Died : 19 October 2005, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Nationality : American
Newspaper Reporter & Book Editor for Sheriar Press
How I Came to Baba
by Ann Conlon
(A talk given at the LA Sahavas, 1986)
I'm going to share with you this morning something I have always called my fairy tale. I first heard of Meher Baba in 1956. Right after Baba had been in the United States, I met two women in New York who had met Baba a few days before. One of them, Ginny Sadowski, came to work for the newspaper where I was working. She did her work at home, and it was part of one of my weekly runs, round my "beat", to stop at her house and pick up her work. So, of course, just having met Baba, she was full of it, and she would offer me a cup of coffee, and start telling me about Baba. She had a picture of Baba on the refrigerator door, it’s that picture of Baba wearing a garland — He’s three-quarter faced, and the eyes are very vibrant. I remember when I first saw the picture, I thought He had the kindest eyes I’d ever seen.
When Ginny first started talking about Baba, she was really careful; she knew I was a Catholic. (This was in the fifties, and she didn’t know what kind of reaction she was going to get.) She didn’t tell me who He was, she sort of beat around the bush. You know, with these long explanations like, "If you wanted to learn to be a master musician, you’d go to a master musician." So, somewhere in there, her younger sister, Liz Sacalis, started showing up for these coffee klatches. She did not have Ginny’s patience. One day, she just popped out and said, "He’s the Christ." I had had a sneaking suspicion that that’s what they were leading up to, but when Liz said the words, I accepted it immediately. It hit me so deep inside that I said, "That’s right, He is."
When I was a kid, I had always been very resentful that the Catholic Church told me that Christ only came once ― I thought it was a real gyp. You know, how come I didn’t live then? So I was primed to accept the fact that He had come again. Along with the acceptance of that fact did not come a strong desire to see Baba. I was content, knowing that He was in the world. So along came 1958, Baba was coming back to the United States, and Ginny and Liz asked if I wanted to come to Myrtle Beach with them. Baba said only those who loved Him and were willing to obey Him should come. This started something going on in my mind, and I realized that I didn’t know what love was ― whether I loved anybody, let alone Baba. I knew how Baba felt about obedience, and I thought if I couldn’t say I loved Him, I shouldn’t go. On one level that was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life; I didn’t go. But He made up for it later.
I’m not a person who remembers dreams, but the last day that Baba was in Myrtle Beach and I was home in New York, I suddenly woke up at about 4 o’clock in the morning, thought I was awake, and saw Baba standing at the foot of my bed. It scared the daylights out of me! He was wearing His blue coat, and He had one hand on His hip — and looking at me with His head cocked and smiling. The impression I had was that He was saying, "Well, are you coming or aren’t you?" I was so terrified, I jumped out of bed, heard my heels hit the floor and knew I was awake. I was so startled by the whole thing I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But the minute I realized that He was there and I was awake, then He was gone. So, I climbed back into bed and went to sleep; I was exhausted by those few seconds.
A couple of days later, Ginny and Liz came back from Myrtle Beach. I told them about this dream, and Liz, who was in such a stupor from having been with Baba, said, "Well, I'll go back down to Myrtle Beach with you if you want to go." Just to go for a visit, to be at the Center; Baba had already left. I said OK and she called Elizabeth Patterson and asked if she could bring me to the Center. It was at that time that Elizabeth had asked Baba who could stay at the Center, Baba had said, "Those who love and follow Me, those who know of Me and want to know more." The condition was at that time that if someone came who had not met Baba, either Kitty or Elizabeth had to stay on the Center at night when that person was there. (The house that's there now was not there then; they lived in town.) So, when we arrived, it was Kitty who came out every night and stayed in the Lake Cabin while I was there. There was nobody else on the Center except Liz and me and Kitty and Frank Eaton. I had Kitty to myself every evening ― didn't appreciate that probably until years later. How lucky I was!
At one point, I was sitting in the Lagoon Cabin in front of Baba's chair and suddenly I felt a wave of love come from Baba to me, go through me, go around and back to Baba and close up. There was no question then of who loved and who was loved. There was only a circle of love; it was all one thing. In that moment I realized that I could say that I loved Him, because He had given me the gift of His love and that's what I gave back to Him. Of course, at that point, my desire to see Him started. What wonderful timing! He was back in India, He was in seclusion, you couldn't even write. People were saying it was going to be a long time before He came again or before they'd go there.
