Love is like the war
Easy to start
Difficult to end
Impossible to forget
The only kind of love that never ends
Is love that never begins
Love is like the war
Easy to start
Difficult to end
Impossible to forget
The only kind of love that never ends
Is love that never begins
Soft and enchanting music
Opened the gates of heaven;
I tiptoed out of breath
In a garden of gorgeous flowers;
Intoxicated by the scent of the flora
Of all beauty
I tilted slightly
Almost lost myself;
Enthralled by the sweetest of the sweet fragrance
I fell under the charm of the flute player
A TRUTH UNTOLD
Kaki turned sixty-seven last summer. Her children were married and had left home. Her husband, a retired army officer, was more cantankerous than ever before; a wife beater and a bully, he had no one except the docile Kaki upon whom he could vent his erratic and ominous temper. Kaki sought refuge in her childhood memories.
Alas! These memories were far from being joyful and bright. She recalled the often quoted proverb of her mother ‘out of the mouths of babes and sucklings comes forth the truth’. However, Kaki was a special child. She rarely talked, not because sometimes the truth is better left unsaid but simply because she was afraid. She was scared of telling the truth. She was scared of being accused of telling lies.
At an early age, Kaki became aware that she was endowed with a generous dose of acuity. She unwittingly watched and read the faces and mannerism of the people around her. This was how she found out about a sordid affair between her widowed grandmother and the dandy gentleman with the gold chain watch.
Kaki’s grandma was a stern and authoritative woman. She was feared by all. She married a widower when she was fourteen and inherited a family of eight children. She procreate an additional eight kids. When Kaki’s grandfather passed, her grandma was a young woman bursting with feline energy. She heartily accepted to take Kaki under her charge when Kaki’s mother left this world.
The gentleman paid irregular, nocturnal visits to her grandma. When he came, Kaki sat silently on a small wooden bench in the kitchen and shared with the two adults, the warmth of blazing charcoals in the hearth. They talked and laughed at the same time as they enjoyed the home-brewed coffee which her grandma stealthily hid in a tin jar kept in a small cabinet under the stove. The jar was removed from its secret place only on the arrival of the gentleman. Kaki watched them dreamily. On these special occasions grandma was particularly attentive and caring to Kaki. She unreservedly treated her with a bowl of fresh boiled and creamy cow’s milk. A really scrumptious beverage for the child! She slurped the thick drink, licking the bowl clean. She never recalled when she fell asleep and who carried her to bed.
Unhappily, in next to no time, that which looked like a fairy tale to Kaki turned out to be a horror story. One dark and silent night, Kaki was sleeping in her bed; her tiny toes touched what felt like the soft, warm and moist belly of a puppy. She woke up and found the gentleman, in his birthday suit, sleeping soundly at her feet. She sat up in shock! She did not scream; she did not shriek. She was too terrified to utter a sound.
As a consequence of the traumatic experience, she became a victim of severe panic attacks. She dreaded the reunion in the kitchen and she shuddered with anxiety every time she slipped under her blanket. Nervous and wretched, she got into the psychosomatic habit of lying in bed in the fetus posture. The nightmarish incident repeated itself several times in the coming months or probably years. The trust and confidence which Kaki had placed in adults were lost forever. She hated them. As her mental health deteriorated, she became pale, sad, aloof, forlorn and insomniac. But inhibited by an overpowering emotion of fear, she kept quiet about her condition and suffered quietly.
The truth remained untold.
On the other hand, the grandmother of Kaki and the gentleman continued to see each other for a good number of years. No one ever learned about their clandestine liaison.
THE EXPIRED THONGS
I embarked on a spiritual journey last spring and headed towards an ashram in search of self enquiry. My destination was India, a country known for its vast spiritual heritage. I carried in my luggage the minimal personal effects including a pair of old thongs. This search for the Truth of Oneself will, in my mind, be restrictive on personal wants and needs.
Two days after I had rambled around in my old thongs, I noticed that part of the right sole was coming off; I brought it closer to my eyes to have a microscopic view of the damage; I then perceived that there was another problem; the strap which run from between the big toe and the second toe to the right side of the sandal was threading off and thinning. I sadly told myself that the thongs had expired due to old age, wear and tear. It was essential for me to look for new thongs before the expired ones left me half-way. Opportunity knocked when the next morning I walked into a store to buy fruit juice. An array of attractive and colorful thongs was displayed on a self. I tried a few pairs until I fell on one which fitted perfectly.
