BEGGING IN THE NEW LIFE
"But whom shall we ask?" I wanted to know.
"Never mind," Baba replied. "You will feel inclined to ask somebody."
So with this slender guidance in mind we went out, usually in pairs, and as we walked through the streets, passers-by would come to our attention and under our scrutiny. If one companion selected a prospective donor, he would first talk it over with the other and only when there was common agreement on the person to be approached, would a request be made. In one particular case, I made the first advance.
"Good morning," I said in my opening greeting to the man.
"Good morning. What do you want? Are you strangers here?" he asked.
"Yes sir, we are strangers here. We are pilgrims and the rest of our party is following. Twenty of them. So..."
"We would like you to help us."
"What help can I render you?"
"Do you live here?"
"Yes, I am a local person."
"Well, can you help us with supplying food for seven days to a party of twenty-two people? If you can, please say so, if not, we do not want to force anything on you."
The man looked at us vacantly at first and then gradually something seemed to seep into his mind and he said, "Wait, wait. It's all right. Yes, I can do that. Where are you all putting up?"
"We haven't decided as yet," I answered. "The party is yet to come and we two are the only ones here now. They will follow us and we will be on the outskirts of the city."
"Oh!" was all the man said.
"But," I continued, "the condition is that you should not try to contact the persons concerned and neither should you want to know who the party is. You will be required to supply morning breakfast, lunch and supper, but you need not bother with tea as we will take care of that. All we want from you are the main meals."
Invariably we found that whenever Baba sent us out on a begging expedition, as in this case, the search was successful. The man who had agreed to our request wanted to know what time he should have the food ready for us at his house, but our instructions were to tell the donor that he had to arrange to send the food to the place where we were staying. Apparently this proviso bothered him not a bit for he replied, "Oh, is that so? All right, but what time would you want it?"
"We will arrange that when the party arrives," I answered. "So where should we contact you?"
The man then took us to his house and this also gave us the opportunity to see that he had the means to do what he had promised and after inviting us in, said, "Whenever the party comes, just tell me ahead of time so I can make preparations."
When the food was received, Baba asked me, "Well, what time did you tell him to deliver it?"
"Baba," I replied "You said it should be here by twelve o'clock."
"What is the time now?" He asked.
"It is one o'clock."
"Why is it so late? Tell him that. Go and tell him that."
So I complained to the servant who was not really to blame and asked him to pass the tidings on to his employer. "Tell the boss," I said, "that we would like lunch brought earlier and on time."
On the next day when the empty lunch vessels were returned to the servant, I gave him another message from Baba: "Tell your boss to see that supper comes here on time and that he should send a sweet dish with it." The messages to the boss began to mount: "Tell your boss we are different kinds of pilgrims. We eat onions and garlic, so see that it is put in the food: tell your boss we would like some pickles also; tell your boss that the taste of curry was not good and that it should be more spicy." However, the boss took no umbrage at the repeated commands which reached him and he fulfilled every one of them as ordered.
The success we had in this instance was repeated on four other occasions and it was Baba's way of showing us that wherever there is helplessness there is also mastery. He, the Lord of the Universe, just wished and everything was there.
THE ANCIENT ONE, pp. 64-66
1985 © Naosherwan Anzar