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

Part two

Ruzbeh N. Bharucha

17

   “Did Baba ever get angry at you?”

   “I can’t remember Him being angry at me but
yes, once, He was a little cross because I had put on weight. He said in
gestures, ‘hmmmm, jari thayi gayich,
exercise kar
(you have become fat, do exercises). I go to the gym every-day, even today at the age of
eighty-seven. That is why, even now, I keep moving about and am very active. I
don’t want Baba to be cross with me ever. Baba never wanted me to get fat. That
was the only time which I remember when He got very cross with me.”

   “How was
Mehera Maa?”

   “My God.
She was…. She was….She was breathtakingly beautiful. She was not of this world.
When you saw Her you knew that She was not a human being. She was such a
darling. You know, for Her, everything was Baba. I remember, we would gather
around and She would tell us stories. She told beautiful stories of all the
saints and all their lives and then, when Baba was away on tour and She would
be lonely, She would call us, Najoo and me. We would stand by the door looking
at Her, because for me, She was the most beautiful woman in the world. I would
look at Her and She would gesture and say, ‘
aao, aao mori aagal’, means ‘come, come close to Me’. She had made a
little
jhoola, a swing and kept Baba’s photo on it as though
Baba was sitting on the
jhoola and She would
say ‘
chal,
aapray jhoolo jhulav-yay Baba nay’
, means, ‘come,
let us swing Baba on the
jhoola’. Such beauty,
simplicity and such love for Baba, Her God. It was just…I can’t begin to
describe Her. You can’t imagine, it was so beautiful to see Her love and we
were a part of it. We would then tenderly push the swing. As children, we loved
it. Little pleasures but we loved it. I was the happiest child in the
ashram. Believe me, we didn’t have toys, we didn’t have
anything but we had Baba, Mehera and Mani. These three, Meher Baba, Mehera and
Mani, the three of them were so beautiful.”

   “How would
you spend your time in the
ashram?”

   “As I grew
up and became a grown woman, I would love to read books. I would love to read
but books too were not available till the time I went to live in the Mandali Hall.
That was the phase when Baba was in the New Life. We were told to leave the
cottage and come and live in the Mandali hall; it was our home. The two
Masts were present there, Babji and Tukiya. Tukiya’s
room was a library and that’s where I would practically read one book a day. I
nearly finished an entire book every day. I spent most of the time in Tukiya’s
room, reading books before I got married. I had come there to stay with mum.
Tukiya, they called Him as Mohammed later but at that time we called Him as
Tukiya.”

   “I have
met Mohammed once.”

   “He was
quite a character, wasn’t He? Did you see His eyes ever, they were like burning
coal. Beautiful, beautiful, Tukiya.
I
would spend a lot of time with Him.
Those days, I was waiting to go to Bombay to get
married. Thus, that entire year, I spent with my mom. I adored my mother and
next to Baba, my mother was most important to me. That year was very special to
me. Even when I left for England after my marriage and mom came to meet me in
England, she had initially only a six months visa but I got her visa extended
by another six months and she stayed for a year with me. Thus, in reality, I
just had those two years that I truly spent with her at length. It’s always the
case, the ones you love the most, He keeps you away from them because that
Maya mustn’t be there. He has come to break our Maya, isn’t it? Baba wants us only to love Him. He is a
very jealous God. My mother would always say, ‘Baba is a very jealous God.
Meher Baba is a very possessive God’. My father said the same thing, ‘
evan Ghana (He is a very) jealous God’.” She began to laugh
aloud.
He just wanted
us to be totally His and not think about anybody else or anything else. He
wanted our entire focus only on Him. We have to only love Him. We mustn’t think
about others. Concentrate only on Baba. Just keep your eyes on Him and not on
anybody else because Baba is the only important person in the whole Universe.

   “I
remember, that year, which I spent with my mother and the two
Masts is very dear to me. Najoo and I would have our
breakfast and the kitchen was shared by Padri
kaka and us. Donkin was there too at that time. He had
come here as he was staying in what was previously Jal’s office. Donkin was a
lovely man but
jara bheja no kataryo (a little hot in the head) as we say. Padri was
another
kataryo but he was
a gorgeous man. I loved Pardi
kaka.
My mother had to look after Donkin’s meals, as Baba had told her to do so.
Donkin was so particular and militant that if he said, ‘I want a cup of tea at
12.30’ and if the cup of tea reached him at 12.35, he would throw the cup away.
I remember, once, Najoo and I took the cup of tea to him because the staff was
not available and Donkin looked at his watch, took the cup and threw it.

   “This is an ashram, this is not your England or your office
where it is five minutes late and you go completely nuts. He just threw the cup
and we ran because we got scared. He would come and have dinner with us. So,
that day, he came and had dinner with us and he hugged us and said, ‘I am
sorry, I behaved badly; but I get those fits sometimes’.” She began to laugh.
“They all were such unique personalities, all loving, all so kind, but very
unique. Padri was very sweet, truly a very sweet man. I went every day to
Tukiya’s room because I wanted to read and I saw all those books and I am mad
about books. Seeing those books, I felt as though I was in heaven. Tukiya,
though a very sweet man, was a very difficult
Mast. If He didn’t like you, and mostly He didn’t like anybody,
He would shout at them, ‘
kashala ikday khadi hai? Ja.’ Means, ‘why are you standing here? Go.’

   “With me, as soon as I would come to His
room He would say, ‘Lillu
bai, ya’,
which means ‘Lillu
bai,
come’. Then, He had a little stool, so with his
kafni which He wore, He would take the kafni and wipe the stool. ‘Basa, Lillu bai, basa’, means ‘sit, Lillu bai, sit’. He adored me.”

   “He called you Lillu bai?”

   “Yes, Lillu bai. They would call me Hillu, so for Him it became Lillu bai. Then I would say, ‘me ek chopdi ghet, ata me padhel’,
means ‘I’ll take one book and now I will read’. He would say, ‘ho,
hitech basoon’, means, ‘yes, sit here only’. I would
remove whichever book I wanted to and start reading. I would sit down on the
stool next to Him and read the book. Every now and then I would look at Him and
he would be bending down, touching the floor. I would ask him, ‘
kay kartay Tumhi?’ which means ‘what are you doing?’.‘Deesh pahto, deesh pahto’ means ‘Seeing deesh. Seeing deesh’.

   “Then, for a while, He would go to the
ground, not on this side of the railway tracks; but on the other side of the
tracks and again gather some
patthar
(stone) or He would keep digging, digging and digging. I don’t know what it was
all about but then, after a while, He’d come back in, and say ‘
basa basa,tumhi basa me deesh pahto’,
means ‘Sit, sit, you sit, I am seeing deesh’. He’d go out and come back in
again and every now and then He would look at me, with those eyes, as if they
are going right through you. Oh my goodness, those eyes and I was a little
scared of His eyes. He was very harmless and very gentle with me. Very sweet.
One day, He told Tani, the helper, ‘
Tani, ata Maja lagna hoyil Lillu bai-cha sang’,
means ‘Tani, now My marriage will happen with Lillu
bai’.

   “Hao, ani tilla ek mulga hoyil, tu tyacha boratya dhoyal, ti kapusa sarkhi
hai, tyachasi nayi hoyil hey boratya dhonar, tu karel kay
?’,
means, ‘one boy will be born to her, will you wash his nappies, she is like
cotton, she won’t be able to wash the nappies, so will you do it?’

   “Tani told Him, ‘Ho ho, jaroor karel, Tu fikar nako kar, Tu lagna kar, porga yeyil’,
means ‘yes, yes will do it for sure, you don’t worry, you get married, let the
boy come’.

     I would say, ‘Tukiya, maja lagna kevha hoyil?’
means, ‘Tukiya, when will my marriage take place?’ This is because my husband’s
family kept me waiting, as they were Punjabis and for some reason, they thought
Parsees were Muslims. They thought that I was a Muslim. Though my to-be husband
explained the real situation to them that, in reality, Zoroastrians had to
leave Persia because they were in fact persecuted by the Muslims thus, she is
not a Muslim. For some reason, they had something against Muslims. My mother-in-law
in the end gave her permission and they fixed the marriage for June. I told
Tukiya, ‘
Tukiya maja lagna hoyil ka nai hoyil?’ means,
Tukiya will my marriage take place or not? He said, ‘
hoyil Lillu bai, hoyil hoyil, paus cha mahina madhey hoyil’ means,
it will happen Lillu bai, it will take place, it will happen in the monsoon
month. He predicted that I would get married in the monsoons and soon, my
marriage was fixed to be held in June. The day I got married, I got all dressed
to get into the car and as soon as I entered the car, thunder sounded, terrific
thunder sounded and it began to pour.”

   “Where did you get married.”

   “In Bombay, CCI Club.”

   “The mandali people must all have attended your
marriage?”

   “Mandali no, only Vishnu attended the marriage
representing Meher Baba and the
mandali.
They couldn’t come because they were living very cloistered lives. They
wouldn’t go for anybody’s wedding or any function. Mum, dad, sister, brother,
my uncle and Arnavaz’s entire family were present. Arnavaz, Nergis, and Roda,
all of them were present. Baba sent His representative Vishnu
master. He enjoyed the wedding.