I settled my bill, removed the new thongs from the box, glided my feet into them and placed the expired ones into the carton to throw away. Strangely, I could not find a dustbin and the expired thongs slept in the box under my bed almost forgotten.
Time passed by. For the festival of Mahashivratri, innumerable pilgrims arrived in the ashram from all over the world. One night, I misplaced my new thongs. I immediately run for the rescue of the expired ones. I had been advised by a physician to walk barefoot which was supposedly a good exercise for different types of inflammation and beneficial for my sore knees, but accustomed to the western way of life, I found it hard to hop around like a grasshopper without footwear.
Eventually, the expired thongs silently resumed their job of transporting me. Every time I came out of a hall or canteen where footwear was not allowed, my eyes fell on them waiting for me, tattered yet so warm. They were serving submissively and devotedly like old wives. I left them here and there, under the nose of everyone but nobody touched them. They were too old to draw attention or to be stolen. Expired they were, in the eyes of all except in mine. What a startling spiritual lesson to learn! Respect and hold on to the old; in times of need, they are the most helpful.
Further, nothing ever happens accidently or mysteriously, spiritual life shows us. For every happening, there is a proper reason. Moreover we are taught that inanimate objects too have feelings and emotions. For instance, it is told in the sacred Hindu book ‘The Ramayana’ that when Lord Rama went to rescue his wife Sita from the demon King Ravana, an army of monkeys came to his help. They built a bridge by plucking mountains from the Himalayas and throwing them into the seas to allow Rama to walk from his land to the realm of Ravana. When the bridge was done, one mountain cried because it was plucked from its original place but not used. Lord Rama then promised the mountain that in his next Avatara, it will receive his blessings. This very mountain was the Govardhana Peak which Rama as the Avatar Krishna lifted on his finger and held aloft for seven days in order to save the inhabitants of Gokul from the devastation of torrential rain.
To cut a long story short, I returned home with the expired thongs, having learnt that self enquiry leads one to detach from people, mundane life and affairs by opening one’s eyes to the deficiencies in them.
– Anita Bacha –
THE POWER OF DIVINE LOVE
On 02.01.2009, we reached the Chatrapati Shivaja International Airport in Mumbai at 2 in the morning. Anil, my adorable son had readily offered to accompany me to New Delhi where, in my official capacity as Director of the Central Authority for Intercountry Adoption, I was attending and participating in a World Congress on the theme: ‘Giving Children a Voice: The Transforming Role Of the Family in a Global Society’. The Congress, organized by the Service and Research Foundation of Asia on Family and Culture (SERFAC) was holding its sessions at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Lodi Road from 03.01 to 07.01.2009. As the only flight from Mauritius to Delhi operated by Air Mauritius was scheduled on 05.01.2009, my secretary had booked my air ticket on January 01 so that I could arrive in time for the Opening of the Congress on the third. Obviously, I had no choice but to fly from Mauritius on New Year’s Day leaving behind my family and above all, my grand-children who had arrived from Norway on the eve.
From Mumbai, we had to catch the Air India Flight to Delhi at 04.45 am. Due to a gross misunderstanding, I thought that we had to board the flight at the Domestic Airport. Hence, exhausted and half-asleep, we boarded the shuttle bus from the International to go to the Domestic Airport. Anil, as usual, was of great help lifting the heavy luggage, pushing the trolley and mostly, cheering me up with a kind word, a charming smile or a silly joke. In the bus, I sort of picked up my depleting energy. The nostalgic film songs, rendered by Lataji and Mukeshji in old Indian movies and which the bus driver was playing on his cassette were a breath of fresh air in the heavily polluted atmosphere of the urban city. The bus stopped to drop passengers at the Jet Airways terminal and then sluggishly moved on to the Air India terminal. We alighted and picked up our luggage. I looked at my watch; we had approximately one hour to check in. We walked leisurely into the departure building and looked for the Air India counter.
To our surprise, all the Air India counters were closed. Was there any announcement on the departure boards? Alas no! The Air India Flight which we had booked was not posted on any of them. Anil was at a lost. It then dawned upon him to check his e-ticket. I could read the disappointment on his face as he gasped that the flight was leaving from Terminal Two of the International and not of the Domestic Airport! I immediately grasped the enormity of my blunder. Indian Airlines and not Air India operated domestic flights. That same soft-spoken youngster could really metamorphose into an appalling being when he was furious! He was raging with anger, running here and there, up and down, to find out how to go back to the International Airport to catch the flight within one hour. The shuttle had left for the International Airport and was expected in forty-five minutes. I was too tired, too upset and too confused to put in a word. Finally, he followed the advice of an airport officer and decided to take a cab to return to the International Airport. However, Fate was playing against us. We did not have any local currency. Nevertheless, we did not lose hope; Anil took the lift to the second floor of the building to change some dollars while I waited for him in the lounge. I stood quietly behind the trolley where we had placed our suitcases; in the tray below the bar-handle I noticed my purse and I knew that my lap-top too was there. Flung over and above the luggage, my winter coat and Anil’s jacket were also on the trolley.
Sometime after, my son shouted for me and asked me to follow him with the trolley. We hurriedly reached outside the Terminal Building and there, in the airport compound, several cabs were waiting and the drivers rushed to us saying ‘Taxi! Taxi!’ Anil talked to one of the drivers and rushed towards his cab. I literally ran, pushing the trolley with the weight of my body. Then suddenly I stopped as I had reached a slope and I could not keep the trolley under my control. I asked Anil to take the trolley from me. While he was doing so, I instinctively and hastily got hold of my purse and my coat. The next moment, two or three men were helping the driver to load the luggage in the car booth. I went round, opened the door and sat inside the car. My son came in turn, followed by the driver. The driver started the engine when an Airport Security Officer knocked on his window and asked where we were going. He wrote the information obtained in his schedule pad and also the plate number of the taxi and our name. ‘For security reasons!’ he flung at us as we drove off.
It took a long time to reach our destination. The cab driver was going round and round in interminable circles as the local drivers often do when the passengers are foreigners to make money out of their vulnerability. Finally, we reached the airport. Anil briefly uttered:
‘No time for trolley! Pull your suitcase!’
I alighted, rushed behind the car, took my suitcase from the driver and pulling it behind me, hurried up the ramp to Gate B, the entrance to the Air India Departure Hall. In the meantime, Anil had settled with the driver and collected his luggage. Soon he joined me inside the building. He stopped and looked at me quizzically. His face had turned white.
‘Where is your lap-top?’ he asked.
I then realized that my lap-top, my Prema Sai was not hanging in the strap bag over my right shoulder!
‘I don’t know!’ I replied as my world came to a still. I was petrified! I had lost my precious lap-top!
Prema Sai was the name I gave to my new lap-top. I fell in love with Prema Sai when it caught my eye in one of the big computer stores of London last August. I refused categorically to look at other beautiful, ultra modern and high-tech computers. I made up my mind at first sight. I bought my lap-top and brought it proudly to Mauritius. Ever since, day and night, I was composing… I was writing…Now, it was gone! How? Where? When? Neither I nor my son had the faintest idea. My mind turned to my guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Living God and Miracle Maker. I appealed to Him.
‘Baba! My Prema Sai is lost, Baba!’ I cried in my heart as I wiped my tears.
My inner voice, the voice of the indweller Sai then told me:
“The cab driver has bolted away with your lap-top!”
In turn, I repeated it to my son who replied that it was impossible unless I took the lap-top to the car and left it behind. But I didn’t. The last time I saw my lap-top, as far as I could remember, it was in the tray at the top of the trolley. Nevertheless I insisted that the driver had furtively snatched the lap-top under our nose. To put a stop to our argument, Anil boldly said:
‘Well, it’s gone! Do not grief! It’s a material loss!’
We joined the queue to check in. My heart was heavy with pain. Unpredictably, a fellow passenger told us that the flight was delayed and would depart at 08h.00. Non- believers would state that Air India Flights were always delayed, but I knew that it was a divine intervention. Sai Baba was opening a door for me; I was not leaving without Prema Sai. My inner voice made itself heard again:
“Go to the police! There is a police post nearby”.
Anil would not listen to reason. It would be a total waste of time, he shrieked. Calm and unruffled, I felt that I should listen to the voice of the God within at all cost. I left the luggage with him and went to look for a policeman. I walked swiftly to the far end of the building. I saw a young man in uniform. He was an army officer. He was walking briskly in the opposite direction. I called out:
He stopped abruptly, turned to look at me and said:
I ran up to him. He was my savior! An angel disguised as an army officer or was it Sai Baba himself?
