Symbols of the world's religions



Sheela Kalchuri Fenster

Long fingernails were in fashion, and I too started growing my nails. When I went to Meherazad, I was about to embrace Baba when he held up his hand and gestured, "Wait." He noticed my nails.

I was so happy to show him. "Don't they look good?!" I said delightedly.

"Why do you keep such long nails?"

I had to think of something quick. If I said they were in vogue, I knew Baba would find that a petty reason for growing them. So I said, "They are useful for drawing."

"Drawing? I never heard that."

"I scratch the paper with my nails, so it's easier to draw lines with them."

"Why did you keep ten?"

"Suppose one nail breaks, then I can use another one."

"Then do one thing: cut them, keep them in your pocket, and use them for drawing when you need them."

Baba didn't really believe me. "You look like a tiger," he remarked. "If you embrace me, you might scratch my neck." On and on he went. "Right now I am going to cut your nails."

He called Goher and told her to bring a nail clipper. I was worried. Suppose Baba gets hurt while cutting my nails. Mehera would be very upset, and I would be in trouble. I said, "Baba, when I go home, the first thing I will do is cut my nails. I won't keep them anymore."

"No, right now, I have to cut your nails."

"Please, Baba, I will cut them myself. I promise."

Baba relented and ordered me not to let them grow back. Still I didn't get a hug from Baba that day because of my long fingernails. I told Baba I would keep my hands behind me while I embraced him but he refused.

When we went for lunch, he asked Mehera, "Have you ever seen a tiger?" She said she had seen tigers in the zoo. Baba said, "Not in the zoo, right here is a tiger," and he pointed at me. "Show Mehera your nails."

Baba made me parade around the table showing my nails to each one. It was so embarrassing. It would have been better to admit the truth, that I had grown them to be fashionable.

I cut my nails at home and never grew them again. Even today, I remember Baba's order and cut my nails weekly.


GROWING UP WITH GOD, pp. 545-546
2009 © David and Sheela Fenster


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