37. Story of the Present of Fried Rice
A certain son, after visiting the birthplaces of the Master and the Mother, was returning to Calcutta. The Mother was then staying at the Udbodhan House at Calcutta. The devotees of Nabasan’s family sent through him a few radishes of a place known as Bhavadighi, for which the Mother was known to have a special liking. They were sweet, being the product of hard soil. While the Mother stayed at Jayrambati, the members of Nabasan’s family would themselves carry them to the Mother; but now because the disciple was going to Calcutta, they got an opportunity after several days to make her a presentation of this favourite vegetable of hers. Taking a packet of these vegetables, the devotee was to go to Chapadanga via Arambagh, and then catch the train run by Messrs. Martin and Co. When he left Calcutta, the Mother had asked him to call on Bou-Ma, the mother of Mani Babu, on his way back. So reaching Arambagh, he had to go to Vayugram, where Mani Babu lived. Mani Babu’s mother was very happy, especially when she heard that the Mother had asked him to call on her. She gave him a hearty welcome, cooked so many dishes and fed him sumptuously. She asked him to spend the night there, so that she would be able to prepare something which the Mother liked very much Hearing that the Mother was not keeping good health because of acute rheumatism, Mani Babu’s mother had a great desire to meet her. But it was not possible to do so now, as her own daughter was ill. Hence her keenness to send something for the Mother through him Considering it a great good fortune to be able to carry something for the Mother, the disciple agreed to stay. After spending the night joyfully in talks about the Master and the Mother with his friend Mani Babu, he was about to start on his journey again the next morning.
Thereupon Mani Babu’s mother placed in his hand with great care, a biscuit tin well packed. When the disciple arrived at the Udbodhan at dusk, he found the Mother lying in bed suffering from acute rheumatism An attendant was rubbing ointment on her legs. As soon as the Mother’s eye fell on him, she was very happy and sat up. On being asked about the welfare of the devotees, he gave suitable accounts and told her that they had all sent their Pranams to her. Then he produced the packets of radishes and the biscuit tin and placed them in her hands. How elated the Mother was at seeing those radishes, as if they were precious rarities! Then like a little girl she eagerly opened the biscuit tin and was overwhelmed with joy at seeing what it contained. Seeing this joy of the Mother, the son became curious to know what substance it was. And lo! he found the precious thing was nothing else than Chal Bhaja (a type of homemade fried rice)!
On another occasion, when the Mother was again at the Udbodhan, the same devotee, when returning to Calcutta, carried with him a few mangoes from the mango tree planted by Sri Ramakrishna himself, and some quantity of the tasty vegetable called Patal, grown at the Koalpara Ashrama. How happy the Mother was on getting these! The mangoes were still a little green and had not yet ripened properly.
Ambol (Chutni) was prepared with it and offered to the Master! On that same occasion, the devotee had come passing through Vishnupur, where he paid a visit to Sureswar Babu’s house. The devotees of that place gave him some Sal leaves to be used as leaf-plates by the Mother, The Sal leaves of Vishnupur were very much liked by the Master because even the thin soup of Kalai pulse would not leak out of it. The joy that the Mother felt at getting these offerings of the devotees, though trivial, was just like what a child feels at getting a doll or a ‘Moa’ (a sweet ball made of puffed rice and molasses). Her preference for these simple little things to the many costly ones towards which she would not even turn her gaze would fill many with wonder. The Mother used to say, “Is the value of a thing to be gauged by its price? It is the love and devotion with which a thing is offered that really counts!”