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Sadhu Baba

The tall, thin, dark man stood at our gate.  He was wrapped in a single, saffron coloured cloth.  He wore an elaborate hair style, rather like the dreadlocks which I once noticed on the London streets.  His forehead was painted with an elaborate tika.  He  carried what seemed like a begging bowl and a picture of his god.

I asked my mother-in-law what I should do.

"Give him one rupee," she advised.  One rupee?  Was she crazy?  You couldn't offer that to anyone nowadays. It would have to be at least five.  So I found a fiver coin and gave it to him.

He indicated that he needed food.  I checked the kitchen.  Yes!  There were a few fresh rotis(unleavened breads)  made earlier by my sister-in-law Tapasya for my parents-in-laws' meal.    I took one roti, found some dry curried vegetable (potatoes and spinach - again made by Tapasya), made a sort of sandwich out of it and gave it to him.  Then he signed he wanted water.  Again I obliged.

Then he demanded a cloth, similar to the one he was wearing.  It took me some time to consult my mother-in-law and confirm that we had no such cloth with us at that time.  My mother-in-law's patience was wearing thin.  He had been given some money and some food.  How could he expect clothes as well?

I came out to tell him that I wouldn't be able to oblige him this time.  To my horror, I noticed my then four year old daughter, Mel, standing inside the gate and in deep conversation with the Sadhu Baba.

"Mel, go inside!" I instructed, rather sharply.  That child had no fear of anyone.  This made me tense.  I finally persuaded our visitor that we had nothing more to help him.  He left eventually.

"What were you talking about?" I asked Mel.

"I asked him if he was Boothu Baba" she replied.  ("Boothu Baba" is a name we picked up from a friend of mine, Urvashi.  If the children didn't eat their food or listen to their mother, she said, Boothu Baba would come and take them away).

"What did he say?" I asked.

"Oh, he told me he wasn't Boothu Baba," she replied happily.  "Isn't that great?"

"Don't believe everything you hear," I replied.  "You shouldn't trust people you don't know!"

Well, what else could I say?


  1. Children, are always children! I used to be just like your little child. never affraid to approach strangers :)!

  2. Today I read your Write Away blog. I agree writing is therapy. I have several pieces I have been working on in my own writing. Your story about the man at the gate today is a great story. You painted great pictures. Enjoy the day and I wish you inspiration,

  3. Got to love Mel, she is a great kid (young girl:) I love the way children are not afraid; as we grow older we start to fear so many things. Some justified, some not at all.;)

  4. It is a sad reflection on our times that you are afraid of your child talking to a saffron clad sadhu. And you are right, as there are many fraudsters masquerading as sadhus and doing unsadhulike things.

    In the traditional Indian system, the sadhu can beg only from three houses each day and in each house can call attention only three times. If in all the three houses he draws a blank, he starves that day.

  5. It is good that children loves people, but this world is rather dangerous. You said the right thing. I don't think scaring kids will keep them safe, but telling them to be careful is a good thing. It doesn't mean you shouldn't trust people... it only means that you should be careful and that your trust has to be earned by strangers...

  6. Kids are great!
    He really was a cheeky beggar ;-)
    Thanks for dropping by, I was in Scotland (I think) visiting family when I got your message, my mum says she finds blogger easier so Knittnkitten is going back to Cat's World.

  7. children never has any suspicion.... That's the great thing of being them...and sadly also one of the dangerous things nowadays...


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