Beckoned to India in 1974 during Amartithi, it was on Meherabad Hill at the Samadhi of the Avatar I met Mani. I felt so shy meeting God's little sister. Then in her deep black eyes I felt the Power of His Love and my shyness vanished. It was her eyes' twinkle that captured me! Mani was a most vibrant, wise, larger-than-life soul. To now be speaking in the past tense when I think of her feels tilted, out of kilter. I know Mani is with Baba and Mehera, and it gives comfort but does not completely dispel the pain that seeps into my heart. This feeling of loss is the second great shock of my life; I still mourn loosing Mehera, albeit to the Beloved, and ever since I see the world as so unsettled. Nothing's the same after Baba stole her away. Now Mani has been whisked away, too. In 1989 Mani told me that
when my heart feels a great loss to fill up the aching with fond memories but most of all embrace Baba. Her advice rings doubly true today.
When I feel Mehera at my side it is through a way of reflection I watched happen at Meherazad
while listening to her share stories of her Beloved Baba. I would study Mehera as she closed her eyes and retreated from the world to Him. Lost in this intimacy with Him, she spoke of Divine Love and conferred His Sacrament. I felt surrounded by Him as she
opened her eyes. His Presence was palpable. Mehera's memory and recollection seemed to be a form of Divinely inspired Art. Will I perfect this art of remembering? I don't know. I feel challenged as I now try to recount
Mani's friendship. I am learning this craft anew trying to rekindle sweet memories of the past. Missing Mani makes me miss Mehera even more. Doubting the mastery of this art of recollection, not measuring up to this task, is a bit scary.
I miss Mani and am sad.
I seem to falter in my footsteps. She gave so much strength and comfort to her family and friends. She gently reminded us this giving came through Him. But trying to combine emotions of despair with joy, a sense of being deprived of her company and mingling it with knowledge you experienced a treasure, seems so elusive. I do miss Mani's twinkle, yet am charmed by a blending of the twinkles in the eyes of
Mehera, Mani and Beloved Baba. It is all merged in a sparkling merriment that illuminates His entire Creation.
When Baba came for Mehera I remember Mani telling me to feel the pain and sorrow that was so crushing knowing that Baba is the source, and in Him I would not only find solace but the strength of my conviction in Saba's promise of love and compassion. Mani's counsel (seven years and two months ago) gives guidance in mourning her loss today.
From the moment I met Mani over twenty two years ago I was enthralled about her life as a child. After all, she was the little sister of God! While living in India, I was given to flights of fancy about such an amazing childhood as hers. What was it like having a God-Brother? I soaked up her stories and later, when all was quiet, I imagined I was Saba's little sister. My musings provided a feast for a hungry heart and sometimes I felt a glimmer of the exquisite pain of longing for God's presence. It was magical.
I remember Mani telling me Saba made her wait fourteen long years to join Him permanently. I thought it very naughty of Him. I wondered how this precocious child experienced those fourteen long childhood years and my wanderings always brought me closer to Him. They deepened my conviction of the power of trusting in Saba's perfect plan for me. I believe Mani had been exquisitely crafted as a young child and was tempered at fourteen, awaiting the fine tuning that only a Master can bring to His instrument.
Mani told of being a young child and hearing Saba call her name and the beauty of His voice in song. She told of the richness of His laughter and the thrill of hearing Him summons calling her to His Lap. She talked of His warm and loving embrace. Mani was a visage of His Darshan, and I admit that on more than one occasion I imagined it was Saba embracing me and not really Mani's arms I was enveloped in. Oh the delusions of grandeur and exquisite joy Mani's stories conjured in my mind. They brought resounding joy to the child living in my heart. And the adult in me began to relax for the first time in memory.
In 1925 Mani was barely seven years old when Saba was bound to silence. I never asked Mani what it was like to hear Him in His Silence. I was afraid to venture into that deafening world. Of course, my silence was foolish! I didn't want anything to change the experience I imagined of having a God-Brother. I now realize my flights of fancy weren't so temerarious after all. They are His personal gift to me. It was Mani's delightful childhood stories that provided a bridge to a path of joy for a little girl. I told Mani how in my own childhood daydreams I created a house where only women lived. I saw it as the perfect abode for Jesus to reside. This house was brimming with love. I recounted how I curled up with Jesus holding me in His Lap, rocking me back and forth, held snugly in His arms.
To me Mani was the embodiment of spiritual strength; bold in her love for Baba, totally dedicating her life to His Service. I especially loved the stories of the early days at Meherabad, the birthday celebrations of the
1930's, and the New Life. She was a scream (and a hoot and a howl, I might add) as she portrayed the plays that she and others performed for Saba's enjoyment. She mesmerized me with tales of life with Baba, and after an especially theatrical performance we'd laugh so hard the tears came tumbling down, screaming with glee!
