Experiences of Hilla Talwar (Maiden Name: Hilla Kotwal)with Meher Baba

Part One

Ruzbeh N. Bharucha

17

“I was first introduced to Baba when I was about four months old. My father was always in search of God and eventually He met Meher Baba and became a staunch Baba lover. My mother, Nergis Kotwal, took her own sweet time in accepting Baba. My father, Savak Kotwal, lost his mom when he was a very young boy. His mother passed over while giving birth to my uncle, my father’s younger brother. My grandfather thought that this new born boy needed a mother or a woman to take care of the child, as he was just a few hours old. So, his maternal aunt began to take care of Soli. My father was left behind with his dad and thus began the story of the wicked step-mother.

   “I know that I should not call anybody wicked. My father would always get very upset if I used such words. I still remember, once, my sister and I, when we were young, heard the story of how our dad had been mistreated by his step-mother. Our mother divulged all this information when my father was not around. He never liked anybody speaking ill of anybody. It seems that my dad was ill treated by his step-mother very badly. You know those typical wicked step-mother stories we read in books and watch in movies. She would beat him up practically every-day and my dad was only a little child. He was around six years old when the thrashing began but my dad would watch his father recite his Zoroastrian prayers with a lot of love and devotion. One day, my dad asked his father, ‘what is love? I want to search for true love’. Imagine, he was barely six or seven years old. He was an old, prepared, soul, my dad. My grandpa told him, ‘son, real love, you can only get from God, don’t look for it anywhere else’. This one sentence remained in my dad’s mind and his search for God began. Even as a child he thought about God and would say, ‘I have got to find this God who will give me love’ because my dad was hungry for love. The ill treatment at the hands of his step-mother continued and it was my dad’s aunt, who brought up Soli, my uncle, who told my mother all about dad’s childhood, just before she and dad got married. She told her my mother that, ‘Savak has had a very bad and traumatic childhood and all he wants is, love and care’. My mother said, ‘don’t worry, I will give him so much love, that he will not have to worry about finding love ever again’. Unfortunately, Nergis, my mom’s love was not enough for dad. He was searching for more. You must understand that he did not hold anything against his step-mother. I remember, once, my sister Najoo, told my dad, ‘oh, your wicked step-mother’; and immediately dad told her, ‘Najoo, don’t ever say such words because she was my first Guru. If she hadn’t been what she was to me, I would never have looked for love. I would never have searched for love. She is my first Guru who lead me to Baba’.”

   “So beautiful.”

   “I was amazed and so touched when Najoo told me this. Anyway, that’s my father for you.”

   “When did your dad first meet Baba?”

   “I am not very good at dates but we have a book called, He Gives The Ocean. This book has our stories.”

   “Super but how old was he when your father met Baba?”

   “He had just got married and my mother was, I think, five years younger than my dad. My mom was nineteen, so my dad must have been twenty-four. There was this man called Pleader, who was a very staunch devotee of Baba. He was a Baba lover. My dad came into Pleader’s company and Pleader told my dad, ‘I will take you to meet Meher Baba who is in Ahmednagar because you have been searching for love all your life and as far as I am concerned, Meher Baba is God on Earth’. All this while dad had kept meeting one Saint after another. He would go to the beach, chowpatty beach and meet the Sadhus there. Those chaps performed strange tricks and he thought that, ‘they are great and that they have seen God’. When he realized that one of them had tricked him of his belongings, he stopped going there. My father was a cashier at the bank and his life was all about work, his wife and his search for God and to experience love from God.  Before he went to meet Meher Baba with Pleader, my dad had visited either Upasani Maharaj or Narayan Maharaj and one of the Maharajs told him, ‘look, I am not the One whom you are searching for. The real One you want is that Irani Baba, Meher Baba, in Meherabad because He is the One’.

   “I think it was Upasani Maharaj who told dad, ‘the Irani Baba in Nagar you should go to Him, for what you are searching’. Anyway, Pleader then told my dad, ‘I have been telling you to come to Meher Baba since a while, so let us go’. The moment my father saw Meher Baba, that was it, it was love at first sight and he fell madly in love with Baba. He found the love of his life; what he had been searching for such a long time. Nergis, my mom, was no more the love of his life,” she began to chuckle. “Mind you, my mother was aware that her love was not enough for my dad and his yearning was for divine love. After meeting Baba, his search for this love ended. He had found his true love. Every weekend he would take the train and go to Nagar and come back on Sunday nights. You can imagine, my mother had no chance to be with my father. I believe that she was pregnant with Najoo and she couldn’t understand her husband’s behaviour as to why he did not want to spend time with her. Was she ugly? Didn’t he like her? She couldn’t fathom what had hit her. Why did he hate her?” she again began to chuckle; a healthy chuckle.

   “Then, one day, she heard that Meher Baba was coming to Bombay. I don’t remember whether it was at Arnavaz Dadachanji’s house or at Manzil-e-Meem. My Najoo has given all those details in the book. Anyway, Baba came to Bombay and He was at this particular place and my mom went there and met somebody there and told the person that, ‘I want to see Meher Baba’ and the disciple said that, ‘Baba is not here at the moment, He has gone out’. So, my mom shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘well, I’ll wait’. ‘But He may take hours to come’, informed the man. My mom looked at him and said, ‘hours! I will stay the night if I have to, as long as I see Him and I am going to just sit on this chair and shall not move from here until I have seen Him’.

   “Fortunately, for her, twenty minutes later, while she had nearly dozed off, she felt somebody pass by and she opened her eyes and saw a figure in white going into the room. She looked up and one of the mandali told her that, ‘Baba has come and He wants to see you’. She went marching in to the room ready for a fight.” Hilla, all of eighty-seven years old, dressed stylishly with beautiful makeup, laughed like a child. “So, my mom goes marching in, gloves on, when Baba says, ‘come, come, sit beside Me’. She said, ‘no, I am not sitting beside You’, and she sat on the chair opposite Him. She looked at Meher Baba and said, ‘so, here is Meher Baba whom my husband is in love with and You have taken my husband away from me, do You know that? You have taken my husband away. I am only nineteen years old. I have got married and I am pregnant and he doesn’t want to look at me. Weekends come and he rushes off to see You. What is wrong with me? What is this, what have You done, what magic have You done on him?’ Baba looked at her and said, ‘I have not come to divide. I have come to unite’. Suddenly, beyond understanding, she began to start crying. She was distraught. Baba went towards her and He hugged her and then my mom said that, ‘the moment He hugged me, I felt that I had found my mother again’. She had lost her mother when she was very young and she too didn’t have a very happy childhood because all her siblings had passed over. She was the only one who was alive. She was very fond of her sister who had passed over last, amongst her siblings. She says that, ‘I just felt that I was being embraced by my mother and my siblings’.

   “You must understand that anybody who comes into Baba’s circle has faced loads of tragedies. You don’t come on a bed of roses to Baba but usually on a bed of thorns.”Hilla laughed aloud again. “Mum would say that, ‘Baba took my face in His hands and He looked into my eyes and I fell in love with Him as well’. Then He said, ‘don’t worry Nergis, I will tell him not to come to Me on the weekends’. Mummy said, ‘but don’t tell Him that I came to see You, he must not know that’. Baba said, ‘don’t worry, I will take care of that’. Then He brushed her tears away and He was so loving that my mother felt as light as a feather. You must understand that Baba was very beautiful… Oh God! He was so beautiful, I cannot begin to describe His beauty. No photograph does Him any justice to how beautiful He looked in real life. He was God, so He won her over.

   “My mom went back and in a short while dad and mom began to bond very happily. Baba had told my dad that, ‘you are not to come to Me now. You come to Me when I call you’. Dad had to obey. We all had to obey. We had no choice. Dad didn’t know that mum had gone and all this had happened because of mom throwing a tantrum in front of Baba.” Hilla laughed.

   “My poor Najoo, my sister, she was a very serious person, not a happy go lucky person like me. I feel the reason behind this is, when Najoo was in my mother’s womb, my mother was miserable, as her husband was always at work or with Meher Baba. When I was in her womb, my mother was truly happy, with her husband and she had found Meher Baba. I can tell you this much, Najoo was a very high soul. She was not an ordinary human being. For me, she was a jewel, one of the jewels in our Baba’s crown. She was born to be Baba’s. She was an extraordinary woman, totally dedicated to Baba. Baba had His nazar on her, since the time mummy had gone to meet Baba and Najoo was in mom’s tummy at that time. My sister and I always had our childish fights. I would say, ‘Baba came home, He took me in His arms, He hugged me, He kissed me and He pinched my cheeks and played with me on His lap, and she would say, ‘but Hilla, He had His first nazar on me when I was in mum’s tummy, not four months old, but when I was in mum’s tummy’.” Saying this, Hilla laughed again. “Najoo was totally Baba’s. She was very devoted to Him. She was born a Baba lover, I wasn’t.” She giggled. “I was worldly but Najoo was only spiritual. I yet feel that when I was conceived and through her pregnancy and my birth, my mother was very happy. Thanks to our Baba, she had her husband and he was very loving to her and to Najoo and to me, things were hunky dory. I was born a very big, healthy, nine-pound baby. My mother had a comfortable child birth too. Not much pain and all that. Dad loved me very much as well. I had a totally different approach to life, where as Najoo was like Mother Teresa. You know what I mean, that type of a girl. Totally, like an ashram type of person. We were polls apart but still extremely close because we had Baba and His love and our talks were usually about Baba. We all had Baba as a unifying thread.

   “Anyway, after a while, my father couldn’t live away from Baba and history repeated itself. My father wanted only to live with Baba and when mum conceived my brother Adi, she and dad were again having issues, as my father only wanted to be with Baba. Thus, even Adi was a sickly child, as my mom went through a lot of depression and angst while Adi was in her tummy. When Adi was in her tummy, my father was living more and more with Baba. He told Baba, ‘look Baba, I am sorry, I can’t stay in this world, with my wife and children and all that; I just can’t do it. If You do not keep me with You, I am going to the Himalayas’. Baba said, ‘if you can find a bigger Guru than Me in the Himalayas, you can go’. My dad said, ‘I have no choice, You don’t want me, what do I do? I don’t want the world, I don’t want to be with Nergis and the children on the condition of being away from You, I just want to go and find my peace someplace else then’. So, eventually, Baba gave permission to my dad to get his family and begin to live with Him.”

   “How old were you at that time?”

   “I was seven, when we began our ashram life. I did not change one bit. I still love to sing and dance, I have always liked looking good, my mom stitched pretty dresses out of whatever saris she found from her suitcase and when I grew up and started using make up, Baba never once told me anything about not using make up or dolling myself. In fact, He always praised me, pinched my fat cheeks and through gestures say, oh, you are so beautiful’ and I, of course, would roam about with a very swollen head. I always thought that I was very beautiful and why not? God called me beautiful.” We both laughed like little kids for a while. “Anyway, when my father wanted to settle down with Baba, Baba said, ‘first ask Nergis, does she want to come and live in the ashram?’ So, my father went to Nergis and said, ‘look Nergis, I want to go away, I cannot take this worldly life and I don’t want my job and I don’t want anything’. He was appointed as the Bank Manager. He was doing well. In those days only the English were made managers. Thus, for an Indian to be appointed as a manager was big stuff. I know one thing, that Baba will always try and tempt you to divert you away from the path. He is too smart but my father had a one track mind. He just wanted Baba. He told Nergis, ‘look Nergis, if I don’t go to the ashram, I am just going to the Himalayas like a yogi. I want to find whatever I am in search of’. Mummy said, ‘okay, but we will take the kids and I will come with you. I don’t want us to live without you’.

   “You must understand that my mother came from a very rich aristocratic Parsi family. She had very rich relatives who would tell her, ‘divorce him, don’t worry, you come and stay with us and we will find you another husband. Don’t you worry! It’s because you married beneath you that all this is happening’.

   “Poor dad. They had never liked dad, as he was only a banker and not from a rich family like my mother’s family. Her father was very rich and a wealthy timber merchant. He wanted her to marry another multi millionaire but she had refused, ‘I am only going to marry Savak’. She had met him at the bank because she would go with all the money which grandpa wanted to deposit in the bank and dad was the cashier at the bank in those days. They met and fell in love.” Hilla chuckled. “Then, my father got on this spiritual trip, met Baba, fell in love with Baba and now, wanted to settle down with Baba in the ashram. No wonder my mother’s family didn’t truly like him. If you see it from their point of view they too weren’t wrong. Nobody wants their daughter to marry somebody who is running after a God in human form and then leave the world and settle down with this God in a humble ashram where life was very harsh and hard.”

