BUS DRIVER IN PERSIA
C. B. Purdom
Therefore some members of Baba's party wondered why he took the land route to Bam and Duzdab when there were easier and safer routes by sea via Bunder Abbas. Even the manager of the bus service, which on rare occasions operated through the desert, expressed his surprise at the selection of this route and warned the party about the dangers and the risks they were undertaking in crossing the desert, telling them that "Going across this route is inviting death."
But when they insisted he promised to arrange it, though reluctantly. The route is mainly used for the transport of goods from Persia to the surrounding countries, and is not meant for passenger traffic. He promised to give them one of the most expert drivers on the route, thoroughly conversant with the perils of the crossing, and a good mechanic.
Baba had given definite instructions to reserve a bus exclusively for the party, with not a single article of luggage belonging to anyone else. This was promised, and all arrangements were made to start next day.
Before starting, however, Baba sent some of the party to see that his instructions had been carried out. The driver put in two bags of almond shells, saying that they were very light, which they were.
Baba did not like him breaking his promise, but though he was displeased he did not say anything, and the bus left Bam at about 4 p.m. The Mandali felt, from Baba's request being ignored by the driver, that "something" was ahead.
The next halt was after two hours, in a rest-house where the party could rest for the night, proceeding next morning. Although the bus was practically new and in a sound condition and was fitted with new tyres, two tyres burst within the period of one hour, to the amazement of the driver. They were already late by one hour through mending the last tyre, and still had some miles to go, when suddenly something went wrong with the radiator.
Steam puffed out of the radiator cap, though water had only recently been put in. On inspection all parts of the engine were found to be in good condition. The driver almost scratched his ear off trying to find out why the radiator got so hot without any apparent reason.
He poured in fresh water and started again, but after a few minutes the radiator again began to get overheated. Stopping the engine the driver again examined every part of it carefully. He racked his brains trying to find the cause of the trouble, when suddenly he discovered a crack at the bottom of the radiator, through which the water was oozing out.
It was the last thing the driver had expected. He could not proceed very far with the car in this condition, so he drove slowly and carefully to the resting-place, which was reached in safety. He tried the whole night to mend the cracked radiator, but in vain.
Tired, he went to rest in the morning, and tried again and again for two days. The resting-house was in a very small village, where it was impossible to get any material, but he managed to repair it at last. He mixed some powder with the white of an egg, making it into a paste through which the water could not ooze out.
All wondered how he had done it. The man's skill and perseverance were remarkable: he repeatedly uttered: "Ya Allah [Oh, my God], I never had such an experience before!" He started the engine after the radiator was filled with water. It ran smoothly for a few minutes, and then the water began to ooze out again.
He was taken aback, utterly broken. It was in this moment of despair that the realization of "something" he had up till now failed to realize came to him. He rushed to the room where Baba was sitting.
He met Kaikhushru Afsari (of Baba's Mandali), and cried to him, "Brother, I realize now why and how it all happened. It is all so clear. I broke my promise to your Master, and this is the result of my ignorance and folly! How can I ask for his mercy and pardon now? I feel so miserable and ashamed to show my face to him. Won't you plead for me, please?"
Afsari understood and sympathized. But he had warned the driver seriously before starting from Bam not to break his promise to Baba, but the driver had taken it too lightly at the time. However, now that he realized his mistake and had suffered so much he was taken to Baba, who not only forgave him, but advised him: "Never disregard the word of a Buzoorg. And never break a promise, and be true to your word, to whomsoever given."
He was instructed to return to Bam in the same car, driving slowly and carefully, and to bring another car immediately. It seemed impossible to drive the car with its leaking radiator over such rough and rugged roads across the desert. But Baba told him not to worry, that he would see that he reached Bam safely, provided he followed his instructions and drove slowly.
It looked hopeless, but he agreed to venture on the four hours' journey back, now that he knew who Baba was. He reached Bam without mishap and sent another big car with another driver, as he felt too tired to come back himself.
All this meant a delay of three days for Baba and the party in an isolated desert place, though he kept himself and the others busy one way or the other.
What they thought was this: that the chauffeur had suffered, but in suffering had learned a lesson and had an unforgettable experience; how much Baba had suffered to teach a lesson to an individual, he alone knew!
THE PERFECT MASTER, pp. 143-146
1976 © Sheriar Press, Inc.