Short Stories

                           

                                The Tears of A Mother

A very long time ago, before God invented the dictionary of words, he sat down and started to create the first human beings. In no time, he produced the writer, the doctor, the moderator, the builder, the vegetable seller  and many, many others. Last he set out to make the mother

An angel, who was watching God at work, asked:

“Why do you keep the mother last on the list? She should be the first.”

God answered “It’s not going to be an easy task. For the mother, I have to make more than one pair of hands.”

“Why?” asked the curious angel.

“She needs many pairs of hands as she will have to clean the house, check the temperature of the kid who is down with fever, put the dirty linen in the washing machine, answer that phone call and check her email to know how her eldest son is doing abroad and all at the same time!”

“Oh!

“That’s not all! She will need a few pairs of legs too, to rush to school to drop one kid, to take the other one to the dentist, to run to the market, to collect that parcel from the post-office and all at the same time!She must also have an extra pair of eyes in her back to watch the kids when they are in their room and see that the roast is not burnt whilst she is peeling the potatoes. Her lap must be larger than the average to cradle more than one at a time” continued God “her voice must be hard enough to scold and sweet enough to console.”

“That’s all?” the angel wanted to know”

“She must not only be an example of virtue but she must also be endowed with a few defects – spoiling, smothering, overfeeding her child and doing his home work when he is falling asleep to name a few.”

“She is hard to the touch!” said the angel”

“But as soft as butter inside!” answered God.

“Oh! Oh! God! There is a defect in your manufacture” remarked the angel “look here, there is a leak – water is running down the cheeks.”

“The tears! Of course! This is how the mother expresses her joy, her grief, her relief, her disappointment, her happiness, her sorrow and all her innermost feelings. But mind you, I did not make the tears. No! ! No! !  She made the tears herself.”

Anita Bacha

The Tears of A Mother

                           

 Harry and Krishna

Once there was a little boy who lived with his poor, widowed mother in a far away village.

His name was Harry. During school holidays he had no friend with whom to play. His mother was a loving woman and played with him when she was not busy with her household chores. One day, however, she fell ill and Harry became very lonely. His mother consoled him and told him to go out and play with Krishna.

‘Who is Krishna?’ Harry asked his mother.

‘Krishna is the friend of all!’

Harry rushed out eagerly calling ‘Krishna! Krishna!’

‘Hello!’ said a cow herd boy coming from behind a tree ‘why are you calling my name?’

“Let’s play!’ Harry uttered with joy.

They played together during the school holidays.

Back to school, Harry told the school master about his new friend, Krishna. The school master listened to his story but did not believe a word of it.

Soon it was the birthday of the school master. Harry became very sad; he had no money to buy him a birthday present. His mother then reminded him of his friend Krishna.

‘Go and  talk to your friend Krishna’ she told Harry, ‘he will surely help you!’

Harry did as he was told and Krishna gave him a pot of butter milk.

‘Here! This is a birthday present for your school master!’

Unfortunately, the school master was not happy with the present. He scorned at it and asked his servant to throw the milk curd away. The servant complied but amazingly, the pot was filled with milk curd again. After several attempts to empty the pot, he ran to the school master to tell him about the incredible happening.

‘What!’ the school master exclaimed ‘it is a magic pot!’ He immediately summoned Harry and asked him about the source of the pot.

When Harry replied that his friend Krishna gave it to him, the school master asked him to take him to Krishna immediately.

‘I want to see your friend!’ he exclaimed.

 The school master followed Harry to the place where Krishna was meeting him. At the top of his voice, Harry called for his friend but Krishna did not appear. Then from behind a tree, they heard a voice

‘Why are you calling me Harry?’

‘My school master wants to see you’ he replied.

‘No one can see me unless he believes in me, Harry! The school master does not believe in me!’

The school master was bowled over. He returned to the school with his tail between his legs.

Anita Bacha

Spiritual Education  and Storytelling

In 2009, I was invited to attend the Annual Balvikas Gurus and Parents Meet at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Curepipe, Mauritius. As usual, I was early. While I waited for a cultural program by Balvikas children to start, I sat cross-legged on the floor in the midst of anxious parents who had come to have their young children admitted to the Balvikas classes and I read attentively the program which a Seva dal had handed out to me. I was blessed, I thought, to have had ample time to  look closely at the detailed program of education offered by the Sai Spiritual Education.

Sai Spiritual Education lays the foundation for children, the adults of to-morrow, to learn about the universality and diversity of religion and how to appreciate each other’s culture and understand that love binds people together as a human race.

“In fact, spiritual education is the only true education which establish the existence of God” Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

My kids are now adults. It has been decades since they left Balvikas classes, which they enjoyed to the hilt, to pursue academic studies. Nevertheless, it was nice to recall that Sai Spiritual Education is an eleven year program for children between the ages of 4 to 15 years. The moral and spiritual education classes are meant to help children develop their innate qualities of Truth, Righteousness, Love, Peace and Non-Violence through the medium of stories, songs, prayers, silent sitting/tuning-in and group activities.

Story-telling is an integral part of the syllabus. It is described as “A time for the children to listen and to learn. Stories capture their imagination’.

My mind then wandered away. I saw myself in the midst of the Mahila Group (Women Group in the Sai Organization) telling stories to women of all ages and of all walks of life. They were very fond of stories. No wonder, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has had loads of captivating stories for them compiled in a book called the ‘Chinna Katha’.  My sojourn in the organization has taught me, apart from many wonderful lessons, that women are matter of fact grown up children

 Stories when told with love and devotion have the effect of a healing therapy. They help  the addressee to relax and to switch his mind off anxiety, fear, panic attacks and other psychological problems. They suffuse the mind with peace and bliss.

Anita Bacha

The fox and the rose

I met a young German woman in Paris last summer. Her name was Rose. She had every reason to bear such a lovely, adorable name. We shared many ‘likes’- FB, writing, reading and Indian food. Over a hot and spicy vegetarian meal, she confided in me that she was in love with an Indian guy. Unfortunately, the feelings were not reciprocated. The Indian guy, she told me, was the fox in the tale of St. Exupery. This is how the story unfolds

‘Once, a fox came down a valley of roses;

He approached a rose and gently whispered to her –

You are the most beautiful rose in the world!

The rose replied – No, sir! You are mistaken!

We are all of equal beauty!

The fox, blinded with love, went on his knees and mumbled inaudibly –

No! You are the most beautiful of all!

The fox was so very deeply in love,

In the whole valley covered with thousands of roses

He had eyes for only one rose; His chosen one!’

I noticed big, salty tears running down her rosy cheeks of Rose and falling in her plate.

Rose! You’re crying! I exclaimed.

It’s the gravy! It’s too hot! She lied, wiping her tears. Anyways, she added woefully, I am not the rose of the fox. His rose is the most beautiful rose in the valley!

I nearly choked with sadness but was unable to console her. I promised her from the core bottom of my heart that she will find her fox too. We parted.

As I strolled down Place de la Republique, these comforting thoughts crossed my mind –

Women are fragrant roses in the valley of God;

For every rose there is a fox down the valley

Who loves her more than anything in the whole world

Anita Bacha

Red Rose

Gandhi and the Shoe

 A long time ago when he was a young barrister, Gandhi Ji, was travelling by train in a remote part of India.

As the train moved along sluggishly, one of his shoes accidentally fell on the railway track.

Undisturbed Gandhi Ji removed the other shoe from his foot and dropped it on the rails.

Surprised by his incomprehensible action, a fellow passenger exclaimed

‘Why did you do that?’

‘The one who finds the shoes can use them!’ was the spontaneous and wise reply.

The wise one sees only the positive side of a situation.

Anita Bacha

Potana the Devotee of Rama

Potana was a great poet. He was also a great devotee of the Hindu God Lord Rama Chandra. Potana drew his inspiration to write wonderful and fascinating poetry from the Lord Rama Chandra Himself. He surrendered himself entirely to Lord Rama and he composed the epic Bhagavatam on his behalf.

Potana always believed that his poetry and even his whole life were gifted to him by Lord Rama. In short, Potana was a true devotee.

When one day, Potana suffered from acute poverty and found it hard to make both ends meet, his brother-in-law Srinatha, who was also a great poet , advised him to dedicate his works to the King and make a comfortable living with the money and jewellery gifted to him by the latter. Potana refused to do so, saying that he would take refuge only in Lord Rama. Instead, he decided to live by cultivating a small piece of land.

One day, Srinatha was going by the side of the fields in a palanquin, he saw his brother-in-law Potana working laboriously his plantation. He derisively passed a comment on Potana and addressed him as ‘Haalika!’ meaning farmer. ‘Are you ok?’

Potana gave an apt reply in saying:

‘How does it matter if I am a farmer? I feel it is better and nobler to make a living by farming than dedicating my poetry to earthly kings and living upon their charity. That gives me great satisfaction!’

“Earning money is not something great. Even a beggar can earn a lot of money. Money comes and goes; morality comes and grows”- Quote Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Anita Bacha

 

Two Men and A Bear

Two friends, Titto and Miko, were quietly cutting wood in a forest when they saw a grizzly bear; bewildered, they looked at each other, realizing the imminent danger. But the bear did not see them and continued to hang around. In no time, Titto, who was younger and sturdier hurriedly climbed up a tree, leaving his friend behind. Miko was too old and too slow to follow him.

“Help me up, Titto!”He cried out pleading to his buddy.

But the selfish and callous Titto did not pay heed to him and continued to climb higher and higher to hide and to protect himself from the bear.

Miko was distraught. He knew that if he took to his heels, the animal would spot him and surely kill him. Big, salty tears started to run down his cheeks as he prayed to God for help. Suddenly a wise and brilliant thought crossed his mind. He threw himself on the ground, lay flat and motionless on his stomach.

The bear came, walked around him sniffing, did not touch him and walked silently away.

 After that, Titto climbed down the tree. He went up to a lifeless Miko, who was still lying on the ground and excitedly asked –

“What did the bear tell you? I saw him smelling you and whispering in your ear!’

 Having learnt his lesson, Miko replied –

“The bear shared an invaluable secret with me. He told me these golden words – ‘A true friend never leaves you when you are in danger!’”

– Anita Bacha –

Lord Rama and the Frog

Once, the Hindu God and Warrior Prince Lord Rama, was walking in the forest. He was stopped by his devotees, both men and animals. They had prayed for a long time and many lives for a close view of the Lord. They all fell at his lotus feet for divine blessings and grace.

 Lord Rama was overwhelmed by the devotion of his subjects and he involuntarily let go of his bow to embrace them, one by one. The bow sadly landed on the tiny leg of a frog, who was a big devotee of the Lord.  However, the frog was mesmerized by the sight of the Lord. He was so very lost in the contemplation that he neither saw the bow landing on his limb nor did he feel any pain. After few minutes, Lord Rama decided to resume his walk; he lifted the bow. Only then did he painfully notice that it was thumping on the little leg of the toad.

“O frog!” said Lord Rama with tears brimming in his beautiful eyes “Why didn’t you draw my attention to this careless action of mine? Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you call for help? ”

“O Rama! You are the self-luminous inner light of my Self” answered the frog with outpouring love “if somebody else had trodden my leg, to seek your help and your assistance, I would have called your name. As it is, you and I are one soul.  Therefore, when you are the very one who is trampling on my puny limb, when you are the one giving the pain and suffering, who’s name am I going to call?”

Lord Rama was enthralled by the pure love of his devotee. He lovingly picked up the warty toad smudged with spittle, lying at his feet. With one gentle stroke of his hand, he relieved him of mortal pain.

A true devotee of God is immersed in the Lord always and in all ways. As love of God grows, indifference to worldly things, bodily pain and pleasure develops naturally.  Love for God confers Eternal Bliss. Love for worldly and sensual pleasures confers Ephemeral Blitz.

Anita Bacha

The Way to God

Once, a preacher arrived in a new village. He was there to talk to the local people. He spent the night unpacking his luggage and settling down.

The next morning, he sat down and wrote a letter to his family; then he went out to post the letter. He looked for the post-office but could not find it. He saw a little boy playing on the street and he asked him for the direction to the post-office. The little one smilingly took his hand and led him to his destination. The preacher posted the letter .He was very impressed by the little boy’s cleverness and before he took leave of him, he said

‘I thank you for showing me the way to the post office. Come to my church to-morrow, I will show you the way to God.’

The little boy simply replied -‘How can you show me the way to God, Sir, when you don’t even know the way to the post-office?!’

God is in every heart! Look within!

– Anita Bacha –

GOAT STORY

One day, an old and worn-out goat was quietly crossing over a bridge under which a river was flowing. Coming in the opposite direction gallantly, was a sturdy young goat. When they reached the middle of the bridge, they realized there was not enough room for two goats to pass. They halted. The young goat said in a threatening voice, ready to come to horns

‘Out of the way you so and so! I am in a hurry!’

The old goat felt the looming sparks of hostility in the air. He had fought several fights in his life and this young goat, he thought, would be K.O in the first round! But wisdom dawned upon him.

