86. The Mother’s Condescension to a lowly-placed Son
The Mother’s unique way of fulfilling the longings of her weak children, is something wonderful to contemplate. Some examples of it which took place during her last illness would very well illustrate it.
Getting news of the Mother’s illness, a certain lowly son of hers had come from a distant region. Being known to all the attendants well, he was allowed to have a Darsan of the Mother every day. He would enter her room quietly, mentally make Pranam to her from a distance, and if allowed to approach her, do so and speak a word or two with her, and leave the room the moment he felt that he had been there too long. His heart palpitated lest the Mother should suffer from talking with him more than what was safe for her, and the authorities who observed it should put a stop to the little facility he was getting of having a glimpse of the Mother. As the Mother was sick, he could not make Pranam to her; and to touch her feet, was out of question. The most he could do was to salute her sometimes joining his palms. The feeling welled up in his heart: “Alas, how unlucky I am I have not been able to talk with the Mother to my heart’s content even once, nor touch her.” He was thus visiting the Mother, keeping the intense sorrow of his heart smothered within. He did not give the slightest indication of his feelings to the Mother, arguing within himself, “As it is, the Mother is suffering much. How can I further add to it? The Mother has taken our sins on herself and is suffering in consequence.” These thoughts filled him with shame and repentance. With folded hands he was praying secretly to the master, “Pardon me, Lord, Thou hast showered enough grace on me and fulfilled so many of my desires. I have no regrets. Only please cure the Mother of her illness. Please do not make us motherless orphans for some time more.” The little throne with the Master’s picture on it was in front of the Mother’s bed. Thus praying to the Master and making Pranams to him and the Mother mentally every day, he would depart from the Mother’s room.
Now one noon he went towards the Mother’s room for some purpose, when the Mother beckoned to him through the slightly opened door to go in. As soon as he reached her bedside, she asked the Sevika to give the fan to him and go. The son was filled with great joy and wonder at this. He thought that the Sevika had to go for some other work and the Mother was waiting for an opportunity to relieve her. The doctor’s instruction was that the Mother should sit up and rest for about an hour after the noon meal and then lie down and sleep. That was why the Mother was sitting up on her bed, resting her Backagainst a bolster with her legs stretched forward. After the Sevika departed, the son started fanning the Mother slowly, and she spoke a word or two to him now and then. She was just feeling a little sleepy, but was trying to keep awake by talking with the son. It was after a long time that the Mother and the son had come so close to each other. Everyone in the house was resting after the noonday meal. So the house was absolutely quiet. Only sometimes the sound of a word or two, spoken in the office room below, came floating. A vague fear of possible consequences sat heavily on his heart, forcing him, to stand there mute. Lest his touch should have any aggravating effect on the Mother’s ailment, the son was deliberately standing a little away from the bed. But the Mother, to satisfy his mind and soul for the rest of his life, started talking to him very slowly in a mood of great intimacy. After dwelling on several topics, the Mother referred to her present ailment and said that all the expert treatment had no curative effect on it. At this the son tried to pacify her as one did a little girl, saying, “No, no, through the grace of the Master it will be all right. You should have no worry.”
There was, however, no sign of any sorrow or worry in the Mother’s eyes, face or words, about her body. Finding that the Mother had not the least attachment for her body, the son’s mind was filled with great sorrow and worry; for it foreboded danger. But with a view to hide this feeling within himself, he tried to maintain the trend of his talk about the malady getting cured. Looking at his face, the Mother said, “Just see how a dimple can be produced on my body.” So saying, she pressed the tip of her finger on her foot. When the son stared at the depression thus formed, she asked him to see it for himself by pressing a finger of his.
As the son was afraid to touch the Mother’s body, he hesitated to comply with the Mother’s suggestion. But as the Mother insisted, he lightly touched the Mother’s foot with the tip of his finger. At this the Mother was not at all satisfied. So he had to press a finger well on the Mother’s foot and see the dimple. From the way the Mother kept on staring at this hollow, it seemed as if it was not on her foot but on that of some one else! Seeing the dimple taking a long time to vanish, it was brought home to the son that swelling had started because of the paucity of blood. His face became dejected and his heart more so. He stood still, stunned! The Mother most probably understood what was passing through the son’s mind. She changed the topic from that of her illness. But the dark cloud that made its appearance in the heart of the son that day, went on spreading day by day, till it made everything dark after some time! When the time-piece indicated that one hour had elapsed, the Mother laid herself down on the bed and rested. The son stayed near her, fanning slowly to drive away the flies. After a little rest and a short nap, the Mother got up. To enable her to wash her face, the son held a basin before her. She first dropped in it the half-chewed betel from her mouth. After the mother had washed her mouth and face, the son took the basin away to clean it. As he threw the contents out, all of a sudden he woke up to the fact that he had wilfully thrown away a great treasure – the half-chewed betel leaves, her Prasada. This he would hardly be able to get again. The Mother then wanted to have a drink. On holding the cup to her lips, it was found that the Mother could not swallow the water. After slightly massaging her chest, she could gulp the liquid. The Mother looked at the face of the son, who thus made her slowly have a few sips of water. His desire to render some personal service to the Mother was somewhat fulfilled this way no doubt, but along with it he had the painful realisation that all hopes of her recovery were now shattered and that the end was very near.
It was afternoon. There came the sound of the inmates stirring about again. One of them came to the Mother for something. The Mother took the bunch of keys attached to the end of her cloth and placing it in the hands of the son, asked him to take out some money from her box. Putting his hand on the little steel box which had always been with the Mother on her travels, he opened it and saw the well-arranged articles within it. At this the thought came to him again and again. “Oh Mother, Thou art verily the great Mahamaya Herself! Art Thou really winding up so soon Thy terrestrial play to which, through Thy grace, Thou hast made this son of Thine a witness? If before this, I had the slightest inkling of it, Mother, I would have taken care to
see it all in greater detail.”
After four in the evening, another person came for the Mother’s service and the son had to take his leave. He went out with a smile on his face, but his heart was full of sorrow and dejection. After crossing the threshold of the Udbodhan, he reached the street. The thought came to him, “Let me see if I can recover a little of that consecrated half-chewed betel roll.” After a search he could get at a little of it which filled him with joy and satisfaction. He did not dare to search for more, lest others should come to know of it. Just at that time he found Sudhira Devi at the bottom of the staircase to the Mother’s room kneeling and bowing down with great devotion prior to going for the Mother’s Darsan. Thus the Mother gave profusely as a ‘last gift’ to the son But, ‘can a destitute retain a treasure even if he gets one!’