   “Yes, I guess so but later on we found out how very beautiful our lives were in the company of our Divine God, Meher. Thus, before marriage too, my maternal grand-father had locked mom up in her room and didn’t allow my mother to go out. He said, ‘no, you will marry whoever I choose for you’. My poor mother had a very tough time with her father and his two older sisters. She said, ‘okay, lock me up but I will not marry anybody else but Savak’. Very Hindi movie kind of a situation.” She chuckled. “One month went by and she was still not allowed to go anywhere. In the end, her dad agreed and said, ‘ok, marry Savak’. So, my mother told Savak, ‘my father didn’t want me to marry you and I fought with him, all because I wanted to live with you and now, you want to go away and live in an ashram, knowing we have three small children’. My dad told my mother, ‘look, I have made my choice, either I go to the ashram or I just go away someplace else. You can stay here with the children and you have your family who are ready to support you, always’. Eventually, my mother agreed on one condition, ‘we all go and live in Baba’s ashram’.”

   “You were seven years old then?”

   “Yes, I was seven years old. My sister was eleven and a half and my brother was only two years old. We met Baba in Bangalore. My parents sold each and every little thing which they possessed and gave the money to Baba. I remember, my mother had a big jewellery box with lovely jewellery and she took that too with her to the Ashram and sold the rest of the things in the house, each and everything for the love of her husband. I remember, we went to Bangalore and Baba was sitting there and they put the packet of money and the jewellery box at Baba’s feet and said, ‘Baba, we have given You everything’. Baba said, ‘are you sure you have given me everything?’ My dad said, ‘yes, each and everything, we have sold even my wedding ring’. Then, suddenly my mother noticed little earrings in the ears of both, my sister and I. They were little swastikas because in India it is for good luck. My sister had her earings with a little ruby in it, I still remember them. I had a plain one. See the difference between Najoo and me. Najoo was so delighted, when mum said, ‘take them out and give them to Baba’. So, immediately she thought that, ‘it is from me, Najoo, to Baba’, but not me, I was not happy. I just took them out and said to myself ‘oh my God, why do I have to give my earrings as well’. I was only seven but you see how vain I was, I wanted my earrings and the difference between the two sisters. She was over the moon and I was all grumpy.” She chuckled.

   “How did you feel about this whole thing, of moving lock, stock and barrel to an ashram?”

   “I just went with the flow. Najoo was delighted. Adi, of course, was too small. My Adi was like an angel. Mehera, Mani, Katy, Goher would say that, ‘he was a very special child’. I don’t know what they meant by it. Gokaran said, ‘Adi is not a human being, he is an angel come on Earth’. Both, Najoo and Adi have passed away. Najoo passed over a few months ago and Adi passed over many, many years back. Adi and his wife passed over in a car accident, left behind little Meherwan who was just ten years old. Adi was fifty-six when he passed over and his wife, Freny Sethna, was forty-eight years old. They both left the body while they were going to Meherabad. They had a major accident. Merwan was on Adi’s lap and during the collision Adi threw him out of the tempo which is what saved Meherwan’s life. It was Diwali time and they couldn’t organize a car. Normally, Adi drove to Nagar but Freny was scared of Adi’s driving, rightfully so, as Adi drove like a maniac. Freny said, ‘no Adi, you are not driving, let’s just take a taxi or a train or whatever’. They took a train, I think, to Poona and then they couldn’t get any taxis at that time because of Diwali and this tempo came along. Meherwan said, ‘no, you are not getting into this tempo, I don’t like it’. Adi said, ‘Meherwan, stop fussing, we have to get to Meherabad and you are going to get into it’. They got into it and then a truck collided with them and I think Adi saw the truck coming close and he threw Meherwan out of the window before the collision.”

   “Meherwan was ten years old?”

   “Yes, he was ten and he survived, though he was unconscious at that time.”

   “Who took care of Meherwan then?”

