Begging for a ballpoint17In the London airport hundreds of people were standing in a queue. I saw one of the airport people sitting at an empty desk reading a newspaper. He had three ballpoints in his shirt pocket. I said to him, “Excuse me, may I use your ballpoint for a minute?”
He said abruptly, “I don’t have one!” And I was looking at the pens in his pocket when he said it. I have never seen such a rogue.
There was such a big line; at least a hundred fifty people were in front of me. I thought, “When I get to the front of the line, they will want to see this card filled out. Since I am wasting my time here, let me ask someone else.” I asked another employee who was nearby, but he said, “When you get to the front of the line there will be someone to give you a ballpoint.” I could see that he also had three or four, but he didn’t want to give me one.
After fifteen minutes I reached the front of the line. I said to the lady who told you which booth to go to, “I don’t have a ballpoint.” She answered, “I am sorry, I don’t have one. Otherwise, I would give you one.” In her case, I saw that she really didn’t have a ballpoint.
Then I saw a middle-aged Indian man sitting with his head in his hands. He was just a passenger waiting for someone. As you know, I have told many stories about Indians who acted like perfect rogues. But my Indian brothers can be of help to me also. I asked this man, “May I borrow a ballpoint?”
He said, “Of course, of course!”
He had a huge bag with so many clothes in it, and he started searching and searching through all his things. It took him two or three minutes to find one. So this is the difference between Englishmen and Indians. I said to myself, “Indians quarrel and fight, but in the time of need they will always try to come to each other’s rescue with a big heart.” I used the pen and returned it to him and thanked him. Inwardly I felt sorry that he was still brooding.
When people at the airport or other places are mean to me, I forgive them and God forgives them. It is just human nature. Then when I tell the stories, I get joy. I tell them in a cheerful way.
WE 17. 20 May 1982↩