 ‘The bridge is made of bamboo and is not solid. What if it collapses during the struggle? We will both fall into the river with dire consequences!’ He reflected.

‘Look here, young chap!’ He addressed his opponent with diplomacy. ’There is no point in fighting! I will lie down on my tummy and you can walk across on my back!’

No sooner said than done, each goat went off on his way happily!

At times, to win a battle, one has to proclaim defeat.

–  Anita Bacha –

A BRIGHTER MIND

 

“Suppose you light an agarbathi in some part of your house, its fragrance can be felt in any part of the house. In the same way, I come to know about your meditation. Your ‘Chaitanya’ is the same as mine. Mine is bright. Yours is dim. My ‘darshan’ brightens your ‘Chaitanya’.The mind becomes brighter by contemplating on me. A brighter mind can see everything clearly.”- Sri Sathya Sai Baba

 

On 02.01.2009, we reached the Chatrapati Shivaja International Airport in Mumbai at 2 in the morning. Toshlen, my adorable, obedient and loving son had readily offered to accompany me to New Delhi where, in my official capacity as Chairman of the National Adoption Council(NAC), I was attending and participating actively 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 03.01.2009 to 07.01.2009.  As the only flight from Mauritius to Delhi operated by Air Mauritius was scheduled on 05.01.2009, the NAC had booked my air ticket for the 01.01 2009 so that I could arrive in time for the Opening of the Congress on 03.01.2009. Obviously, I had no choice but to fly from Mauritius on New Year’s Day leaving behind my family and my grand-children who had arrived from Norway on the eve. When Yana, my granddaughter, held my hands firmly and asked me with tears brimming in her eyes:

 ‘Dadi (grand-ma), do you really have to go?’

I replied “yes, beta (darling), I have to go for those who don’t have a Dadi, a Mama or a Papa.’

From Mumbai, we had to catch the Air India Flight to Delhi at 04.45 am. Due to a gross misunderstanding, I was under the impression 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. Toshlen, as always, 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 Mukeshjiin 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.

All the Air India counters were closed. Was there any announcement on the departure boards? Alas! The Air India Flight which we had booked was not posted on any of the departure boards. Tosh had the insight to screen his e-ticket closely. I could read the disappointment on his face as he gasped that the flight was leaving from Terminal Two at the International and not the Domestic Airport. I immediately grasped the enormity of my blunder. Indian Airlines and not Air India operated domestic flights. The soft-spoken Tosh can really metamorphose into an appalling being when he is 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 on us. Nevertheless, we did not lose hope; Tosh 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 Tosh’s jacket were also on the trolley.

Sometime after, Tosh shouted for me and asked me to follow him with the trolley. We went outside the Terminal Building and there, in the airport compound, several cabs were waiting and the drivers rushed to us saying ‘Taxi! Taxi!’. Tosh talked to one of the drivers and hurried 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 control. I asked Tosh 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 went to sit inside the car. Tosh 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 as the local drivers often do with foreigners to make money out of their vulnerability. Finally, we reached the airport. Toshlen 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, Tosh 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 had given to my new lap-top. I fell in love with Prema Sai when he caught my eyes in one of the big computer stores in London when I was there last August for the birth of my grand-son. I refused categorically to look at other beautiful, ultra modern and high-tech computers. I had 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’s gone! How? Where? When?  Neither I nor Tosh had the faintest idea. My mind turned to  Baba and 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 my lap-top!”

In turn, I repeated it to Toshlen who replied that it was impossible unless I had taken 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, Tosh boldly said:

 ‘Well, it’s gone! Don’t grief! It’s a material loss!’

We joined the queue to check in. A fellow passenger told us that the flight was delayed and would depart at 08h.00. Some non believers may say that Air India Flights are always delayed, but I knew that it was divine intervention. 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”.

Toshlen would not listen to reason. It would be a total waste of time, he argued. On the other hand, I felt that I should listen to the voice of the God within. I left the luggage with Tosh and went to look for a policeman. I walked swiftly to the far end of the building. Incredible but true, I saw a young police officer. He was walking briskly in the opposite direction. I called out:

 ‘Excuse me!’

 He stopped abruptly, turned to look at me and said:

‘Yes!’

 I ran up to him. He was my savior! An angel disguised as a police officer or was it Baba himself?

In a few words, I told him how I had lost my personal 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 I 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 both Tosh and I 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 cynically:

‘These days you don’t stand a chance in Bombay! Your lap-top is gone!’

