Monday, 8 November 2010

Mani Damania's story.

While our generation is very sparse, and the one after even sparser, my grandparents came from a large family and one of them, Shirin Damania had a lot of kids - 5 sons and 2 daughters (survived to adulthood, that is). One of them, Rusi Damania, married very late, and this is the story of his wife, Mani.

Mani came from a very devout family living in Navsari, the anti-Meher Baba capital of India around 1967-68. When her parents received the proposal for her to wed my uncle (2nd cousin, actually) Rusi, they were very put off by the fact that Rusi's family was one that followed Meher Baba. However, Rusi lived in Rahuri, manager in a sugar factory there, and so was away from the direct influence of Meher Baba who lived in Ahmednagar. There were many stories about Baba floating around Navsari. One was that He mesmerised young girls and had His way with them. The other was that all His followers had to hand over their monthly pay packets to Him, and He'd dole out enough for them to live on. It was how Baba made His money, apparently!! There were so many stories, and Mani was very nervous.

On this side, however, Baba had got Eruch to write to the family that this was not a girl to let go of, and that if her family agreed, the marriage should be arranged with the utmost speed. And that she would add value to the family as perfume adds value to gold (actual Gujarati saying, "Soonaa maa suhaagu laagsey!) and that Baba totally approved. Armed with Baba's approval, the marriage was arranged and they married and went to live in Rahuri. Mani says, Rusi came from a family of close Baba lovers, but he did not believe in Baba himself. Infact, he'd mock his aunts and uncles for following Baba, which made him very acceptable to Mani's family in Navsari.

While living in Rahuri in late 1968, Mani received a postcard from Pilu Satha (brother to Gaimai, Eruch's mum and other various siblings from the Satha clan) saying she should come straight away to Nagar, Baba wanted to meet her. Her husband Rusi said "Don't go if you don't want to. I'll make some excuse." But Mani thought she'd have to go eventually so better get the visit out of the way. Accordingly she went to Nagar, and on the appointed day she and Pilu went to Meherazad.

Now Mani had been told that Baba should never be looked at directly in case He mesmerised her, nor should she go near Him or touch Him, to avoid being 'snared' into His circle of followers. So she did not go near Baba, rather tried to stay as far as possible. However, Baba called her and Pilu pushed her near to Him. She still refused to look at Baba directly, and merely stood with her head bowed. Baba asked her to bend down and put His hand on her head, then she was asked to sit near by. She did, and forgetting her instructions, she looked at Baba full-on. She remembers thinking, "You are just a man, you are not God or anything like that, I'm not afraid of you." before she recalled about not looking at Him. After that she turned sideways and sat. There was a young boy present, and Baba asked him, "Am I a man or am I God?" He unhesitatingly replied, "You are God, Baba." Baba asked, "Are you speaking from the heart or just saying this?" and he emphatically said, "I speak from my deepest heart, Baba." Mani still did not co-relate this exchange to her own thoughts, and soon after that Baba told them all to leave.

Narrating this, Mani has tears in her eyes. She cannot believe that she didn't take the chance to make the most out of her one visit with Baba. Her life since then has been spent with the Jessawala and Kerawala families and the Sathas, and she has had many opportunities to learn of Baba's Avataric status. She is a regular care-giver for Manu Jessawala at Meherazad, and loves Baba dearly. When asked when she started to accept Baba as God, she says, it took her a long time. Her husband Rusi died in 1978 and just before he died, he was in hospital with cancer of the liver.
He was in a sort of coma, but his pain was so intense, he would get up and try to shed his pyjamas and clothes, the burning must have been so intense. Mani wanted to nurse him, but wasn't sure that she could take this kind of agony, so she challenged Baba. "If you are God, mind that I don't believe you are, but if you are, you will stop Rusi's agony and make him calm." Mani says, shortly after that he calmed down and quietly passed away. Baba gave her many signs, and today her sons are grown up and doing very well, and she thanks Beloved Baba for all the blessings she has known, but she still bitterly regrets that she didn't take the chance to look at His face and touch His feet when He called her to visit Him.

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