   “Anyway, Tukiya had mentioned the rains and
there were torrential rains. I forgot to tell you, when I would sit in Tukiya’s
room all day, on His stool, with Him seated next to me, my father was most
happy. Tukiya was
brought to Baba at Rahuri Ashram. He
was between the third and the fourth spiritual plane at
that time and such an evolved soul spending time with his daughter, made my
father truly happy. Baba, of course, raised Tukiya to reach the fifth spiritual
plane or whichever spiritual plane, I am not sure. Thus, to be in the constant
company of such an evolved soul, from morning till evening, according to my
father, ‘was the best thing for Hilla’. I guess my dad was very well aware that
I was not a very holy, goody, goody, person. My dad adored Tukiya. He was so
sweet. When I left for Bombay, I said good-bye to everybody and my train came
through Meherabad to go to Bombay. What do you know, Tukiya, who had never ever
come on that side of the track, He was there with His handkerchief, can you
imagine, He loved me so much. He stood there waiving His hanky at me. I was so
touched to see Him. He never ever came on that side of the track but He did so
for His love for me. He loved me so much that He had to say good-bye to His
little friend, Lillu
bai. Etlo
mitho hoto
, He was so sweet.”

   “You must have met Him many times
afterwards?”

   “Many, many, times. Whenever I came to
Meherabad, I would love spending time with Him. Najoo too loved Him a lot. She
was very fond of Tukiya. I must tell you this very wonderful story. There was
another
Mast at that time, called Bapji. He was in the Rahuri
cabin. Tukiya, was on our side, next to our home. The Rauri cabin is over there
and Tukiya is here. Tukiya never liked us to go and meet Bapji. He was a very
jealous fellow my darling, Tukiya. He would never want us to go and see Bapji.
One day, while we were passing by, we saw Bapji.

   “Bapji was like a king. He would sit like a
king. I would love looking at Him and He was a gorgeous man. I would only watch
Him. He never talked. One day, He motioned for me to come to Him. I went and He
motioned Najoo to follow. We went to Him and Tukiya saw us and I thought to myself,
God help us later. Bapji showed us His leg, oh God, He had a very deep ulcer,
bleeding, and puss, very badly infected. Najoo quickly ran and got the first
aid kit and we both cleaned His wound and wrapped the bandage. We treated His
leg for three days and on the third day I said, ‘I am going to go and call Dr. Donkin
because this looks very serious’. Both of us sisters were nurses. Baba had
wanted us to do nursing, so we recognized the wound to be very serious. We went
running to Donkin and I said, ‘Donkin, please can you come, Babji’s foot is
festering so much, you might have to amputate it, it is so bad’. He said,
‘okay, I will come’. So, he got his box and we went back to Babji. Donkin told
me, ‘Hillu remove his bandage’. Najoo and I both started removing the bandage
and you know what, there was nothing on His leg. It was perfectly normal. Najoo
and I kept looking at each other, frightened that now Donkin will bang that box
on our heads. I said, ‘so sorry Donkin, but I promise you Don, I promise you,
that His leg was in such a terrible condition. Every day we have been dressing
Him, for three days now and today we thought that the wound had gotten far
worse, so we called you’. Donkin said nothing. He was aware of the powers of
Masts. He had written The Wayfarers and thus, he knew them better than most.
He said, ‘it is okay, you don’t worry, it is okay. I understand’. Bapji wanted
us to do His
seva.
Both of us sisters. He was happy with the
seva. By doing that He had washed away our bad sanskaras.”

   “So true and beautiful.”

   “I will never forget, when we saw His leg
completely normal, both Najoo and I looked at each other as if we had gone mad.
What had we been dressing every day for the past three days?” Hilla began to
laugh. “Meher Baba loved Them a lot. He would bathe Them and serve Them. Tukiya
was a darling and Babji was elegant, absolutely like an Emperor, He looked like
Shah Jahaan or
some king.” (He was also called by the name Ali Shah.)

 “How old were you when Baba took Samadhi?”

   “Around thirty-seven years old.”

         “Were you present in Meherabad when Baba
took Samadhi?”

         “No. Neither my mum or I were present to pay
respects to Baba’s body?”

         “How come?”

   “When Baba took Samadhi, my mother was with
me, in England, during that time. As I told you, she lived with me for a year.
As soon as we got the news, she said, ‘oh my God, oh my God, Baba, mori mai mari gayi (Baba, my mother, has
passed over)’. Najoo, Adi, my father, who were in India, they all went but not
the two of us.”

   “How come you both didn’t go to Meherabad?”

   “I didn’t have the money. We were not rich
enough to fly to India in those days. Now, I travel in Business Class but then
I didn’t have the money,” she spoke softly. “I had recently got married to a
doctor and I qualified as a beautician over there and I worked for a while.
Baba had blessed my marriage. My dad told Baba, ‘she is marrying this Punjabi
boy who is a doctor’. Baba said, ‘his religion or race does not matter. Caste
and creed are not of importance. Everybody is the same for Me’. Then, my mother
told Baba that, ‘he doesn’t believe in You’. Baba said, ‘don’t worry, even if
he doesn’t believe in Me, he is a diamond’. He approved of the marriage. He
wrote such a beautiful letter to my husband. You can read Najoo’s book, it’s
such a beautiful book. Such a beautiful letter Baba had dictated and sent to my
husband before I got married to him. In the letter, Baba said that, Hilla is a
flower from my garden and treat her that way, otherwise she will wither away.
Baba wrote a letter like a mother would write to her son-in-law. My husband,
who was from Delhi, met Baba when Baba had gone to Delhi. He got His darshan. Then, he met Baba twice at
Arnavaz’s place.

   “I remember, when we got the news that Baba
had dropped His body we were crying our hearts out. My little Deepak, had seen
Baba only once, when he was nine years old. I had taken him to India to meet
Baba. So, he came and saw my mother and his mother weeping loudly and crying
our hearts out. He said, ‘what are you two crying like this for, God doesn’t
die, God never dies’. You know, both of us were stunned.

   “I know that He is God and all that but I
wept not being able to see Him and be hugged by Him. Even today, I know that He
is God but I still miss Him, I miss His personality, I miss His physical
presence, I miss His embraces, I miss His love, I miss His kisses. I miss that.
I miss that more and more with each passing day.” Her yearning for Baba was so
palpable. “He would correspond with us regularly and guide us in every aspect
of our lives and I miss each and everything. When you have lived with Him,
since you were tiny, He is ingrained in my every cell. He was and is everything
to us. He was our dad, He was our mum, He is our everything. I miss that
physical presence to this very day.” Hilla said these words crying and tears
rolling down her cheeks. “I know that I shouldn’t cry but what do I do, I have
no control over these tears.”

   “Does He ever visit you in your dreams?”

   “Yes, He is very sweet because He always
appears in my dreams very often, very often.” She broke down again.”

Fortunately,
the phone began to ring and by the time Hilla returned from answering the call,
she was more composed.

   “He comes in my dreams and He often hugs me
in my dreams. Once, I dreamt that there is this huge crowd and Baba is in His
flowing robes, in His Sadra. I just
rush through the crowd, pushing everybody aside. The Sadra, where it meets at the chest, I kissed Him there. I always say,
that is my spot. I kissed Him and He looked at me so lovingly. He has kissed me
in my dreams, often. I don’t know what I do to deserve all this. Najoo deserves
it and deserved it; but not me. Whenever I am distressed, or
whenever I am low, He appears. Always trying to tell me, ‘I am there, don’t
worry’. Just the other day, I told Him, ‘Baba, You haven’t come in my dreams,
what is it? Are You angry with me? Have I done something wrong? In fact, I have
been very good now that I have grown old.” We both began to laugh. Of course,
Hilla’s laughter was way louder. “You won’t believe it, but in a few nights, in
my dream I saw Him in the clouds, He appeared. This has occurred many times.
You may believe it or you may not believe it, that when I am craving for Him or
sometimes, I am crying out to Him and I am missing Him, and I look up in the
sky, I see Him. He is there up in the clouds…” She again began to cry bitterly
and there was love, remembrance, yearning, all these emotions came forth
through her tears and her cries. “Once, I was depressed and suddenly saw seven
faces of Baba in the clouds. Different faces and all I could say was, ‘thank
You Baba, now, I feel better’. Sometimes, the longing is so intense that one
can get suffocated with yearning. I do love Him. I know that may be not with
the same devotion as my sister but in another way. My devotion is different but
it’s there. I lovvvvvvvve Him. I adddddddore Him. This intensity of love will
never leave me. It is in me.

   “That’s why, the other day when I gave a
talk at the center, everyone hugged me. I thought I had no bones left after
those many hugs. They all hugged me tight and they said to me that, ‘Baba has
hugged you so many times, let us also give you a hug’. Whenever I give a talk,
they always say, ‘when you give a talk, we can feel that He is there’. He is
there, He is always with us.”

   “You told me that your son met Meher Baba
when he was nine, so should I assume that was your last meeting with Meher
Baba?”

   “It’s a very long story, am sure you haven’t
got the time now to hear it.”

   “I have all the time in the world.”

   “That is lovely. Most people are so busy now-a-days.
Anyway, before I tell you about the last meeting which I had with Meher Baba,
let me digress a little and tell you another story first. When we lived in
Hyderabad, I had a throbbing tummy ache. I assume that it was because I had
begun my menstrual cycle. It was a bad time for me, I remember. Baba called me
and asked, ‘
su chey’
(what is it?)’ I said ‘Baba, there is a lot of pain in my stomach’ in Gujarati.
He said, ‘
aao, aao’,
meaning ‘come, come’. He took me inside, filled a cup of water, took some
powder or something, put it inside and with His finger He stirred the contents
and then He gestured to say, ‘drink it’. I drank every drop of it and then I
took the cup to wash and He said, ‘no, give it to Me’. I said,‘Baba, I will
wash the cup’, through gestures He said ‘
nai, I will wash the cup’. Then, He washed it and I was in
tears because I couldn’t bear to see Him wash my cup. Who the hell am I, that
God Himself, washed the cup? He did the same for my sister. When Najoo had pain
somewhere, He did the same, whatever He put into the water, He stirred the
water with His finger and Najoo drank each drop and He washed Najoo’s cup too.
Najoo said, ‘I felt so bad’. We both got cured after drinking whatever Baba
gave us. Baba was just like a dad. He was really a father, though He treated us
more as if He was our mum. He was everything. He was God, Mother, Father,
everything rolled into one.

   “Anyway, what happened was, I had not seen
Baba for nine years. I had moved to UK when Deepak, my son, was two years old.
I delivered him here in India and I had a very bad, painful, delivery. I had
come to drop Baba off at the railway station. He, so lovingly, hugged me and through
gestures said, ‘oh, you are pregnant’ and I said, ‘yes Baba’. Then, He said, ‘
ghabrati na’, means don’t get scared. I guess, He knew that
I was going to have a bad time during the delivery. He only focused on me. Even
when He got on the train, He was holding onto the pole with one hand and
looking at me and saying, in gestures, ‘
Mori nazar chey tori uppar, ghabrati na’,
means ‘My nazar is there on you, don’t get scared’. Till the train moved out of
sight, He kept looking at me and gesturing to me, not to worry or get scared. Tell
me, who am I? I am nobody but look at His love. Hundreds of people were there
to wish Him farewell. May be, He gave them the same experience, I don’t know.
For me, I felt as though He was only looking at me and guiding me. As I have
told you, I had a very difficult delivery. I kept calling out to Him and this
much I can tell you with assurance, if you call out to Him with all your love,
He always helps. He never lets anybody down. He has never let me down, ever.

   “When Deepak turned nine years, I thought to
myself that I haven’t met Baba for years and Deepak has never met Baba at all,
except for when he was in my tummy. My concern was also that Mehera won’t be
able to touch him, caress him, kiss him, if he turned ten years old. Mehera was
allowed to touch a boy until he turned ten years of age. After that She was not
allowed to even see a boy, forget touch him. Mehera meant the world to me
because Mehera and Mani were the epitome of kindness, tenderness and dignity.
They were absolutely great. They were the greatest people alive, as far as I
was concerned, next to Baba. I truly wanted them to see Deepak. Meheru, another
beautiful soul, was my best friend actually in the
ashram. Baba had told her to teach me swimming.
Thus, in Hyderabad, in that lovely pool, she taught me swimming. I said to my
father that, every time I write to you, wanting to come to India to meet Baba,
Mehera, Mani and the
mandali,
you say Baba is in seclusion. Now, Deepak is nine years old, I want him to come
and see Mehera and spend time with Mehera too. I am coming. Dad wrote a letter
to me saying that, ‘Baba is in seclusion, He won’t see you’. I said, ‘dad,
whether He sees me or not, I am going to Meherazad and if He then says that I
am not seeing you, I will come back with Deepak. I am coming. Seclusion or no
seclusion’. I am a little wild that way.” She began to chuckle.

   “I said, ‘I have to see Him, I have to see
Him. Deepak has to see Him’. My mother sent a note to Mehera and Mani, we were
always corresponding, saying that Hilla wants to come. Then, Dr. Goher told my
mother, ‘tell hilla to bring a hair dryer for Baba’. I thought that if she is
saying to bring a hair dryer for Baba, may be, Baba might see me but I was
clear that I would at least try my best to get a darshan of Baba. I thought,
‘never mind, even if He does not see me, I have got a hair dryer for Him, which
is so wonderful, that I can be of some service to my Baba’. This is because He caught
a cold always. I sent a telegram to my father for Baba, that, Baba, I am coming
on such and such a date, time, and this platform. ‘I am hoping in my heart that
You will allow me to see You and I want my Deepak to see You’. Deepak, Adi who
is my brother and I had decided to go to Meherazad. Adi was going through a
very bad patch and he was dying to see Baba. Adi had been told by Baba, that,
‘you can see Me anytime, even if I am in seclusion’.

