ALWAYS OFF PIDDLING
Still, for poor Vishnu it was an ordeal because he was the one in charge of seeing to it that it all got loaded and unloaded whenever we got on or off a train, and we changed trains frequently, because Baba would go to out of the way places to contact masts. This meant switching trains a lot, and getting down from the trains and taking buses and bullock carts and whatnot. And it was always a hectic time for us, because at these little stations the trains do not stop for long. At a big junction the train might sit for half an hour, but at some little station, it would stop for five minutes at most and the crowd would always be so heavy that it was a struggle to get on or off the train in that time, never mind the luggage.
To give you an idea of just how much luggage we had, I remember an incident from this very trip I am telling you about. For one part of it we were in two different cars. We had managed to reserve a coupe for Baba, and there was an adjoining unreserved four-person compartment for the mandali. As the train pulled in, we all had our duties. I saw to it that Baba got on safely and was comfortable in the two-person coupe. Meanwhile Vishnu was seeing that all the luggage got on. And that was quite a job. He would count it all ahead of time, get it piled just so before the train pulled in, and then he would work as fast as he could to get it piled on board in time. Then he would count it all again to make sure he had everything. Only then would he rearrange it, stow it under the seats and so forth, so that the mandali could be comfortable.
Well, this time, as I said, we had a reserved car. So Vishnu put the luggage in the coupe. That was easier for him because he didn't have to worry about other people fighting to get on or lots of people getting off with luggage, and since we were at a small station and the train wouldn't be stopping long, Baba said Vishnu could put the luggage in the coupe. So he did, he piled it up and managed to get it all inside and quickly counted it, and it was all there, and he heaved a huge sigh of relief. We all did. After the crisis had passed once more, Baba was safely on board, all the luggage was on, and we could relax slightly.
So Vishnu went back to be with the others and I stayed with Baba in the coupe. But at the very first stop, Vishnu comes running to our compartment and asks if Gustadji is with us. We say, "No. Isn't he with you?" Vishnu says, "No, we can't find him anywhere, we must have left him behind."
Now what to do? Gustadji is an old man and, not only that, he is silent. So what will he do if he's been left behind? He has no money with him, he can't talk, he can't explain anything, and he has no way of catching up with us. So this is a real problem. Baba says, "Are you sure?"
And Vishnu says, "Baba, he is not with us. I was hoping maybe he was with You."
"But where can he be?" Baba asks. "Wasn't he with us at the station?"
"Yes, but maybe he wandered off to piddle and didn't make it back in time." You know that was Gustadji's way. His bladder was not good, and he had to piddle a lot and it would take him some time. He was slow, and it seemed whenever we needed to go somewhere, he was always off piddling. Haven't I told you about the day Baba stepped out of the New Life for a few hours and the meeting at Mahabaleshwar, and how some strangers got into the meeting place because Vishnu kept the gate open after Baba had told him to shut it? And why did he keep it open, because, as always, Gustadji had gone off to piddle and was slow coming back. So Vishnu said maybe Gustadji went off to piddle.
"But why did you let him go off like that?" Baba asked, and Vishnu replied that he was too busy with the bags to be able to notice where Gustadji was and he just assumed that Gustadji would get on the train.
All of this transpired very quickly, you understand, because the train was starting to roll again. So Baba gestured, "Go back, check through all the cars, because maybe Gustadji got in the wrong car by mistake, and then report back."
So Vishnu rushes back to his bogie just as the train pulls out and Baba turns to me and wonders what's happened to Gustadji and what are we going to do now.
Just then we heard a knock coming from the wall. "That must be Vishnu signaling us," I said. And we decided it was Vishnu's way of telling us that Gustadji had turned up after all. Because there was no connecting passage. There was no way for him to get us a message until the train stopped and he could run outside and approach our compartment. So we felt relieved that everything was okay. But Vishnu kept knocking. Every few minutes he would knock against the wall, and I felt, "Yes, we understand, we know Gustadji is with you. There is no need to keep knocking, we are not deaf." Because I was thinking this noise would disturb Baba. He was lying down on one of the berths and He was resting, and I thought there was no need for Vishnu to keep knocking on the wall every few minutes or so. So when we reached the next station and Vishnu came running up, I was taken aback when he blurted out, "Baba, Gustadji is not anywhere. I checked every other compartment and he is not on the train."
"Not on the train? So that is why you have been knocking on our compartment so often."
"What do you mean? I haven't been knocking on your compartment."
"Then who has... "
And just then we heard the knock again. So we investigated, and what did we find? Behind all the luggage which was piled up in our compartment was the door to the toilet and Gustadji had gone there to relieve himself when the train pulled in, and without realizing it Vishnu had piled up all the bags in front of the door and then poor Gustadji had found himself trapped inside. He was on silence so he couldn't say anything, so he was banging on the door to get our attention, but I hadn't looked because I thought the whole time it had been Vishnu banging on the wall to let us know that Gustadji was with them.
This is just to give you an idea of how much luggage we had and how hectic it was when we were getting on or off the train. In fact, one time, on this same trip that I have been telling you about, it so happens that after getting all the luggage on board, Vishnu counts it and discovers one bag is missing. That he has left one on the platform somehow in all the hustle and bustle of getting on the train in time. But we've already pulled out of the station. It is too late now to go back and get it.
Baba became very upset with Vishnu for this. And it becomes too much for Vishnu to take. He tried so hard to please Baba and now this happened and Baba is expressing His displeasure and Vishnu can't take it and he turns and starts getting wild on Gustadji. "It's all his fault, Baba," Vishnu says. "It is hard enough seeing to all of the luggage, but most of the luggage is Gustadji's rubbish which we are carting about with us. How can I keep track of our bags when every day he makes some new bundle of trash which he insists we carry with us? It is too much now, Baba."
And with that, Vishnu picks up one of Gustadji's bundles of trash and starts to throw it out the window. But Gustadji grabs it and is holding on to it so Vishnu can't throw it and they are pulling the bundle back and forth between them like a tug of war and, of course, Gustadji can't say anything but he's red in the face and holding on to his bundle for all he's worth and Vishnu is ranting and raving and all of this right before Baba, mind you, and finally Baba claps and makes them both sit down.
THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 58-62
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust