It has been a long time since I have written in my blog, but I haven't really felt prompted to write. Since I have been in Meherazad since 25 July 2010, I have once again started taking walks with Meherwan and my store of Baba stories has grown, and I'll be sharing them shortly. However, this trio of stories comes from my aunt Manu Jessawala and are all about Shirinmai, Baba's mother.
Shirinmai was very close to the Jessawala women; Gaimai, Manu and Meheru. She used to treat them as her family and happily spent time with them and used their clothes and other personal items even though she was very selective and never used anyone else's. She also did not hesitate to make requests of them, and because they had been told by Baba to look after His mother and do as she said they'd try and do so and often get scolded by Baba for their troubles.
I may have posted the story of the fish that Shirinmai ordered from my grandmother Banu (who lived in Mumbai but was going to visit Meherabad) but I will repeat it quickly..Gaimai asked her sister Banu to bring fried pomfret for Shirinmai who had asked for it inspite of Baba's strict order that there be no non-vegetarian food in Meherabad at the time. A strict diet of daal and rice and a single vegetable for lunch and a single vegetable and chappatis for dinner was in force. Since the Avatar's mother ordered the fish, Banu brought them, but just as she was about to eat it a cat appeared from nowhere and ran off with the entire fish. Hot on the heels of the cat was Baba who came, sniffed and said He smelt fish - who dared to disobey His order and bring fish into the Ashram? The whole saga had to be related to Him, He was very displeased and scolded all - His mother, Gaimai and Banu - for disobeying Him. His mother scolded Him back saying He could not bear to see her have even a small pleasure and that is why the cat had stolen her fish.
Similarly, one time she got Manu to make her a very spicy tomato patia which is like a sauce but eaten with daal and rice. Just as she was about to put the first morsel into her mouth, Baba walked in, looked at what she was about to eat and stopped her. He scolded Manu inspite of Mother saying there was no need to reprimand her because she was only following her own request/order. Then Baba sat down and ate every bit of his mother's meal, licking the plate clean, and told her to stop trying to disobey Him. Once again she was angry at her son for denying her this small pleasure.
At the ground-breaking ceremony of Byramangala Baba had invited His mother to be with Him when He performed the ceremonies, and she was so pleased and happy to be near her son. She felt that she needed to make a good impression so she got Gaimai to dress her up. She wore the special sari that had been got for Gaimai for Meherwan's Navjote and also the jewellery that went with it, had her hair done properly and looked a picture!! She was so sure Baba would be pleased with all the efforts she had made and was eagerly waiting for Him to come and escort her to the place where the event was to take place. When Baba arrived He was dressed in the old patched coat He always wore and His old sandals. He took one look at Shirinmai and gestured that she should remove all the finery and dress simply. How would it look for His mother to be so expensively and finely dressed? People would question where Baba found the money to afford such luxurious clothes for His mother, and so on (or "Yada, yada, yada" as the Jews would say!). She was reduced to tears of disappointment and frustration, but Baba did not budge until she had changed back into her simple every-day clothes and then only did He take her with Him.
Shirinmai comes across as a woman who is real and strong. She is someone I would have loved to have been able to meet. Opinionated, luxury-loving, worldly and canny (she managed most of the finances, Sheriarji being more spiritually inclined and very generous) yet innocent and childlike. She had very definite views and was often left behind because Baba spent time with His spiritual mother Gulmai (I put Daulatmai in the original post in error, and Babaelf pointed out my mistake, thank you!). She wanted a son who would be a worldly success but she got the Avatar instead. Yet, she accepted that He was the Avatar and obeyed Him, though not always immediately and implicitly.
There is a final chapter to Shirinmai's story. Baba was in Panchgani and going to Meherabad for His birthday. He had said that He would pass through Poona and pick up His mother to go with Him. Gaimai, Manu and Gulamasi (Gaimai's other sister) had gone to Baba-house to ask Mother if she was going to go, and she said she was not feeling well, could they stay with her? So they stayed and Mother's health deteriorated. Meanwhile, Baba's car had a puncture and they were delayed. By the time Baba arrived in Poona Shirinmai had died. Gaimai, who was closest to her and whom Shirinmai loved very much, saw rays of intense light coming out of her nostrils as she was breathing her last, and also what she called 'Parees' or fairies come out of her mouth as she died. When Baba arrived He said that it was really fortunate that the car had a puncture. Had He arrived while Mother was still alive it would have been His duty as a son to stop her dying, though she would have had to suffer if that happened.