can I also have white hair?" His answer was, "Wait for a few more years!"

Anyway, after the accident on the bicycle, my father and my brother were always watching to make sure that I did not go with Phani on his bicycle. So Phani and I decided to have a special signal. He used to do something cleverly with his hand. If he was going in one direction to deliver messages for the bank, he would use the special signal to tell me to go in the opposite direction and wait for him. He would ride four or five blocks in the other direction, in case my father and Chitta were watching. Then he would come all the way back to pick me up. His destination was one way, and he would very nicely go in the right direction, but then he would come back and get me. He was supposed to go to so many places, but he wasted time coming back for me.

Then, while we were returning from doing so many errands, he would leave me at a particular spot and he would approach the bank from the opposite direction just to prove I had nothing to do with him.

My father and brother were so smart. They knew that I was fooling them, but they could not catch me red-handed. So we were saved. Whenever my father and my brother asked me where I was going, I would simply answer, "I am just going to buy some sweets."

One more story I wish to tell about my father. Every morning, the barber used to come to shave my father. Also he used to pare my father's nails, polish his shoes, everything. Sometimes he was absent. On the days when he did not come, my father used to do everything himself. Then he used to put the coins that he would have given the barber inside a big jar. He said this money was all for me. The same amount of money that he was supposed to give to the barber, he kept for me. That was my father. My mother did not allow me to use it. Then, after my father's passing, it became mine.

My mother belonged to the world of worries, whereas, my father belonged to the world of poise, poise. My mother was full of worries that I would do something wrong, but my father had so much confidence in me. My father was made of confidence —- confidence in his child, confidence that I would become a good person. And my father was right.