no, sir,' Sri Nag hastened to reassure his guru. 'I
have been taking a vegetarian diet, that is all.'
vegetarian diet!' the sadhu exclaimed. 'But
your skin? How did it become tattered like that?' 'I
don't know, sir,' Sri Nag truthfully replied. 'Perhaps
just wear and tear.'
There was a
rustling in the grass. Akhu and his colleagues stood there in a row,
listening. 'He let the village boys beat him,'
Akhu said. 'I saw it with my own eyes. It was
a terrible sight, sir; they nearly... '
The sadhu raised
his hand to silence Akhu. 'Is this true?'
he asked Sri Nag.
Sri Nag said, searching back in his memory. He had long since
forgotten the mistreatment he had endured at the hands of the
village bullies. No lingering prod of resentment brought that memory
into focus. He now only dimly recalled the incident. 'Yes,
sir,' he said. 'I think Akhu speaks
truly. There were some boys. But they were just boys, and boys will
have their sport.'
sport!' the sadhu exclaimed. 'And you
let them nearly kill you! What a shame! Has your brain turned to
mush?' His voice and face were stern, but he was looking at
his disciple with love.