In a few words, I told him how I had lost my portable computer and that I wanted to report the matter to a police station. He replied that there was one outside the building, opposite the Arrival Lounge and that I should go there.
‘Should we check in first?’ I asked.
‘Come!’ he said ‘I will talk to an air-port officer. You can check in, take your boarding pass and go to the police station. You will be allowed in when you come back!’
He did as he said. So we both checked in. We collected our boarding pass and went outside the building to look for the station. A few yards away, MUMBAI POLICE STATION was written in broad letters on a board in front of a small cubicle.
A few police officers, some in uniform and others in civil clothes were sitting at a table on the pavement bordering the road, outside the station. I related my sad story to them. One guy who was seemingly a High Grade Officer asked:
‘Did you note down the plate number of the taxi?’
To which I replied in the negative but added promptly that a Security Officer at the Domestic Airport did. He also jotted down our name, I added with hope. The Police Officer then advised us to take a three-wheeler and to go there to report the matter. He added mockingly:
‘These days you don’t stand a chance in Bombay, ma’am! Your lap-top is gone!’
I thanked him and left with my son. We had no problem to find an auto rickshaw. There were plenty of them and the drivers were avidly looking for clients. We asked the driver to take us to the Domestic Airport, to wait for us there and then to bring us back to the International Airport.
When we reached our destination, Anil alighted from the auto rickshaw and went to look for the Security Officer. Somehow the driver of the auto rickshaw understood that we were looking for a cab driver and the plate number of his car. Soon he was put into the picture and he started to follow my son as a spirit guide. The Security Officer was found and also the number of the car. However, the cab driver was not there nor was he expected for the day. He had left for home, his friends, the other drivers told us. In my heart, I knew that he had the lap-top, hence the reason he had stopped to work and had gone back to his house. The ‘buddhi’ (intelligence) is a precious mental faculty which we must know how to use, I told myself. Recalling in a flash a passage in the Bhagavath Gita where Lord Krishna says that we can speak an untruth when it is meant to save dharma (righteousness), I astutely told the drivers that I had left my lap-top in the cab of the chauffeur who drove us to the International Airport. One of them immediately phoned the cab driver in question. He did have the lap-top and was willing to bring it back on condition that we pay him a ‘bakshis’ (a stipend). I did not answer. My mind was with the Lord and I thanked him profusely.
The Principal Security Officer arrived on the scene soon after and asked us to wait for the cab driver at his office. It was safer for us to wait there, he politely added. We waited patiently for half an hour. The driver then showed up waving the strap bag containing the lap-top jubilantly. He was accompanied by several other drivers. He asked me to check whether everything was there. I did. Prema Sai, the battery charger, my pen and my Pashmina were all there, intact. I thanked the Principal Security Officer and the cab driver. I proceeded to leave the premises followed by Anil when the driver came up to me in an aggressive manner.
‘You have to give me a bakshis!’ he said and added ‘One Lakh!’
I stared at him and pulled myself together.
‘You stole my lap-top and you dare ask me for a bakshis!’ I retorted to the dumbfounded guy. ‘I had to lie to get it back. I did not, at any time, leave my lap-top in your car. You stole it from my trolley. As a woman of principle, I refuse to give you one single cent!’
These words which I believed Sai Baba spoke through me closed the chapter.
We returned to the International Airport, thanked the rickshaw driver with a generous bakshis and paved our way to the Maharani Business Lounge. We were booked on the International Flight to Hong-Kong which was transiting at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, our final destination.
This thrilling adventure from the start to the end reminds me of the story of Sai Baba the Saint of Shirdi as told by him. The story starts when Shirdi Sai Baba and other young men got lost in a dense forest whilst they were discussing about spiritual philosophy and the need for an aspirant to have a spiritual teacher or guru. When the rest of them refused the guidance of an illiterate woodsman to find their way out of the forest, Shirdi Baba accepted the latter as his guide and he found his way out. The dense forest represents the illusory material world where man is lost. To find his wayout and to self-realization, if and when he is ready he will find a Guru who will guide his every step. The Guru is the voice within. The unbreakable link between the guru and his pupil is devotion, the power of divine love.