The Chapati

I have no class distinction, said the Night Watchman. I have sat down with many different people from all walks of life, not limiting how I expect people to be by pre-judging them.

Actually I remember just such an occasion once when I was young and stationed in India. Unlike other men I had arranged my duties to take three weeks on and three weeks off. With a knife down one boot and a revolver down the other I would simply wander off into the Bush for three weeks.

There was a time on my travels when I remember coming across an old farmer. It was evening time, and he was sat down preparing his meal with brass pots. He looked at me, and I looked at him. Then, in cultured English he said, “In a moment I will make an exquisite cup of tea. I am absolutely sure you will want to sit down and share this meal with me.”

I was stunned, especially as we had met in the middle of nowhere. I sat down and he offered me a chapati. “Thank you very much,” I said. And being a Westerner, I took the bread and went to put it in my mouth.

He smacked it out of my hand. “You do not eat my chapatis unless first you break off a piece and pay back for what we have been given,” he told me. As I waited he sprinkled water onto the ground. Then he broke off pieces of chapati and threw one to the East, another to the West, a piece to the North, and one to the South. When he had done this he said, “Here now is your chapati.”

I asked him why he had done this and he answered, “Young man, everything we are originally comes from the Earth, from the food your mother ate that gave her sustenance as you formed in the womb, to what we ourselves must eat to live. It is a table of plenty from which I came and from which this food came. If you do not give something back, how will that which gives you everything know that you are pleased? Is it not necessary to make a sign that you will not grasp and take everything?” What he said held me spellbound. And in that moment I began to see I must pay back to Creation for my existence.

The Night Watchman looked through the flames to far off places and earlier times. Not wishing to disturb the moment, the young lad quietly slipped away and set off home.

Reproduced by kind permission of the copyright holder, Gemstone Press

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