So then started the wait. It got so bad that I got terribly jealous of everybody who had met Baba. I used to get up and walk out of the room when they were talking about being with Baba. I remember Beryl Williams not being sympathetic at all; she laughed like crazy, because she thought it was great — Baba was drawing me. But Beryl and Kitty were so kind. They could write to Baba at that time (they had permission), and both of them would always put a little line in — either writing to Him or to Mani or to Mehera — saying how much I wanted to meet Baba. And every once in a while, Baba would send back a letter to them, saying, "Baba knows how much Ann wants to see Me," sending His love. That would keep me going for a little while longer.
Baba was not well in those years and when it came to 1960 or 1961, people started saying, "Maybe we won't see Him again." But Kitty was always very positive about it and said we would.
In 1961, I was at a New York Monday night group meeting and I was reading from the Discourses the part that says: "When the disciple is ready, the Master comes." And I thought to myself, "Well, that takes care of you — you aren't and He isn't." But I felt that Baba had given me so much love, that meeting Him would be the icing on the cake. I already had so much. I shouldn’t expect it and I gave it up. I felt that I wasn’t going to meet Him, but I just felt so lucky.
By the very next Monday night, a family letter had arrived from Mani. Fred Winterfeldt came in carrying the letter. (Fred had a marvelous poker face, and he never gave away anything. He should've been jumping up and down.) He stood up there, absolutely sober-faced and started to read this letter. Somewhere on page three, it said, "Baba had decided, because of the longing of His lovers, to open the door a crack in His seclusion. His lovers may come for one hour on any one day over a two week period then go right home." I was stunned. I mean, my immediate feeling was, "This is my chance, this is my only chance." It had never occurred to Mani, she said later, that anyone would come from the West; the time was too short. When we got the letter there were only 9 days left out of that two week period that He had set aside.
I had never been out of the United States, I had no passport, and I didn’t have a dime. Liz was at that meeting with me. (Liz would have run over anybody to get to Baba and she did. She had a hard time with her parents) She told me later that at that moment she had no feeling about going, but if she turned and looked at me and I looked like I wanted to go, she was going to give me the money. So she turned to me and looked, and obviously I wanted to go! The strangest part of that evening was that nobody else in that room, except Fred, had that feeling to get up and go. And I remember John Bass saying, "Well this isn't for us, it's just for Easterners." Well, Liz turned and she asked me, "If I give you the money, will you take it? It's a gift and will you go?" And I said yes, because I knew that there were no strings attached to it, that it was a gift that she was giving out of her love for me. She checked it out with her sister and between the two of them they had enough money in the bank for one person to go. So, actually what happened was that they both gave up their chance to go so that I could. Ginny said that there was no way that she could go on to India and leave me behind after all those years of telling me about Baba.
The next morning, Tuesday, I went into work and I thought, "I'm going to have to quit my job in order to do this." I was very gung-ho on my career; I was having a great time, it was just starting, and I was doing very well. But I thought, "If they don't let me go, I'm just going." So, I walked up to my editor, who had a wild temper - he had fired somebody the week before for going off to Florida on a 24 hour notice. I walked up to him and I said, "Vic, I have a chance to go to India for the weekend." He stood up (I was waiting for the blast) and he said, "Well, of course, you have to go." And I said “In that case, I'll need somebody to work for me Thursday and Friday; I'll be back here Monday." (I had called Air India on Tuesday and asked about flights: they had a flight leaving for Bombay on Thursday night that would get me into Bombay Saturday morning; I would somehow get to Poona — wherever that was; see Baba for the hour which He had set day from 4:30 to 5:30; get back to Bombay; get the 1 A.M. flight back to New York Sunday and back to work Monday.) Vic sort of caught the spirit of it. He turned to one of the other editors and said, "Harry, Ann has to go to India for the weekend, and we're gonna help her out. We need to rearrange the schedule." So I said, "You know, I don't have a passport or anything and I need a visa, so I'd like to take some time now to go take care of that."
I had never gotten a passport; I thought you walked in and you got it, like going to the store. One of the photographers took pictures for me and I went racing down to the county court house and filled out the passport papers. The pictures were wrong, but the man said, "Look you go across the street, get new pictures, It's getting late and I'm supposed to close, but I'll wait for you." I got the pictures, came back with all the papers and said, "Now, how long is this going to take?"
And he said, "Three weeks."
"But I'm leaving for India Thursday night."
He said, "Oh," and he put all the papers in an envelope, wrote a woman's name on it, and continued, "You go into Manhattan tomorrow; give these papers to this woman and no one else. Tell her I sent you and maybe she can help."
So the next morning, Ginny with Saks charge card, took me by the hand and we went into New York to the passport bureau. Now, this was the end of May, tourist season was just starting, and the place was jammed. But I found the woman sitting at her desk all alone having a cup of coffee, and there was nobody in front of her. I walked up and I gave her the papers. I didn't say anything; I let her look at them. She said, "Alright, come back in two hours, I'll have your passport ready for you."
I said, "Well, I have to go and get a visa, so what time does the Indian Consulate close?"
She answered, "They close early; you'd better come back here in an hour in order to make it." At that point Ginny and I began to suspect that nobody was going to say no.
We went over to Air India to get the tickets, and what they had done was this: They had booked me out of the United States on Thursday, May 26, 1961 and back on May 28, 1962, because, as the agent said, "Who goes to India for the weekend?" When we finally got it straightened out and he understood what I wanted to do, he said, "Lady, I went to London for tea once and you make me look like a piker."
Since this obviously looked like it was going to work, I asked the Air India man where I could send a cable because Baba had said in His family letter that people should not come at a great distance or at great expense for so short a time since He might give another opportunity in His own way. I didn't believe a word of it; I'd been hearing this for years. The man told us where the telegraph office was and I went over there and sent a cable to Baba, trying to cover myself: "No distance too great, no price too high (it wasn't my money). I'm coming and I'll arrange my own transportation from Bombay." What I thought was that if it wasn't right that I was coming, that cable would give Baba time to stop me. He could get back to me, and even if I was en route, Ginny and Liz could somehow get in touch with me and say, "Baba says no, turn around and come home."
As I was standing there doing that, the Air India agent came running in the door, and he said it had occurred to him that I was going to India alone, that I didn't know anyone there, and that if I would come back to his office, he'd fix things up to make sure that I got to Poona OK. I told him I would come back a little bit later; I wanted to make sure about that passport and visa. We went back to the passport office. The woman had it ready right on time. Then we went tearing over to the Indian Consulate. I thought this might be where I'd have a little trouble, because Fred and Ella had warned me not to say why I was going. Baba was in seclusion; He wouldn’t want any publicity, and there were beginning to be some problems with young Americans going to India, running out of money and overstaying their visas. They had told me to be careful about what I said. So on the application where it says, "Why are you going to India?" I entered, “I am going to visit an old friend of my family’s who has been ill, and this might be my last chance to see him." All true. I handed her my papers and asked "How long is this going to take?"
"Three days." (It was already Wednesday.)
"But I'm leaving tomorrow night."
She looked over all my papers, saw the reason for the trip and said, "Well, we'll just have to help you, won't we? You come back tomorrow morning at ten o'clock and I'll have your visa."
Then we went back to the Air India office to meet with agent. He had arranged that someone would meet me in Bombay, put me on the train to Poona, and make sure that I got there OK.
I went home and packed for a 22 hour stay in India. The next day, Thursday morning, we went running back to pick up the visa and they had it. And that night, Ginny and Liz took me out to what was then Idlewild Airport and put me on the plane. The last I saw of them, they were on the observation deck. It was pouring rain. The two of them were hugging each and jumping up and down. They were more excited than I was. I was just going with whatever was happening. I had ceased to think.
Well, I got into Bombay, walked off that plane and was met by a customs officer and a young man from Air India. They shooed me through customs. The young man brought breakfast for me and gave me a quick lesson in Indian money. Then he took me out to the Dadar railroad station and found the station master. I sat in his office until the train came, he put me on the train, and he found someone who would tell me when we got to Poona and when to get off. When we pulled into Poona, the only thing I had to do was to get to the Napier Hotel. Mani had telegraphed Air India to tell me that as soon as I got to the Napier Hotel, I was to call Guruprasad. I got to the hotel and went up to the desk without identifying myself. I asked the manager for a telephone. He picked up the phone, dialed and handed it to me. There was Eruch on the other end saying that Baba had said that I was to stay at the hotel and rest until 3:30 when one of them would come for me, and, an hour before the daily darshan started, it was Meherjee who came and, of course, as a result, I have always dearly loved Meherjee. We're very close.
