Symbols of the world's religions



Mehera J. Irani

I was educated at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Poona. One day, when I was about eleven years old, my friend Zeena came up to me at recess and said, "Mehera, let's go to Babajan. She is very great and whatever you ask for she will give you. So, come with me now."

I remember thinking, Babajan's tree is very far from here, I knew she sat under a neem tree on the roadside, and I also knew that it would not be possible for Zeena and me to go there and return before the school bell would ring. I was always very shy, not at all bold, and I told Zeena that we would miss the bell and would not get back in time. Zeena said, "No, Babajan is just close by."

Our school was surrounded by a high wall. I had no idea that Babajan was really sitting just on the other side of the school wall. But Zeena was insistent and again said, "Babajan is just close by." So we held hands and went together.

As we approached Babajan, Zeena said to me, "Think hard what you want to ask for, and you go first!"

I said, "No, you go first!" You see, I was not prepared to ask for anything. I was just going along because my friend Zeena wanted me to come with her. You know, so many girls would know what to ask for — to be first in their class, or to have higher education. But I never cared for all that, and anyway it was not in my destiny.

Zeena knelt before Babajan and whispered something which I could not hear. Then it was my turn. I knelt before Babajan and she looked at me almost questioningly. I had nothing in my mind to ask for, so I started to glance around quickly. There was a tonga in the distance and suddenly my attention was drawn to the horse.

I have always loved horses. My father had taught me to ride when I was a six years old, but after he died, my mother did not want to keep horses as they require a lot of work. You need to have a groom, proper food, and space to exercise them. Seeing the horse though, I said to Babajan, "I want a horse."

Babajan nodded her head and gazed at me with a very slight smile. How can I describe it? Well, "knowing". Then she looked upward toward the sky and started to speak very softly in Urdu. I could not catch most of what she said as her head was turned to the side away from me. But I did hear her say, "Yes, He will be very beautiful. All the world will love Him."

Babajan spoke some more words under her breath, then turned toward me and said, "All right beta (beta means 'my child'), you may go." I got up and Zeena and I caught hands and ran back to school. Once in school, we were so busy that we promptly forgot about our visit to Babajan.


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