   “My mother and my sister Najoo. As I told you, Najoo passed away a short while ago, three months ago. She passed away two days after I came to India in November. I think she was waiting to see me before she passed away. And umm…” Hilla began to cry and looked outside the window. Life has a way of depressing you consistently. “Sorry. It was sad but I am glad that she isn’t suffering anymore. She always wanted to be with Baba and she is with Baba now. Like most people who love Baba selflessly, Najoo’s life too was very difficult, extremely difficult, right from the beginning. She again began to cry.

   “She never even had a carefree childhood as she had to take care of me, I was the younger one. She was more like a mother to me, than a sister. I was a very mischievous child and we were put into a boarding school by Baba. Superb, first class boarding school in Hyderabad. I would get up to all sorts of tricks. I would get caned by the nuns, because I was naughty all the time. I don’t know why I was like that…guess, I was born like that. So, Najoo had to take care of me always and later on, her life was very hard. Truly hard.”

   “What else do you remember about the meeting with Baba in Bangalore and your journey into the ashram life?”

   “I was sort of taken aback by Baba’s beauty when I saw Him in Bangalore. I was seeing Him after a long time and when I saw Him, I knew that He is not a human being. I always knew that He is God, as we all knew that He is God but by God, He was the most beautiful God you had ever seen.” Her voice was filled with happiness and admiration which I wish I could pen down in words. “I am an artist and I love everything beautiful. Whether it is a flower or nature, I love everything beautiful. I am a nature lover. Then, to see this beautiful God-Man in….ohhhh…I can’t explain His beauty to you. He was breathtaking. He is very beautiful even in snaps but none of His photographs do any justice to His true beauty, never, never, never, never, never, they can’t! They can’t! They cannot capture the magic that was in Baba. The magic in His eyes. His eyes flashed like stars and I hadn’t ever gazed into His eyes before but I did so in Bangalore. I had never gazed into His eyes and you couldn’t look into His eyes for a long time. You just couldn’t. He was stunningly, magically, breathtakingly beautiful. Can’t explain what He was like. The most handsome form of Baba, I remember, I saw of Him in Hyderabad.”

   “How old were you then?”

   “Umm. I was about twelve years old. I had small pox then. Baba told Vishnu master, ‘go and bring Hilla to Me because now the incubation period is over but I don’t want her to go back to school’. He was in Hyderabad in a very beautiful bungalow which had a lovely swimming pool. I was at the age when an Indian girl first wears her saree. Such wonderful memories of those times! I still remember, I was crying because I felt that I was ugly with small pox marks all over my face. Baba always put His fingers on His lips and would give me a kiss and gesture, ‘so beautiful’. I thought that now, how can I show my face to Baba as I am ugly now’. I went there and I was crying bitterly. Somebody went and told Baba, ‘Hilla is crying all the time’. Baba said, ‘why is Hilla crying, she is always so cheerful, bubbly and happy, so, I can’t understand why is she crying? Call her’. He pretended as if He didn’t know the reason for my tears.” Hilla chuckled.

   “I entered the room in which Baba was seated, I covered my face and I stood before Him. He took my hands and said, ‘what are you covering?’ I said, ‘Baba, look how ugly I am now. You will never now say that I am beautiful nor pinch my cheeks’. He gestured, ‘is that all you are worried about Hilla?’ I said, ‘yes Baba, you calling me beautiful means a lot to me. I am so ugly, look, look, at my marks, look at my face’. Baba called Rano and told Rano…’ Then she stopped and looked at her watch. ‘Its 12 o clock, if you don’t mind, I think of Baba every day at mid noon. Baba has said that at, ‘12 o clock you must remember Me’.” After a while we both said, ‘Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai’.

“So, Baba told Rano, ‘get some calamine lotion from your first aid kit’. Rano took out the calamine lotion and Baba told me, ‘apply that calamine lotion everyday’. Even though I was only twelve, I knew that calamine lotion was not the cure for small pox marks. You need skin grafting and a lengthy medical procedure. In gestures, He said, ‘everyday apply this’. I had faith in Baba, so, I began to apply the lotion on my body and face. Within a week the marks disappeared. Except for one small virtually invisible mark, all marks disappeared. I think, Baba left the mark to remind me of Him and also to remind me not to be vain. If you can see the mark is there at the corner of my eye.”