What joy Mani took in retelling of her life with God. She could recall every movie Baba took her to, who starred in them, reenact every scene. In the end she would good naturedly complain about the times she never saw the ending because Baba would usher everyone out during the middle. I
was a captive audience! The tapestry of her life was rich, woven with golden threads by the Master Weaver on His loom.
One day Mani revealed a thought seemingly as quickly as it came into her mind. She thought so many of the younger ones coming to Baba must have certainly been with Him previously. She went on to tell of the impact these lovers had not only her but so many of the mandala; these lovers so poignantly displayed a belief in His Godliness and the potency of Divine Love. She said how hungry we seemed to hear about the daily life of Baba, His earthly journey, the experiences of those who lived so closely with Him. She felt as if He, through us, was demonstrating the extraordinary power of His Godhood and our curiosity gave her memories a deeper meaning. I believe all the stories that have been recorded for us give our own personal relationship with Him unparralled richness.
In 1989, during the time immediately after Mehera's passing, I watched in awe of this regal and steadfast soul, Mani. How she suffered. She cried tears from a well that knew no depth. At times her chest heaved as bellows working long into the night over yellow-red embers. I remember feeling somewhat unclean before this outpouring of such pure grief. It was like witnessing sanskaras of sorrow and despair unwinding from around her, dropping impotent to the ground to rest at her feet. Truly ignorant of the depth or reality of her feelings, I sensed it to be the grief Baba says i!£ inescapable and must be felt by all who know the joy of life. Witnessing this
expression, Baba gave me permission to delve into my own souls' darkness so the embers I had kept burning turned into a raging fire of conviction and trust in Him. It was the first step I consciously took toward what Arnavaz explained as "poise in His Love".
After Baba reclaimed Mehera to His embrace, I heard grief and the expressions of despair. I quietly witnessed a most noble transformation, shared with Baba in such a private way by Mani. I watched her sit out at her desk on the verandah writing to the world about the passing of her lifelong friend, her roommate of over sixty years. As I brought her coffee and rubbed her aching shoulders, she let go and once again was experiencing this great loss. She was like a delicate child, her questions so innocent, she so grounded in Him. Later, I'd see her staring off in the distance, an overpowering peace in her eyes as she rested her chin in her hand. Other times she seemed absorbed in a photo of the Beloved and His dearly Beloved Mehera. I did not trespass during these moment. When I approached again she would stand, as if on cue, and I would embrace her. Tears escaped from the depth of that part of her being that had held the
devastation she must have felt when Baba took His last breath. It was then I remembered Saba's order to Mani to stay strong for Mehera when He left His body. I sensed Mehera's passing had opened up the floodgates to the outpouring of her sorrow.
Mani's tears felt to me to be the balance of the laughter she created with her stories, the dramatic retelling, and the wit that seemed to explode from her so easily. How magnificent her smile! Her black eyes were the bottomless well to His Source. She was brave, strong, compassionate, gentle and witty. She exulted over suffering and pain. Mani had the blessed quality of the innocence of a child, the wisdom born from His Whim. In Mani
I saw the making of a giant in this game of illusion that sustains reality. And I was grateful and took comfort in the simple elegance of God's little sister.
Daily I strive to remind myself Mani is ever present in Saba's Love. To me Mani is that delicate balance of mind and heart, strength and compassion that I strive for. She loved to play pranks and tell jokes. She fancied her collection of frogs brought to her by God's lovers. She was at ease in retelling her life with Baba; equally so in scolding some of us for not thinking, commanding "...you should put on your thinking cap!" She had no interest in past lives or concern for future ones because she was with Baba in the present. She claimed Him as her life force. A more loving friend or family member would be hard to find for she brought so much joy and lightness into the lives she touched and will continue to touch. She still shares unselfishly the brilliance of her love for her God-Brother and will never lose the twinkle in her eyes! She couldn't if she tried for it was Saba's.
Have a good look in the mirror and see Mani's joy at being reunited with Mehera a_nd Baba. Look closely. See that twinkle...it's hers...yours...all of ours. It's Meher Baba twinkling through you. Be steadfast in this reflection, peek at it often, over and over. Then tuck this magnificent mirror in a pocket of your heart and soul. Keep it handy and polished to honor the reflection of His Nazar!
AVATAR MEHER BABA Kl JAI!
You are named Ezad
The Only One Worthy of Worship
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