I COULDN'T PULL MYSELF AWAY
At this point neither one of us knew that only minutes before Baba's dear sister Mani had rejoined her Eternal Beloved. I heard the news, which had been announced at the tomb, a short while later when I walked into the dining hall for breakfast.
Everyone came down the hill as Mani's body was taken to the cremation grounds at lower Meherabad. It was here that the intensity built to its height as many people attempted to get as close as possible for one last look at dear Mani's physical form. The women mandali each put flowers on Mani's body. Then a long line formed as everyone was given the final opportunity to put more roses on the growing mountain of flowers and garlands.
Finally, the area immediately surrounding the foot-high brick platform on which Mani's body rested was cleared and large logs were arranged around her body in a manner resembling a log cabin, concealing her body. The energy continued to rise as, amidst shouts of Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai, the male members of Mani's family, led by Rustom and Sorab, lit the funeral pyre.
I cannot even begin to elaborate on the feelings that were visible on the faces of those present, particularly the women mandali and the men mandali and those who had cared for Mani throughout her illness.
Strains of songs to our Beloved rose to the sky with the white smoke from the pyre. The crowd remained for quite some time, the songs continued on into the night, and the intensity in the air gave way to a deep peacefulness. By eleven or so almost everyone had left except for several young men from the youth Sahavas, a couple of the residents, and myself. I couldn't leave. I couldn't pull myself away. And so I stayed throughout the night as the fire slowly burned.
As the first rays of the sun began to fill the sky, the few of us who had kept the night-long vigil rose from the fire and turned to go up the hill for morning arti. We all looked at each other. We knew that even if we didn't see each other for years after this that we now shared a closeness that could be rekindled with a mere mention of this incredible night under the stars with Mani.
The experience had made us friends for life a sweet gift from Baba's dear sister Mani, a gift from a beautiful soul who had spent her entire life giving and giving more and more of Baba's Love to all who knew her. We are all blessed indeed to have had the wonderful experience of knowing, loving and being loved by our Lord's dear sister, Mani Irani.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!
LOVESTREET LAMP POST, Oct 1996, p. 23
ed. Dina Snow and David McNeely
1996 © Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California