"HAVE YOU SEEN A MAN WHO LOOKS LIKE THIS?"
Mehera J. Irani
Now we go back a little to the time in 1922 when I first saw Baba in Sakori. Baba's aunt, Dowla Masi (Shireenmai's sister), also visited Upasni Maharaj's ashram while we were there. On seeing my sister, who was then nineteen years old, she asked my mother if she wanted her elder daughter to be married. Dowla Masi had in mind Rustom Kaikhushru Irani (Gulmai's son and Adi K. Irani's brother), from Ahmednagar. My mother asked her, "Is he following this path?" by which she meant was he spiritually inclined.
"He is a Baba-lover and a fine person. If you see the boy you will like him. He is in Bombay with Baba in Manzil-e-Meem," Dowla Masi told my mother. "It will be a very nice match for Piroja. These Iranis are a very good family and are well respected in Ahmednagar."
Then my mother felt very happy with the match. So she and Dowla Masi went to Upasni Maharaj Who, on being asked, was also quite pleased with it. He allowed the three of them, my mother, Piroja, and Dowla Masi to go to Bombay to discuss the matter with Baba in Manzil-e-Meem, while I stayed on at Sakori.
At Manzil-e-Meem they greeted Baba and had His darshan. After being told, Baba was also agreeable to the match.
"Call Rustom," He said, "they must see each other."
So Rustom and Piroja met each other and agreed to marry. In early March 1923 my sister's engagement to Rustom was held in Manzil-e-Meem in Baba's presence. Up till then my sister's name had been Piroja, but at Manzil-e-Meem Baba changed it to Freni. Baba had had a younger sister called Freni whom He had dearly loved, but she had died when she was still a child. Now Baba said to my sister, "I loved My sister Freni very much, and I give you her name, Freni." And so from that day my sister was called Freni.
The wedding was to take place in Ahmednagar, where Rustom's family lived, on 9 May 1923. Rustom had told Baba that he would marry only if Baba attended the wedding, and Baba had promised to come. This is why Baba left Manzil-e-Meem and came to Ahmednagar. My mother was very busy making arrangements for the wedding, so I stayed on at Sakori with Freny Masi.
Rustom had arranged for Baba and His mandali from Manzil-e-Meem to stay at what was then called Khushru Quarters, and which now is the Trust Office and named Meher Nazar. It was owned at that time by Rustom's family, though they stayed not there, but in a new three-story house nearby called Sarosh Manzil. Khushru Quarters had been empty for some time and was rather dilapidated and in need of repair. When Baba and His party arrived in Ahmednagar some days before the wedding, the repairs had not been finished and they could not stay there. Rustom then arranged for Baba to stay for a few days at Happy Valley near what is now Meherazad, and a place where Ram and Sita had rested so long ago.
When Khushru Quarters was ready, Baba with His mandali, returned to Ahmednagar. They stayed at Khushru Quarters, and a few wedding guests, who were close family members or friends, stayed with Rustom's family at Sarosh Manzil. The rest of the guests stayed at the nearby Parsi Fire Temple, which has space for many guests.
Now Adi K. Irani was staying not with Baba at Khushru Quarters, but with his family at Sarosh Manzil. Every morning Adi would come to visit Baba, and Baba would ask him for any news. On this particular morning Adi told Baba that a guest had made some derogatory remarks about Baba. I do not know what they were; I was not there. I only know the gist of it.
Baba was very upset. "I've been invited to this wedding. I've only come here to please Rustom and they behave like this!" Baba immediately got up and started to walk out of the compound.
It was early morning, just after breakfast, and the mandali were not yet ready for the day. Some were in the bathroom, some just finishing their tea. Their tea glasses (they had their tea in aluminum glasses) were dirty, and their bedding rolls were untied. Those who saw Baba leaving shouted to the others, "Come quickly! Baba has left!" They were frightened that they would lose sight of Baba, and they came running from everywhere: out of bathrooms and bedrooms, stuffing dirty glasses and plates into their bags, and hastily tying up bedding rolls.
After Baba they all came running, and they caught up with Him on Station Road. It was just after the First World War, and at that time it was so quiet. There were no motor cars, no buses, no trucks in sight. Occasionally a bullock cart would pass by, or a bicycle, or two or three people. There was no traffic and hardly any houses along that road.
Baba was walking very quickly along this road which leads to the railway station. The mandali thought that Baba, because He was so upset, would leave Ahmednagar. But when they came to the fork in the road Baba did not continue straight ahead towards the station, but paused for a second and turned to the left. Now they decided that He was taking them to Dhond, the next town along this road, and many miles away, but after five or six miles Baba stopped under a neem tree around which a stone seat had been made. Nearby was a well, and after Baba rested there a while He said, "We're thirsty. The well is so close, but how shall we draw water from it? Ask the first person you see to bring us a rope and a bucket."
One man came by and the mandali stopped him and told him, "We need some water. Please help us. Bring a pail and a rope so we can draw drinking water from this well." So this man ran to his home in nearby Arangaon village, and he brought the bucket and rope. Baba and all the mandali had some water. This man was a Hindu, and he was very fortunate to serve Baba like this. His name was Mr. Patel, and he became quite devoted to Baba. It was his bullocks that later pulled Baba's car out of a bog in Toka.
Then it began to get dark and Baba said, "We need some light. Ask the next person you see to bring us a lantern." Another man came by, and when asked for a lantern he ran to the village and brought Baba a lantern. Baba blessed this man and said, "May there always be light in your house." This man was a converted Christian.
By this time, Rustom had discovered that Baba had left Khushru Quarters, and he began to search frantically for Him, asking everyone, "Have you seen a man who looks like this?" describing Baba. Eventually someone pointed Rustom towards Arangaon. Rustom was so relieved that Baba had not left by train! He followed the road until he found Baba.
"Baba, if you don't come back to Ahmednagar, I won't marry! You promised You would be there, so please, Baba, forgive those people. At least come to the wedding," he begged.
So Baba returned to Ahmednagar, and He did not stay in Khushru Quarters where He had previously been, but at Sarosh Manzil in the very top room. It was a lovely little room with its own entrance, so the mandali could come and go and bring Baba His meals. As all four sides of the room were half glass and half wall, it had a bird's eye view of Ahmednagar.
Baba attended the wedding, and Rustom felt happy.
MEHERA, pp. 37-39
1989 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust