THE POSSESSED CAR
Eruch Jessawala, Mani Irani, Don Stevens
We prepared ourselves, and the day came when we had to transfer the bags. In the luggage, packed in a trunk, were the five emblems made of soft white stone which I spoke of earlier: the Christian church, the Buddhist temple, the fire-urn of the Zoroastrians, the Muslim mosque and the Hindu temple.
These were Baba's 'toys' to play with as he started his Manonash work. We did not know what he wanted to do with these things, but he wanted us to carry them to the hill. I packed them, and Gustadji, Baidul, Pendu and I were to take the luggage there. Then I had to take the car back to Baba. The next day Don (Donkin) was to drive us back to the spot with Baba, and work would then start.
When we arrived all together near the hill I parked the car in a spot suitable to stop and park a car. The other mandali started ahead to inspect the place and see whether the work was finished so that we could take the luggage up later. When I had stopped the car some urchins gathered around and started asking questions. It was for this reason I had to be particularly careful, and so I locked all the doors.
In the meantime the mandali had not gone even half way up the hill, and I started to follow them. Then, all of a sudden, when I was about ten yards away from the car, it started moving. I thought that somehow I would be able to stop it. I tried to cling to it as it gathered momentum down the slope. I ran after the car like a mad man, trying to clutch something to hold onto it, but there was no room, not even a footboard. The windows were all rolled up, so I had no way to steer the car or to try to get in to do something. I just tried as if to caress the car as I ran beside it.
Mani: But you had locked the doors?
Eruch: Yes, I had locked the doors, and I had no way to unlock them now, because it was already going at 10 to 15 miles an hour and gathering speed. There were toddy palms about like date palms. They often grow very tall, but sometimes they tend towards the earth in a sloping fashion.
You won't believe it, but the car jumped over many of these trees, and it jumped over rocks like a horse, I tell you! By now all the mandali were down there, just watching. They were dazed. They didn't know what to do. For the first time in my life, and I hope it will be the last, I was really frightened. I was not worried about the car or our luggage. There was no luggage, practically, but I was very worried about those models. Baba had told me especially to be very, very careful of them, because only after long delay had we finally gotten them from Agra. They were made in Agra, by the way, in the north, near Delhi. You know the Taj Mahal?
Mani: The white, soft stone that they use for the models of the Taj Mahal.
Don: And these had been made to special descriptions given by Baba.
Eruch: Yes, to special specifications given by Baba. Many things had been done to get them just right, you see, and I was very afraid for them. I thought that all of them had certainly been smashed by now.
Don: Months probably lost.
Eruch: Months, yes. But, what do I find after the car had taken a run of about three quarters of a mile? It went into a paddy field, and there it got stuck.
Don: What a miracle!
Eruch: It was a miracle, I should say. Slowly, I got my breath back, walked down to the car and then opened the door. I thought that the oil pump and everything must have been broken, and Baba had asked me to bring the car back to take him to the cave early next morning with Donkin. I did not know what to do. Sitting down in the driver's seat I tried the engine. It started, but at once it began making a very peculiar noise, in fact a frightful noise. I said, 'It's all broken.' So I just kept quiet, full of desperation. You see, I was frightened, really frightened.
In the meantime we were expecting a truckload of fuel to be delivered for our use. You know the type called 'faggots'? We had to have a fire there so we had ordered some wood for fire.
Don: Carried by an auto truck, not a bullock cart?
Eruch: An auto truck, yes. So while I was just sitting there the truck driver came with the truckload of wood. He came over to me and said, 'What's the matter with the car? How is it that you have parked it in a paddy field?'
I said, 'Don't ask me that. You should have come about half an hour earlier.' So I asked him to help me get the car out. We towed the car from the paddy field with the help of the truck and brought it to a safe place. There, on level ground, we tried to find out what had happened underneath. Some of the straw from the paddy had caught underneath the motor, and this I removed. I again started the car, and you won't believe it. Nothing had happened, nothing! Absolutely nothing had happened to the car, and it started working. The peculiar noise had been due to the paddy straw. There was nothing wrong with it, and further, it didn't have a scratch on it.
Don: And the models had not been cracked?
Eruch: No! Of course, I had first to carry the models up the hill in their trunk and then unload the precious packages and try to find out whether there was any damage. Nothing! Not a scratch! Nothing had happened to anything. It was just that something had to happen to the car to give me the fright of my lifetime.
Mani: It jumped in its evolution and became a deer.
Don: And Eruch jumped in his involution by planes.
Eruch: That was a sight. And still we remember it. Sometimes we reminisce, and we remember that hour. It was a nightmare, so to say.
Don: And did Baba hear of it?
Eruch: Yes, the same evening when I went back. Baba inquired why I was late. What had happened? Was everything all right? And he was happy to hear all this and had a good chuckle. Just that, nothing more.
Don: Just a chuckle?
Eruch: The thing I can never understand about the antics of that car is that it went first in the forward direction, then it would just stop when it had come almost to where there was just sheer rock then it would reverse!
Don: Actually reverse, would it?
Eruch: Yes, it reversed. It would stop for a few seconds, and then start again and gather momentum in the reverse direction. Then it would stop again, reverse itself or take a turn, and go once more in the forward direction, meanwhile jumping over trees and stones and all that.
Don: Eruch, was the gear shift in neutral?
Eruch: Neutral, yes.
Don: Ah, because otherwise it couldn't have reversed.
Eruch: No. But I had put on the handbrake and everything was all right when I left the car. I'm very particular about cars, because I've had bad experiences sometimes when the handbrake was not properly set. Also, I had to pay particular attention because of the terrain there. It was only after inspecting the car carefully that I locked the doors. Unusual, the behavior of that car.
You know how Gustadji is when such things happen? More than what I narrated to Baba, it was Gustadji who made Baba happy. He embellished the story with different points of view. Because he was observing silence, naturally he had to act the scene. He would jump from place to place, sometimes acting the part of the children, sometimes acting the part of the car. This amused Baba a lot.
TALES FROM THE NEW LIFE, pp. 10-14
ed D. E. Stevens, Rick M. Chapman, James M. Hastings, Gary & Patty Freeman
1976 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust