The train journey13

There was once a very great man who came from a very rich family. He was a great seeker, a seeker of the highest order, and to the whole of Bengal he was the very embodiment of truth. Countless people admired him, loved him and adored him, and felt he was a saint.

One day he took his youngest son with him on a train ride from Calcutta to Bombay. He bought a full-price ticket for himself and a half-price ticket for his son, who was eleven years old.

After the train had been going for some time, the ticket collector entered into their compartment and asked for their tickets. When he saw the half-price ticket for the boy, he was a little bit hesitant, for the boy was very tall for his age, and he looked much older than eleven years old. But the ticket collector didn’t say anything. He just marked the ticket and left.

After two hours another ticket collector came. He also hesitated because he too thought that the boy was over twelve years old, since he was so tall and smart looking. But he didn’t say anything either.

After some time, these two ticket collectors brought the station master to the man’s compartment, and the station master asked to see the tickets. The station master was so ignorant. He did not realise that this man was well known for his greatness and goodness.

By this time the man was very mad. So many times these ticket people were bothering him! “All right, see the tickets!” he said angrily.

The station master said, “This boy is a minor? How old is he?”

The man said, “Eleven.” The station master said, “No. You are telling me a lie.”

The man, whom all of Bengal worshipped as the embodiment of truth, said to himself, “What will you do with these ignorant people? It is useless to argue with them.” So he paid the difference in the fare to the station master, saying, “Take it!”

The station master gave him a full ticket for his son, and returned his change. When the station master gave the great man his few rupees of change, the man became so furious that he threw the money on the floor and it all scattered.

Then the station master felt very embarrassed. “What a scene I created for one ticket for a young boy and a haughty old man!” he said to himself.

Because of the commotion, many people came running to see what had happened. What they saw was the great sage and saint of Bengal, Devendranath Tagore, Tagore’s father. And the young boy was Tagore himself.

GIM 53. 15 January 1979