Meheru Irani, Beloved Baba's last woman Mandali, passed peacefully into the waiting arms of her Beloved Meher Baba at 4.06 p.m. IST. She had been in a coma since her stroke at 8.15 a.m. on 19 April 2012. She was surrounded by her loving caregivers and other close ones. Though I was not there at the end, I had seen her at 3.45 p.m. and her breathing had changed. She was not breathing deeply - only her chest lifted, unlike earlier in the day when her abdomen to would rise and fall with each breath - and there was a soft rattle in her throat. At around 4.08 p.m. we heard the call that she had gone to Baba and rushed over to the main Meherazad bungalow to see her at peace and gently smiling.
Meheru was the youngest of the women Mandali, niece of Mehera Irani. She was intelligent, full of life and at times sharp. She had a temper but she also had the ability to forgive and forget. When she used to come stay at Bindra House in Pune she would help me with my homework. She and I once memorised "The Ballad of Father Gilligan". In that poem there is a beautiful line: "He Who has made the night of stars for souls who tire and bleed sent one of His great angels down to help me in my need." Meheru was indeed one of His great angels, sent to help us who were left after Baba and the rest of the Mandali left us. She kept alive the intimate atmosphere of His home by holding groups entranced with her stories of her life with Baba, every pilgrim day (health permitting) on the porch. Her attention to detail (learned by her service to her aunt Mehera) ensured that Meherazad remained His home and welcomed His lovers year after year. This year, after the pilgrim season ended, she participated in the spring cleaning and got so tired she was ill. But that didn't stop her, she was back at it as soon as possible.
There are many lovely memories of times with Meheru. The best of the recent ones was when my son Sheriar came to visit and stayed at Meherazad for 4 days. He visited her on the porch in the evenings and she would ask him about his life, his new teaching job, what he enjoyed and what he didn't...She remembered the child and now she was getting to know the adult, and both enjoyed the interaction thoroughly. There are so many times she would drop in to visit with Manu and they would spend sometimes ten minutes or sometimes even an hour just talking and encouraging Manu. She would always bring some treat - soup or something savoury or sweet - often made by herself. Manu visited her this morning, really early. First off she didn't want to go, then she went. Meheru was in a deep coma. Manu went up to her and kissed her and said to Meheru, "You go to Baba and then call me. I will come." The caregivers who witnessed this said that it was so poignant that they nearly broke down.
No one expected this. Meheru was so full of life only a week ago. I was away in Pune and Mumbai seeing Sheriar off, but everyone says that until she fell down after the stroke she was fine. I still can't believe she is gone. Baba knows, she has left a hole the size of a volcano crater in our lives. There was so much more she needed to see and be present for, I thought. But Baba's timing is perfect. He didn't let Meheru suffer too much. Three days of unconsciousness and a gentle cough and she was gone. As we prepared her for her final journey, the visit to Meherabad to Baba's Samadhi for the last time, we were actually able to laugh and say how this or that scarf would look, how the patched bed sheet in which she was wrapped was so Meheru (she patched everything) and how the trousers and top she was dressed in were ones she wore on her vacations to Kashid. She had been bathed that morning so she was beautifully fragrant. Still, she was wiped, rubbed with scented oil and her hair combed. Her feet and arms were bound and the sheet wrapped around then fastened at the neck with a beautiful Baba button. The prayers were recited and Avatar Meher Baba's Jai spoken loudly, with all our love and our missing. Then the servants in the kitchen and other housemaids who served her came to bow down. Tears coursed down their faces, they had lost someone who was like a mother to them. Forgotten were the scoldings, all they recalled was the love and the caring she showed whenever one of them needed it. Then, laid out on a strong bedspread from Paul Comar's collection she was put on the stretcher and lifted up and taken into Mehera and Mani's room first. From there we took her to Baba's room, and she exited the house for the final time from His bedroom door, feet first. Over to Mandali hall, she now lies before Baba's chair. She looks radiant, her face has relaxed into the most lovely smile, she looks so happy. Flowers from Meherazad garden were brought and put around her by those of us who were present. People started coming, from the village and from Ahmednagar and Meherabad. My sister Dolly was on her way to Meherazad and got the news while she was still in the bus. She picked up a beautiful garland of spider lilies and roses and this was placed around her face, framing it in a fragrant cloud of white and red. More flowers were put on her and she looks like she is sleeping, dreaming of her Beloved.
Manu came into Mandali hall for the first time in a very long while. She sat on her wheel chair and sang to Meheru. Satchitanand Parmanand was followed by the Meher Dhun and that was followed by Hari Parmatma Allah Ahurmazd God Yezdan Hu. Bhauji and Co. arrived and then sang the Adi Sachetan Arti. Dolly and I stayed until the hall started filling up and then we left, knowing we would see her tomorrow at Meherabad.
The schedule is as follows:
- 7.45 a.m. Meheru leaves Meherazad for Meherabad and is taken to Beloved Baba's Samadhi
- 8.30 a.m to 9.00 a.m. Meheru lies in the Tomb while prayers and arti are said, then down to Old Mandali Hall for people to pay their last respects
- 9.30 a.m. Meheru is taken from Old Mandali Hall to the platform where her pyre will be ready and waiting. She will be laid on the pyre and covered up. As with all the others who have gone before, there will be a chance to say a last goodbye and then the pyre will be lit, reducing our dearest Meheru's gross body to ashes. Her soul is already happy to have finally joined her Eternal Beloved, Avatar Meher Baba.
Our joy in your reunion with your Beloved is great. But forgive us our tears, they are selfish ones because we miss you so. Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai.