15. How the Mother was anxious to Feed Her Children
It was winter. Some disciple-sons of the Mother had come from a distant land to have Darsan of her, learning that she was then down with fever. As soon as they reached the Mother’s place in the afternoon, they asked if they could get in that place some food other than rice. For, they had no food the whole day, and they had been walking a long distance. A son, who was staying there then, informed them that there was some Khichuri leftover from the noonday preparations, but that it was very cold and one should not take such cold food in winter. If they just waited a little, he offered to heat it for them. But they were so very hungry that they could not bear the delay, and took that cold Khichuri to their fill with great satisfaction. The Mother was not consulted about it. When she came to know about it from another, she sent for the son who had served them the Khichuri. The Mother was lying on her bed, and as soon as the son came to her, she cast an anguished look at him and said in a choked voice, “My dear boy, you gave them cold Khichuri to eat. If this brings fever?” Seeing the Mother’s worry and sorrow, he also felt very sad and repentant. He, however, told her hesitantly that he, too, did not want to serve them cold Khichuri, but was compelled to do so because of their extreme hunger. The Mother still went on lamenting. It was because she was sick that these boys had come from distant places to see her, taking so much trouble but alas! she could not look after them or feed them herself. And now they have taken cold Khichuri and would most likely be sick themselves! The son, too, now understood that it would have been better if he had consulted her before acting. So both of them felt much worried, and when the next morning they found the visitors in good health through the grace of the Master, they felt relieved.
Allow me to narrate one or two incidents more about how the Mother would feed her children with love and care. One of her sons, on falling ill, had gone away for a change and treatment to another place. He now came Backafter a month or so, having recovered his health. At night he was sitting for his meal along with the others. The Mother was watching them at their meal, and also herself serving Chapatis (Indian bread).
When the Mother asked her erstwhile sick son how many Chapatis he would take, he said ‘four’. At this she was taken aBackand cried out: “What! Are you still not able to take more than four Chapatis?” There was so much pain in the feeling reflected in the Mother’s voice that everybody was wonderstruck and felt that the Mother’s heart had broken down at this information. Thereupon the son pacified the Mother and told her that his health was all right and that he did not generally require
more than four Chapatis at night.
There was another son, who was then staying at the Mother’s place. Every day he performed some work which involved much physical labour, or engaged himself in some tiring exercise like wrestling. He would therefore take a few more Chapatis at night. One afternoon, the cook asked him, rather sharply, to let her know definitely how many Chapatis he would take that night. These words of the cook entered the ears of the Mother. That the boy should be accosted with such sharp words as regards his food, pained the Mother. Thereupon she said in a firm voice addressing the cook, “He is a young boy and will take as many Chapatis as he requires. Why should one keep a count of them? You need not bother. I shall myself look after it.” At these words of the Mother the cook felt ashamed and slipped away quietly. It is in matters of feeding that one can see the heart of a mother.