   “Adi was allowed to visit Baba anytime. None
of us were given this absolute privilege but Adi. He was a special child, my
Adi. We took the overnight train and I was shaking like a leaf all the way.
Will He see us or not? My brother went nuts trying to calm me as I was crying
and holding on to him, and saying, ‘Adi, if He doesn’t meet me, I will be so
miserable, Baba please see me, all the time’. I think I hardly slept that
night. Next morning, when the train arrived and we stopped at the station and
the doors opened, a man came up and said are you ‘Hillu
bai’, I said ‘yes, I am Hillu bai’. ‘Oh good, good, Baba has sent His car for you’.

   “I
just broke down in tears. For ‘who am I, a nobody’; yet, Baba had sent His car
for me. He had said, ‘from this day onwards, I am your Father and I will look
after your tiniest needs,
aaj ti, tay anth sudi,
means ‘from today till the end’. These were His words to us, His children, and
I was banking upon these words of His. The three of us with this man sat in
Baba’s car and I felt so privileged that He had sent a car for me. We drove to
Meherazad. The
mandali
were present and they had seen me after so many years. Everybody kept hugging
me and kissing me. I was always, as I have told you, loved by everyone. I don’t
think that there was anybody who didn’t like me. Then, we all sat in the Mandali
Hall with Pendu
kaka,
my favourite, I so adored him and Padri
kaka, who I was very close to, and Vishnu, oh, all my loved ones
surrounded me. Pendu
kaka
said, ‘Baba is going to see you all here. Keep our fingers crossed’. I was
sitting down with the
mandali,
all were on the floor, Deepak and all of us, chatting away and then Dr. Goher
came and said ‘
tu laveech kay Hilla?’
(have you got it Hilla?). I said, ‘yes, yes, sure’. I gave her the hair dryer.
She said, ‘He is going to see you’. So sweet. My God, I had palpitations in the
expectation of seeing Him again. That beautiful God, oh my goodness and He
arrived and I saw Him and my heart broke. I was not expecting what I saw,
because when I last saw Him, nine years ago, He was powerful, radiant and
beautiful. With that flowing hair, He was vibrant, so gorgeous, so beautiful,
so unworldly and yet He was so devastatingly beautiful. Now, I saw Him being
carried by four men on that
palki.
He was fragile, weak and I began to cry, because I couldn’t bear to see His
condition. My heart broke that moment. I didn’t expect that His condition would
be so bad. He had become so-so-so fragile, that I was afraid that His bones might
break if we hugged Him tight. I just kept weeping and couldn’t control my
tears. The seat on which He was carried was placed down and He called Deepak
and said, ‘you, come and sit down on My stool’, there was a little stool by His
feet. Deepak came and sat down on His stool. He started patting Deepak’s head,
hugged him and kissed him. I said, ‘Deepak, gently’, because my son was a very
big strapping guy. Even at nine years, he was more like a teenager, a big boy
for his age. I was afraid that he might crush Baba. Then, Baba looked at me and
said, ‘why are you sitting on the floor?’ I said, ‘I am just sitting with
everybody Baba’. ‘No, get her a stool’. I felt conspicuous sitting on the
stool. First of all, they were all the male
mandali, with just me, the only female present,
seated on a stool, while all sat on the floor. I sat there and I kept crying. I
couldn’t stop crying. He said, ‘you see Me after nine years and all you do is
cry, Hillu? Talk to Me, tell Me about your life, tell Me everything’. I was so
choked with emotion, first and foremost all that love flowing through me for
Him and His love flowing through Him to me. I thought words are of no use, as I
knew that He knows everything about me. I knew that He knew all about me. He
said, ‘no, tell Me, tell Me are you happy?’ I said Baba, ‘I am happy with my
husband but I am not happy with my in-laws’. My in-laws had followed me to
London and they were staying with me for a few years and they were giving me a
hard time. I said, ‘I am having a very hard time with them. Adjusting to their
Punjabi culture and their people was not easy for me. We, Zoroastrians are so different’. Baba said, ‘don’t
worry,
badhu oodhu thasay,
all will be well’, means ‘everything will turn upside down or become completely
different’. (He was so right as once I returned to England my in-laws left for
India almost immediately.) I said, ‘Baba, I have had a rough time over there.
First, my health doesn’t remain good there’ something that Baba was aware of
years ago, that England will not suit my health. You see, when my father told
Baba that, ‘Hilla is going to England’, Baba had grimaced, to say that,
‘England
. He knew that I was going to break down
where my health was concerned. Otherwise, I was quite a solid, strappy, healthy
girl. When I went to England, I started getting severe bronchitis and then I
had permanent asthma, which has lasted me to this date.

