Little Harbhajan Singh liked to climb up to the roof on the topmost story of his family home. From there, he would see far out in every direction – the dry, rolling hills, the fertile plains, the distant, rising mountains. He liked the perspective in his lofty perch, high above the busy people, the lowing beasts and bristling landscape. It gave him a vision above and beyond the typical cadences of time and space, a sense of immortality, a cosmic dimension – something beautiful, vast, and ever present.
Some nights, little Harbhajan would look way out at the stars and space, so far, so near, so all-enfolding. He would wonder about times and distances long ago and far away. He would sit and imagine he was old – very, very old.
One day, some important British people came to call at Harbhajan’s house, so a servant went to fetch the precious three-year-old from his favorite hide-away. One of the booted and hatted callers thought they would indulge the intelligent-looking youngster, his family’s pride and joy.
“Kaakaa, toosee kithay luk ho-ay see?” the Englishman asked affectionately in fairly fluent Punjabi.
“I wasn’t hiding. I was upstairs, looking out from the upper story.”
“Could you see far away? Could you catch a glimpse of the Tower of London?”
“No, but in the sky I saw many stars and distant worlds. They are most wonderful and amazing to see, and much farther than your England. Sometimes I watch the sky from the upper story. It can be bright blue or red. Other times, at night, it is very dark. Sometimes it is clear. At other times it is cloudy. Still it is the same sky, day or night, here or there. It is the same wherever we are.”
“Quite so! Quite right you are, young man!” The officer paused, and then remarked to his companions and the others gathered around, “You know – mark my words – one day this child will be a big one.”
“What do you mean?” asked young Harbhajan.
“Well, my lad, the imagination you have is not the imagination of an ordinary person. You see, the reach of a person’s imagination stakes out the ground of what they are to be, and even I cannot imagine as you do.”
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