SHEBA THE WATCH HORSE
The problem was that Sheba could climb up but not back down. To get her out again, the women had to lead her through the dining room to the kitchen, where there were only two smaller steps for her to negotiate. Even these, she did not want to go down. Mehera put grass on the steps and tried in other ways to induce the animal, standing in front of her coaxing her, but the horse would not budge. Finally, someone got behind and pushed, while another pulled from the front.
Mehera often watched as Sheba romped around their compound, galloping at full speed and kicking when she heard a noise on the road. At the slightest provocation, the horse found some excuse to kick, rear, gallop, and buck. The others would ask Mehera to clam her down, and Mehera called her and tried to make her stop.
The women's bungalow, as mentioned, was enclosed so that Sheba could not get out. Two pillars had once supported a wooden gate, which was broad enough for a bus to pass through. Since the gate had disintegrated, Baba had a long bamboo barricade erected, so that no one could walk in. If the mandali had any message for Baba, they pulled a rope, which rang a brass bell on the tree by the gate. Goher went and brought their message inside.
Often in the evenings, Mani read to Baba. Elizabeth had given them a subscription to Reader's Digest, which they enjoyed, and sometimes Mani read out interesting articles or jokes from it. Margaret also sent books by post. One evening at dusk, the women were sitting near Baba, listening to Mani, when they heard the bell ring. After a few minutes, it rang again. "We thought Goher was answering it," Mehera explained, "so we went on reading, unconcerned, thinking Goher would attend to it. But when it rang for a third time, we called out to her, 'Goher, go and see who is there!' There was no reply, so Meheru or Rano went to look."
It turned out that Goher herself was standing outside the gate, ringing the bell. Sheba, in a frisky mood, would not allow her inside; the horse knew it was too late in the evening for anyone to be coming inside their compound. At last Mehera came out, coaxed Sheba away, and Goher came in.
Baba asked what was happening, and Mehera quipped, "Sheba has become a watchdog now!"
MEHERA-MEHER, A Divine Romance, Vol. 3, pp. 122-123
2003 © David Fenster