Nariman was a good man. He would sit in prayer and connect with God to draw strength and inspiration. He spent a good portion of his time and money in the service of the poor. He would offer his services at the hospital whenever they put up free medical camps. He would buy fresh fruits and distribute them to the poor patients in the hospital. Sometimes he would treat the children in the labour colony to a movie or to ice cream. Each act of service was done as if it was service to the Lord.
One day, he told his teenage son Manit, “Son I am going to the temple today to offer bananas to the Lord. Later I will distribute these bananas to the beggars who sit outside. Why don’t you come with me?”
The boy said lazily, “Oh! Come on Dad! This stuff about going to the temple and praying; this seva activity… it’s not my kind of thing. You are old Dad. This stuff is for oldies. I am young. I am not interested. May be when I am as old as you, I could think about it, but right now…. never!”
The boy re-adjusted his walk-man and swayed his hips to the beat of the rap-music. Nariman heard his son’s statement, but did not retort back. He went out and completed his work of distribution for the day.
A few days later, Nariman bought a huge basket of over-ripe bananas and placed them just outside his house. He went in to bathe. His son happened to spot the basket of blackened bananas and also noticed the insects hovering over them. Some of the bananas were almost rotten and were quite unsightly. Father came out wearing a crisp white kurta-pajama and proceeded to transfer the bananas to his car. The son asked, “Father, where are you taking these bananas?” “To the temple,” replied father, most unassumingly.
“But father, these bananas are rotten. I mean if you want to offer them to God, then at least you should have taken care to buy a fresh lot. They are all gooey and pulpy. They are infested with insects too. It would be a shame to offer them at the temple.”
Father said, “If you can wait to grow old, to offer yourself to the Lord; if you think that you shall be presentable or of any use to the Lord when you are an old man, surely these old and rotten bananas can be offered to the Lord too!”
The son was rendered speechless. He wasn’t able to look his father in the eye. Father knew he had struck the right chord at the right time. He continued, “When you are young and able-bodied, you can work for the Lord. You can offer your services. You can spare some time and money to give to those who are in need. When you are old, your body shall have its own problems. You may not be physically fit enough to do service. You may have financial constraints, for you shall no longer be earning and your expenses may be many. You may not be able to sit in prayer; for who knows, you may be troubled by arthritis or rheumatism. What can you offer then? That time you shall be in need of God’s grace, perhaps more than ever!”
Having said that, father put the last bunch of rotten bananas into his car and drove away. He had made his point. Do you know where he went? He did not go to the temple, for he knew that these bananas were unfit for offering to the Lord. Instead he went to a Gaushala where stray cows were kept and fed the bananas to them. The rotten bananas had done their work!