Toward the end of
February the days grew warmer, foretelling the burning heat that in
a few weeks would bear down upon the fields and villages of Bengal.
It was still pleasant to lie in the sun, which Sri Nag often did,
his whole body alert now for the vibration of a certain footstep, a
footstep that about a year earlier had presaged a total change in
his life, turning it, as it were, upside down and around, bringing
him an unaccustomed peace and joy; yet bringing him also a strange
discomfort of being. He had questions to ask the sadhu; but more
than that, he longed for his touch, for his glance, for his very
presence even though he say not a word. 'Please
come, dear sir; please come!' The prayer said itself above
the constant murmur of his mantra.
And then one day
that long awaited footstep shivered through Sri Nag like all the
clarions of heaven. It was he! There was no mistaking that majestic
yet springing step and the accompanying thump of the staff. Sri Nag
tried to glide forward to greet his guru, but he found himself much
too weak to move more than a slow two feet or so. But the sadhu's
stride was quick, and soon he was standing there, a golden man.
sir!' Sri Nag said and laid his head on his guru's sandaled
The sadhu stroked
the cobra's head and then exclaimed, 'Whatever
has happened to you, my son! You have grown so thin, and your skin
is torn and dull like a slum dweller's. Are you ill?'