One day as I was practising Tabla, Guruji suddenly asked me to bring his Vespa Scooter out. It was around 3 in the afternoon!
As he came out, he asked me to start it and drive. I was just wearing a casual shorts and a T-shirt. I asked him if should I change, and he nodded “no”! He seemed in an unusual hurry and not his usual calm and relaxed self.
Without having the courage to ask him where we were going, I just drove out straight. Anyway, soon enough, he directed me to a location where I had never been to before. There, he asked me to park the vehicle on one side of the street and we shifted to a Rickshaw!
We kept moving from wide roads to narrow lanes till there was no way you could move any further, other than walking. So, after a point, we paid the rickshaw puller and started walking. Guruji at the front and myself behind him.
I was wondering all the time, “Where are we headed?” I had not even been to that part of the city in so many years. And Guruji seemed to be lost in some thought, which was not easy to decipher.
We finally reached a small house in one of the lanes. I had no clue where we were by then. Anyway, as we entered, two young men on seeing Guruji touched his feet in reverence and asked, surprised, how he was visiting them?
Guruji asked them about their father and said, “I wish to see you father.”
Soon enough, a really old man came out, whom Guruji referred to as “bhaiya” (a term for someone elder than you). After the exchange of pleasantries, the old man asked what had brought Guruji to his doors after so many years?
I was myself eager to know the purpose of such a hurried and secretive trip. As Guruji told this man how his elder daughter was to be married in a few days time and how he had lost the key to his safe and needed it badly now, I could not help but almost sigh in dismay to the sure futility of such an effort.
So what is this old man going to do about your key, Guruji? This was the question that I would have loved to ask him... not that I did, though!
So here is an old man who seems so frail that if he is able to take care of himself that should be good enough. He definitely doesn’t seem to be remotely connected to any kind of Police dept… He also doesn’t seem to be the fittest of locksmiths, either! And here are we asking about our key?
On hearing this, the old man instructs his sons to get him an even older register. He asks Guruji certain questions about when he thinks he last had the key, what color the key or key chain were, and some very simple questions, which almost had me giggling. How on Earth are these questions going to tell him where the key is now?
Then the Old man sat about doing some scribbling in this register of his and within like 2 minutes, or probably even less, he looked up, smiled, and said, “They are in your bathroom.”
I was ready to break into a huge bout of laughter, but somehow managed to hold on and save myself from sure death at the hands of my Guruji. On hearing this, my Guruji also expressed his doubt, saying that he himself cleans his bathroom and thus could not have missed the key there.
But the Old Man could not be prodded into anything more, he was confident and not ready to discuss this any further. He offered us both Lassi.
By now I was more curious to run back home and prove this man wrong than anything else.
The route back seemed longer to me…!
On reaching back, Guruji called his youngest daughter and told her what that man had said and asked her to go with me and check his bathroom. I almost ran towards it.
She took one section of the bathroom and me the other… as we looked through, I suddenly heard her exclaim within a minute or so, “Ah, found it!” I rushed towards her side and yes, there she was dangling the key chain in her fingers and showing it to me.
“Where did you find it?”, I asked.
“Here under the cover of the soap case.” Was her simple answer.
So there was the key with the key chain et al. lying under the cover of the case, at the exact place where the man had predicted. I just couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. The experience of what I had just witnessed first hand was a little too much to sink in quickly. Here I was, a so called, modern, educated young man and here we were finding things as if by magic!
I had heard about these strange practices and art or science (don’t know which category these things falls under…), but to see something like this with my very own eyes was an experience that I will never forget. If there is someone out there who can explain how and what that WISE OLD MAN did, I would be happy to have found another GURU!!!!!!!!!!!
It took me many years to realize that Varanasi is one of the most unique cities of the world. I will share many such wow experiences in that city with you when I get time!