   “Yes, but it’s truly barely visible.”

   “Yes but visible to me, to remind me not to be vain.” She began to laugh aloud. “When I met Baba after a week, He smiled and kissing His clasped fingers He gestured and said, ‘you are beautiful’. I was happy. The real miracle that took place was after that incident, my vanity sort of disappeared. Before the small pox incident, I thought that I was the cat’s whiskers. My darling Baba took care of the small pox marks and my vanity in a week’s time.”

   “You all were in a boarding school and came during the holidays to meet Baba?”

   “Yes. Summer and winter holidays. Wherever Baba was, we would reach there. I remember, once, He was in Rishikesh and we had to travel all the way to Rishikesh. Pendu kaka, kaka Bariya or my father, one of them, were the men who were appointed to bring us back to Baba from school.”

   “When dad and mum started living in an ashram, they had to live separately, right?”

   “Oh of course, mum was on the hill with the ladies. Dad was with the men mandali.”

   “You mom sacrificed a lot.”

   “She sacrificed the whole world. For her, the whole world had fallen apart. Strangely, as she began to live in the ashram, she fell more and more in love with Baba, thus, she no longer ached for Savak that much. Please understand that my dad was my mother’s life line but being close to Baba sort of calmed that ache to a bearable limit. In Baba, she had found her mother. She always said that, ‘I have found my mother in Baba’ because as a child she missed her mother tremendously. Baba treated her like His daughter.”

   “As you started growing up and reached into your teens and early twenties, how was Meher Baba’s attitude towards you then?”

   “The same. He always treated me as if I was His child. I remember, once I told my dad, ‘look at Najoo, all the time she is focused on Baba, nothing but Baba in her mind, Baba, Baba, Baba, Baba all the time but strangely Baba still shows more love to me than He shows towards Najoo. Why is that dad, why is it, tell me? Why is it that I am not devoted as she is?’ My father gave me such a beautiful answer. He said, ‘you know Hilla, it is because Baba already knows Najoo is totally His. He doesn’t have to work on her. With you, He has to work on you, to make you love Him, to attract you towards Him’. Hilla began to laugh. “What a beautiful answer. What a beautiful answer. My dad too was a very wise prepared soul. This answer made me realise the reality and difference between Najoo’s love for Baba and my love for Him. Najoo was born His. Dad would say, ‘Najoo is born to be Baba’s whereas with you, He has to still work on attracting you towards Him with love! When you give more love to someone, they will give more love to you. He has to attract you’.

   “You know, Baba was a simple God-Man. Even His food habits were simple. He ate dal chawal. Dhan daar with green chutney was His favourite. Just see this, the simplest of food. I don’t think that He loved anything more than dhan daar and chutney. Most of the times, anyway He was always fasting. The mandali had to fast too. Mum had to do it. Mum had to do lots of things which was very difficult for her. You must understand that mom came from an aristocratic family. She was born with a golden spoon in her mouth. The ashram life was hard for everybody but it was harder for her. She had to roll out hundred and twenty chapatis, on a wooden log fire. I think Baidul’s wife would knead the dough, mum had to roll the chapatis and Mansari had to seko or bake the chapatis. Baba came up the hill with the mandali, every day. We children were allowed to go and watch Him coming up and the stone wall was very low at that time. We would climb and see Him arrive. He walked like as if He was flying and all the mandali running after Him. He appeared to be striding. My Najoo would say, ‘when I look at Baba, His feet are not on the ground Hilla’. It was like He was gliding. The mandali running behind Him and His white robe flowing. I can still see that beautiful sight before me.” I could actually imagine Hilla reliving those beautiful moments. “Baba had said that, ‘when I come, I don’t want anybody to come running to Me, unless I call you’. The ladies, because they were all longing to see Him, they would like to go and see Him at a distance and leave the work behind. Not my mother, she would just go on rolling the chapatis alone, because those were Baba’s orders. Baba had said, ‘I want you to do your work, not to come and see Me’. Though she never left her job to see Baba, you must understand her love, devotion and dedication towards Baba was fantastic. Baba was so compassionate, He would leave everybody and come in the kitchen and see my mother. He would say, ‘Nergis, am I working you too hard? Am I tiring you with all this hard work?’ Mom would say, ‘no Baba, I love it, I am enjoying it’. In reality, she was virtually being baked, by the raging fire nearby, like me, she couldn’t stand the heat. Imagine, a woman who had come from a home where there was exquisite furniture, all the elegant stuff and now rolling chapatis, in a hot kitchen, seated beside a raging fire. She had one bed, one tin mug, one tin plate in the ashram. We all had that. We all had one little stool to sit on; but she carried herself very beautifully, with a lot of dignity. One day, Baba called all the ladies and He said, ‘you all are not here by chance’, He told them. He then looked at mummy, ‘Nergis, you think you have come to me because of Savak, you are wrong. In one of your recent past lives, you stood in a river on one leg for twelve years. You were a yogi and you did tapas (penance) for Me, that is why you are here today’. Then, it struck all of us. My mother slept in the night with one leg slightly lifted from the bed.”

