A BEAUTIFUL PAGEANT BEING ENACTED BEFORE US
Mehera, Mani, Mehru and Dr. Goher
Baba wore the white robe and the green turban that he had decided would be the attire of his companions in the New Life. Baba said that as this was the start of our walking journey, we women should wear our cotton saris that were bought in Benares. Our walk was to be only for a short distance, from Sarnath to a mango orchard.
Baba and we women went ahead with one of the mandali to lead the way. Just outside Sarnath some police officers overtook us. We women waited under a tree while Eruch was being interviewed by the officers who were very arrogant. Later we found out that, seeing our procession, the police thought it was some political movement and that we were communists. Baba's name had to be revealed and immediately they became very humble and contrite and asked if they could see Him, and when they left, their change of attitude was evident even in their bearing.
Shortly after we reached our first halt. We waited with Baba in the shade of a mango tree for the arrival of the rest of the party that was following the caravan. They arrived later than was expected, but we shall never forget the scene. It was like a beautiful pageant being enacted before us. All the companions were dressed in their white robes and dark-green turbans. First came Dr. Donkin, with an Arab-like headdress, leading the white horse which looked tall and beautiful, walking proudly, without a saddle. Then followed the bullock-carts and the stately camel drawing a cart. The camel had a large size bell round its neck which gave a melodious sound as it walked. Some of the companions were driving the carts while the others were accompanying them on foot. Lastly came the caravan drawn by two bullocks. Gustadji was in charge of the two donkeys which were stubborn and would not walk. They were tied to the caravan and were being dragged. One of the bullocks drawing the caravan was Raja, the English bull which Baba had fed milk from a feeding bottle when it was a calf in Meherabad....
With the arrival of the main party, everyone became active with no time for rest. The animals had to be watered and fed, their fodder to be chopped up. Kaka was in charge of the cooking. Baba told us of the difficulties the mandali had with the animals. The young calves could not walk the distance and the cows wouldn't walk either unless they saw that they were accompanied by their young. The donkeys absolutely refused to budge; so at last they were tied to the caravan and were being pulled along. Gustadji who had been given the orders of silence by Baba for the last many years, could not utter a word, nor encourage the animals to move on.
After Beloved Baba's tent was put up by Eruch, His bedding for the night had to be put in and all His needs seen to for the night. We knew that the tent would be ice cold and had before-hand sewn all the blankets together to form a sleeping bag to provide added warmth. Preparations had to be made for the next morning also for it would be pitch dark and bitterly cold when we rose. Baba wanted an early start.
The mandali slept out in the open under the trees as best they could. To us women the caravan was a boon. We fitted in snugly. Mani, Mehru and Mehera slept on the narrow benches and once we were in our bunks, Goher would spread out her bedding roll on the floor, slip inside and shut the door for the night.
Early in the morning, often before four o'clock, we would be awakened by Baba's knock on the door. Goher would roll up her bedding and she and Meheru would jump out of the caravan clutching their warm clothes, hurrying so Baba would not be kept waiting. Baba would enter the caravan, ask how we had slept and tell us how cold it was outside, that we should take care and put on our warm clothes.
While we washed and prepared hot water for Baba's washing and shaving, we were drawn to the warmth of the open fire like a pin to a magnet. The caravan was well insulated and warm compared to the air outside.
Breakfast: a hot cup of tea was most welcome and with it Baba would give us a chapati or two, anything that we had received in bhiksha the day before. Milk for the tea was provided by the cow. Patil would milk her and Kaka would make the tea.
Mehera would pour the tea for Baba and we would have breakfast.
After tea we would wash up and hurry with our packing as best as we
could with our fingers numb with cold. Baba would then go over to
the men mandali to see how they were faring. They had to tend to the
animals and then to themselves and pack the carts.
THE BEST OF THE GLOW, pp. 164-167, ed. Naosherwan Anzar
1984 © Naosherwan Anzar