   “Thus, Baba had grimaced hearing that I was
going to live in England. He kept hearing me all the time, playing with Deepak
and it was so lovely to see Baba play with my son. Peace and calmness entered
my heart just knowing that Baba was with Deepak. Then, He said that, ‘Mehera
and all are waiting for you, both of you go there, I will come and see you
there. I will talk to Adi now’. Whenever we had problems, we would either write
to Him or if possible meet Him but always communicate every little thing going
on in our lives. It was such a personal bond. That’s why we miss Him all the
more because our relationship was very, very personal. This is why we cry,
that’s why we feel so heartbroken sometimes.” Hilla began to cry again. “I know
that He is around us, I know He is there but that personal touch and that
physical touch I miss, because I used to absolutely love hugging Him, kissing
Him and He would do the same and pinch my cheeks. That loving embrace, it was
like no other embrace you ever have had in this world. It wasn’t a worldly
embrace, it was like drowning yourself into love.” Then, Hilla began to cry
bitterly, her longing for Baba and His presence and embrace is so very
apparent. “Am so sorry, sometimes, I get emotional and today I seem to be
missing those days so much more. His embrace was so beautiful, soft, sweet,
gentle and cozy you felt that you were home when you were in His arms.” For a
while, she wept and I sat, with my eyes down, as this was such a personal
moment for her with Baba. She then cleared her throat and blew her nose.

   “Anyway, then we went to Mehera and Mani. We
met after nine years and I felt as though I was home with them and the women
mandali. I was always loved by everybody in the mandali and was a spoilt brat. Everybody, they
were so happy to see me and Deepak. Mehera said, ‘I can’t believe, our little
Hillu has given birth to this big strappy boy, how did she ever manage, this
small girl of ours’. I was so happy when Mehera hugged Deepak. It was most
important to me that he had Mehera’s touch. She was so beautiful, She was
unearthly. She was not like a human being. She was out of this world, totally.
Very, very, caring, loving, soft, beautiful, the most beautiful woman in the
world, I would say. She would always tell me, ‘
tu toh mori nalli Hillu, nalli Hillu’,
(you are my small tiny Hillu). She always said that to me. All of them, they
were so happy to see me and asked me about my life and we had a nice long chat
together and then Baba clapped from His bedroom that He had arrived and He
wanted to see us. We went to the bedroom and again He hugged Deepak. There was
a dog there and Deepak loves dogs. He began to wrestle with the dog and Baba
enjoyed watching that and He kept embracing Deepak. I kept telling Deepak,
‘embrace Baba slowly, you might break His bones’. Later, Deepak said that,
‘when I embraced Baba, I didn’t feel that I was breaking His bones. It felt
more like He would break my bones’.” We both began to laugh.

   “He told me this several times that, ‘so
strange, that, Baba didn’t feel as though He was fragile at all’. Baba gave him
so many hugs and such a lot of love. He told the
mandali also, ‘moro junno manas chey’, (he is an old man of Mine). Means Deepak
was, in another lifetime, one of Baba’s old friend or devotee. Deepak is a Baba
lover but he doesn’t love Baba the way we love Him. He has not been exposed to
Baba personally. He knows that Baba is God. He always takes me to the center
whenever I want to go; but occasionally he might stay, otherwise he goes and
does his own thing. I never force him but I have a lovely pair of Baba’s
chappals which He does bow down to. Vishnu master had given me Baba’s chappals which are my most precious possession. I
always say, if the house catches fire, no issue, just take Baba’s
chappals and run out, nothing else. I am not
interested in anything else here. These
chappals are so precious to me.

   “Baba then said, ‘let us go and have our
meal and Deepak will take Me to the table’. He was so fragile and I didn’t know
how Deepak was going to hold Him but Deepak later kept insisting that, ‘no, He
was not as fragile as you say He was’. I got up to take Baba and Baba said,
‘no, nobody else touch Me, just let him take Me’. Then, He sat on the dining
table. Deepak and me sat on His left, and Mehera, Mani sat on His right. Along
with Meheru, Goher, Katy and all of them. Mehera, of course, pilled my plate
up. In the
ashram, there was a rule that you have to eat
every morsel in your plate, not even a grain of rice should be left behind.
Mehera had piled my plate up and I was not hungry at all as I was filled up
with Baba’s love, seeing Mehera and Mani and all these dear
mandali men and women. I had no appetite. Then, I
thought, ‘oh my God, Baba, how am I going to go through this food which Mehera
so lovingly has piled on my plate?’ I was struggling and then Baba told me
through gestures, ‘Hillu, if you can’t eat, then let it be, we have got dogs,
they will have your food, you don’t worry about it’. First time ever, have I
ever heard Baba say something like this. As a child, when we ate dinner with
Baba, from His plate, He would take food and put the food in our mouth or take
the food from His plate and put it on our plate. His
Prasad, am sure you understand.”