   “Really? With one leg up?”

   “Yes. How can anybody sleep like that? You tell me, can you sleep like that?”

   “No.” I barely got sleep with both my legs on the bed.

   “I have tried, I have tried so many times but it’s impossible. Her one leg was always slightly above the bed. Always raised up a bit. I promise you, this is how she slept. I used to say, ‘Najoo, see she has gone to sleep but her leg is raised up, how can this be? Is there anything kept there, I can’t understand this Najoo. Then it all made sense, when Baba said that in one life time she had stood on one leg for twelve years in a river doing tapas. She was a yogi, my mum. Thus, Baba said, ‘you didn’t come for Savak’s sake. You came because you were searching for Me. I have got you here because of your devotion and penance for Me’.

   “Baba had lot of compassion. Two or three years of ashram life, one day soon before Baba left for Meherazad, Baba called Mummy to meet Him. He knew that she was dying to see my father and spend time with him. So, Baba had a surprise for mom. There were family quarters and there was this lovely little cottage there. He told mom, ‘Nergis, see I am moving to Meherazad, you with your children can begin living in this bungalow’. Baba then told dad that occasionally He would send him to be with his family. Not very often but at least mom would get to spend more time with dad. There was a long period when Baba was totally cut off from everybody. Either my father had to go and find Masts or he was the night watchman for Baba. These two were his duties. Plus, when Baba had gone away for the New Life, He had told Sarosh that dad would manage his work’. Sarosh had a cinema, very nearby where we lived. Baba hadn’t taken dad along because Baba felt that dad was too weak. ‘You are not strong enough to come and bear this life with Me’. My dad hated it but he had no option but to become a cashier at Sarosh Motor Works. What he hated to do two decades ago, destiny sent him back into the same profession. He ran away from the bank to become a cashier at Sarosh Motor Works.” She began to chuckle wondering how destiny and Masters work.

   “You got to see dad more often?”

   “He came every day but everything was very temporary. Once Baba returned, all the routine and schedules changed again.”

   “Didn’t you miss your dad?”

   “Not particularly. We had Baba who was our dad. When we dedicated everything to Baba, that day itself Baba told dad, ‘from this day on, you are not their dad, I am their father’. My sister always called Baba as big daddy; that is her Name for Meher Baba. Big daddy. Even when she wrote a letter to Him, it started with, ‘my beloved Big Daddy’. She had long correspondences with Baba and the mandali. I would do it, but occasionally. I was, as I told you, not as devoted as my Najoo. I loved them all. They all loved me, I was full of love. I was brought up with so much of love, all the aunties on the hill were extended family, all the uncles, they truly loved me and I loved them.”

To be continued….

Be blessed always.

Jai Baba

Ruzbeh N. Bharucha

I would like to believe that every word that has poured forth, has come through the unbound grace, love, mercy and compassion of Avatar Meher Baba. I would also like to thank my sister Jennifer Bharucha, Jimmy Khan, Mehernath B. Kalchuri, Roshani Shenazz and Jennifer Keating, who have been instruments chosen by Baba, with whose help these interviews have been made possible. I would also like to thank Jimmy Khan and Cyrus Khambata for their invaluable editorial inputs. Be blessed always. Jai Baba.

Ruzbeh N. Bharucha​​​

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