 I thanked him and left with Tosh. 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, Tosh alighted from the auto rickshaw and went to look for the Security Officer who had recorded our name and the plate number of the cab. 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 Tosh 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’ 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, 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’. I did not answer. My mind was with the Lord and I thanked him profusely.

 ‘You are GOD, my Baba!’ I told him with love and with piety.

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 gently 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 shawl were all there, intact. I thanked the Principal Security Officer and the cab driver. I proceeded to leave the premises followed by Tosh 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 have had to con you 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 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 destination.

 Prema Sai and I were re-united, by the Grace of Sri Sathya Sai Chandra! The Giver, the Merciful and the Protector!

However,  later when we were about to go through the ‘Security Check’, Tosh emptied his pockets in the tray placed next to the hand luggage scanner for the coins ,mobile phones and other metal objects of boarding passengers. Alas! His cell-phone had disappeared from the pocket where he had kept it. We went back to the lounge and looked for it thoroughly. It was nowhere to be found.

I refrained from saying, like Tosh did earlier, that it was a material loss. I knew the pain of losing something valuable. Deep inside, I felt that Baba, the Almighty, wanted Tosh to misplace certain contact numbers which were bad for him…for his spiritual growth. I thanked Baba with all my heart for taking good care, not only of me but of my darling son. Another prayer had been answered!

Baba knows everything about each and every one of us. How does he know? In 1983, when the Sports meet was going on in Puttaparthi, Baba asked the participants about the various programs. Before they could reply, Baba gave them a detailed account of the various sports activities. Astounded they looked at Baba in wonder, as he explained his omniscience to them.

 

Anita Bacha

**********************

 SERVICE IS MORE FRUITFULTHAN PRAYER

Zillions of pilgrims flock to Kasi, where there is a shrine of Lord Shiva. It is believed that those who visit this sacred place will gain ‘moksha’ liberation and will escape the cycle of life and death. They will in other words, win a place in Kailasa, the abode of Shiva.

 In Kailasa, Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, apprehensively, asked the Lord

‘So many people are worshipping you in Kasi, but will Kailasa be big enough to accommodate all of them?’

Lord Shiva replied

 ‘All of them cannot come to Kailasa, dear! I will design a drama and show you who are  the folks who will win my Grace and ultimately come to Kailasa. We will both act in this drama.’

Lord Shiva and Parvati then disguised themselves and came down to Kasi. Parvati, as a shriveled old hag, sat on the step of the Shiva temple and Lord Shiva, as a wizened old man, lay thirsty and crying for water in her lap.  Pilgrims were carrying the sacred water of the Ganges in silver vessels to pour on the Shiva Lingam in the temple as an offering to Lord Shiva. She wept and implored them to drop some water in the lips of her poor husband. Some looked at her pathetically and walked their way. Others said that they would bring some water only when they return from prayers and offerings to God. No one was willing to use the sacred water which they had collected to quench the thirst of the old mendicant. In their mind, it was meant for God and it would be a sacrilege to offer it to him.

 Coincidentally, among the pilgrims, there was a thief who was hurrying in the temple to pick a few pockets. He heard the plaintive voice of the old woman and he stopped. He asked her what was the matter and she explained, adding that she could not leave her husband to fetch water as he could die any moment. Moved by the plight of the wretched couple, he got hold of his gourd. Earlier he had filled it with the water of the Ganges. The woman stopped him, in saying

‘Before you give my husband a drop of  sacred water, please say a word of Truth in his ear!’

The thief could not understand the woman and he asked her to explain what she meant. She replied

‘ My husband will probably breathe his last as soon as the water wets his throat .Speak a good deed that you have done in your life when you offer the water!’

 He looked at the woman helplessly and said

‘Mother, I am a thief and I live by stealing others. I have never done a good act in my life. Offering water to this old man is my first good action.’

In so saying, he placed the gourd to the lips of the old man and poured a guzzle of water.

Then and there, the old couple disappeared and in their place stood Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in all their majesty, blessing the thief.

‘Son!’ Lord Shiva said ‘Life is meant to be dedicated to others, not to the self. Despite all your past wrongful acts, you have to-day performed a good deed by offering water to an old vulnerable person and you have spoken the truth. We grace you with this vision! Remember there is no morality higher than truth; there is no prayer more fruitful than seva (service to others)!’

Anita Bacha

Shiva Parvati

2 thoughts on “Short Stories

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