  “Yes.”

   “He did the same with Deepak. I thought, ‘oh
my God, history is repeating itself, He’s doing the same for my child’. Deepak
lapped all the food up, leaving not a grain.”

   “Does he yet remember that day?”

   “He remembers that day very well. He even had
a second helping. He was a greedy fellow, right from those days,” she chuckled
fondly. “Mind you, when I was young, I was greedy too. I was nice and healthy,
now I have become thin but in those days I wasn’t.”

   “You must be missing all of them?”

   “A lot. This is a wasted life. I had such a
rich life in the
ashram. I
miss them all. I had such a beautiful childhood. I wish for such a childhood
for everybody. It is very rare that you have a beautiful childhood with God.
They were all high souls, all spiritually high souls. Baba is God but oh my
God, Mehera, Mani, the
mandali,
Tukiya, Bapji, oh such divine souls. Such divine souls.

   “How did I reach them, I don’t know, I must
have really done many good deeds in my past lives to have had such a beautiful
life with Baba and them. After dinner, I told Baba, ‘please, if I ask you to
grant me one thing, please bless me that You make me hard within because I am
so soft’. I told Him, ‘everybody walks all over me, you know that’. Meheru who
taught me swimming, was very angry. She told me, ‘stupid
jevu, Baba aagal ayi kai mang vanu hoy,meaning, ‘how stupid to ask something like this from Baba’.
Baba said, ‘don’t you realize that there are only a few soft people in this
world. Everyone is mostly hard, very few are soft like you. Be grateful that
you are blessed with such softness’. I told Him, ‘Baba
ketli harmar thauch, ketli harmar thauch’.
Meaning, I suffer a lot Baba, I suffer a lot. Baba said, ‘don’t worry, don’t
ever change, stay the way you are’. Then, He told all of them that, ‘she has a
lot of love for Me. She is as beautiful from the inside pointing at His Heart,
as she is from the outside. God paid me this compliment. I started to cry again
as a flood of tears gushed out. This was, I think, one of the last talks which I
had with Baba.” She began to cry. After a while, she composed herself. “I said,
‘yes Baba, I love You, I love You very very much. I miss You, I miss You so
much in England’. He just hugged me and looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘I
am always with you’. As I have told you, even now, He doesn’t let me down, He
comes in my dreams. Or if I look in the sky, I see His face there. He just
wants to tell me, ‘I am always with you. I am not far away. I am not far away,
I am there, I am there with you. In you, with you. So just keep holding on and
love Me more and more’. Then, He gave us His photographs, He touched His
photographs and gave it in my hand and in Deepak’s hand. Then, He told me,
‘tell Deepak to eat less chocolates’. I said, he doesn’t want to study
properly. Baba said, ‘
nai nai nai nai, ay kar say, kar say’,
meaning no no, don’t worry, he will study. That was my last meeting physically
with our Baba.”

   “What about your husband?”

    “He passed away. He had a strange
relationship with Baba. I have Baba’s picture and a light always burning. When
he thought that I wasn’t looking, I would see that he would go to Baba’s
picture and bow down. Only when I was not looking. If I was looking, he
wouldn’t do that ever. Before he passed away, he called out to me. They had
changed my name from Hilla to Kamal when I got married. He was in the hospital
and I knew that he couldn’t breathe. He called out, ‘Kamal, Kamal’, he adored
me all his life, even when he was dying. I said, ‘don’t say Kamal, say Meher
Baba, Meher Baba, Meher Baba’. He shut his eyes and I began to whisper in his
ears ‘Meher Baba, Meher Baba, Meher Baba, Meher Baba’. Then, I heard his lip
move and mouth ‘Baba’ and then he passed away. I did the same with my sister,
when she passed away. I gave her a teaspoon of her favourite ice-cream but it
came out. I wiped her mouth and I told Meherwan, ‘this is it, she is going
now’. Meherwan said, ‘can I call the doctor?’ I said,
‘no, they will give injections, they will put a tube here, a tube there. Just
let her go peacefully’. She couldn’t talk at that time. I just sat there, with
my hand on her head and I kept chanting in her ear ‘Meher Baba, Meher Baba,
Meher Baba’, till her last breath. You see one’s hearing power is the last to
go of the senses. Thus, the last sense she had was hearing our God’s Name, our
Meher Baba. That is how she would have wanted to go. I am so happy that I could
do this for her. For both of them. This is the story of my life, a beautiful
chapter in my journey, with Meher Baba as my God and Master.”

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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