Symbols of the world's religions



Mani S. Irani

If you open a big dictionary to look for a word and discover a little leaf in there, a leaf you had pressed in its pages a long, long time ago, how would you feel? I'm sure you'd be absolutely delighted, as I was when it happened to me.

And if you pull out a cheap office file from old forgotten records and open it to find precious childhood memories pressed between its yellowed pages, what would it be like?

It happened to me not long ago, and I can tell you what it's like. Finding that file was like finding a treasure chest which had lain buried deep in the wrinkles of time. And what were the "gems" in that old musty file? Letters, letters to Baba from His family. Among the most precious were letters from Mother to her beloved Son. And, of course, from kid sister to her beloved Brother! These letters were written in Gujerati and dated 1926-1928. They open a creaky door to forgotten memories and light up facets of what it meant to be His family.

I shall touch only on my letters which I wrote to Baba from Poona when I was seven to nine years old. They were written in Gujerati, and the quotes I give here are an informal translation.

How did I address Baba in these letters? Did I begin with "Dear Brother", "Darling Brother", or some such personal greeting? Oh no. When I was little I had to be very "grown-up" for Baba, to keep up with all the learned grown-ups around. I knew the formal way in which one addressed a high-up person in society, like a baronet or a barrister or suchlike. Would I do less for Baba? He who was the very topmost?

So, after formally heading my letter with "Shree Meher Baba" in red ink and flourishing strokes, I would usually begin my letter with "May it be known to Shree Meher Baba that I hope You are well..." After a couple of lines I would lapse into being the little sister imploring Him, "Please turn the key and quickly call me to You." There were PS's all over — "Turn the key. Please hurry up and turn the key."

What did it mean? Well, when a key is turned, a door is unlocked. With Baba holding the Key to all doors, He had only to turn it and open the way for me to be with Him again!

There were other demands: "Come daily in my dreams." And when He did, I would write and tell Him, "I am very, very, and very happy that You came in my dream."

When I wanted to emphasize a feeling, I was inclined to write the word a number of times. When I was sick and couldn't write to Him, I'd ask His forgiveness: "Definitely, definitely, and definitely forgive me."

I couldn't help being rather possessive about Baba and kept an eye on Him all the way from Poona. In those days the women mandali were referred to as the "under-nah", meaning "insiders", because they were never seen outside of their cloistered quarters. So, in 1927 I wrote to Baba, "Do write and let me know whether the Insiders are taking good care of You. Otherwise I won't talk to them!"

I would also make sure that Baba didn't ever forget me and I would use every little excuse to remind Him of me. Once it happened that I was being Mother's scribe, writing down a letter to Baba which she dictated while she was cleaning the vegetables. She ended it with, "Your father, as well as Mani, send lots of regards to You."

Ah! My name in that sentence was all I needed to draw Baba's attention to me. I wrote my name clearer and bigger than the rest of the words in that letter, used red ink to highlight it, underlined it to make it stand out, and put it in quotes to be sure He didn't miss it! It seemed to blink and beep out a clear message: "Hello Baba, this is me, remember? Me, MANI, your kid sister — here I am, see?"

But there is one gem in all of this unearthed treasure which I claim as mine, and mine alone.

It is a gem which lights up my heart and fades all other desires.

What is this gem?

Just a line, a line in a letter my mother wrote to Baba when I was seven years old:

"Night and day, Mani remembers You."


GOD-BROTHER, pp. 80-84
1993 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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