Well, we drove out to Guruprasad. Even if you have never seen it, you remember the pictures of the wide driveway that curved in front of the steps leading up to Guruprasad. From there, the entrance led across the verandah and into the main hall. I bent over to get out of the car. When I stood up in front of the steps, the door was open and there was Baba sitting at the back of the hall, 60 or 75 feet away from me. Now, in the years that I waited, I only wanted to see Baba's eyes. That's all I wanted. Just once. I was standing there and I looked at Him and all of a sudden, all I could see were His eyes. They got huge. They filled the room. They blotted out everything else. And I saw shafts of light coming from behind His eyes. I thought, "If He closes His eyes, I’ll drown in that light." Then everything was back to normal, and I brushed Meherjee aside and went running up the steps. When I stepped through the door, I felt again that same wave of love that I had felt in Myrtle Beach in the Lagoon Cabin, only so much stronger that I stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t move; my legs froze. Baba looked at me and He smiled. He put out His arms like this: "Come on!" I went running into His arms and burst into tears. And in that moment of feeling those arms around me, I knew for the first time in my life that I was completely safe and completely loved and completely accepted. There would never be another Being in the world from Whom I would get such total acceptance, such total love. And I realized that all my life I had felt that I had never had a home, that I lived out of a suitcase. I was the middle child in my family and I did not feel loved. I thought I had brought myself up. In that moment in Baba's arms, I realized that He had brought me up, that it had always been Him Who had taken care of me, and that He always would. There was absolutely no doubt about it. No matter what happened to me for the rest of my life, I was safe and He would be there.
When I stepped back from Baba, there were tears in His eyes. I don't know what it meant. He sat there and He looked at me and I stood there and looked at Him, and He just nodded. Then He said, "Do you have any questions?" I thought, Nope! I had only been there five minutes, and that was more than I thought I was ever going to get. I felt if there was anything that He wanted me to know, He would tell me; there was no necessity for asking Him any questions. Besides, I had known people who had asked Baba for advice and He had given it, and they had not followed it — and there was the trouble. So I wasn't going to risk it. It just wasn't necessary. If He knew everything there was to know about me, if I had a need to know anything, He'd tell me in His own good time.
Baba started calling the mandali. (The women mandali had been in Mehera's room which had a louvered door on it so they had watched my meeting with Baba.) He called them all out to meet me. Up to that point, I hadn't even noticed who else was in the room, but Eruch had been there acting as the interpreter and Goher had been standing behind Baba's chair. Baba didn't ask me how I had gotten there, He simply said, "Did you read the family letter?"
I thought, "He's going to throw me out of here." I didn't care; I had had more than I thought I'd ever get. I said, "Yes, Baba, I did read it."
"What did it say?"
"Well, You said that people shouldn't come a great distance or at great expense, because
You might give another opportunity."
"And you came anyway?"
"It's alright. I'm glad you came. Now, what are you going to do when you leave here?"
I didn't quite understand the question and I said, "I'm going back to work, I guess."
"No, I mean this afternoon."
"Well, Baba, I had intended to rush back to Bombay tonight and get a flight back to New York but Air India has informed me there is no flight. And there isn't another one for five days. So I guess I'll just sit in the hotel and wait."
"No, Baba, I know that."
Then He said, "You will not sit in the hotel for five days. You will come here and sit with Me every day for five days until the plane goes . . . Now, what will your office think?"
"Well, Baba, they couldn't understand why I was coming for such a short time and they did tell me if I wanted to stay longer, just to cable them."
Baba said, "You make sure you do that."
(The people in my office thought I was eloping with a Maharajah. I never told them.)
I have lost a lot of what happened in that initial hour, really. I think the conversation was along the lines of what Baba usually asked people, you know: Did you sleep well? Are you getting enough to eat? Do you feel alright? etc. My brain had gone into neutral, and all I could do was to sit there and look at Him. I was sitting at Baba's feet. When 4:30 finally came, He said, "Now, come closer to My feet, or you'll get crushed in this rush." Then they opened the doors and the mob came tearing in. On either side of the hall there were windows and there were people diving throough them. I saw one woman bearing down on me. She got to me, planted her hand on top of my head, used me for a pivot and swung over me so she could get around behind Baba and sit behind His chair. And there were kids who got lost in the crowd who were being passed over heads back to their parents. Baba loved it! He sat there and He slapped his knees . . . He enjoyed it immensely. (In later years, whenever I heard people talking about decorum, I thought of that scene.) Eventually everybody got sort of settled down. It was very informal, low-key gathering. Baba said He wasn’t going to give any discourses. The point was just to sit there in His company for that brief time. He was not coming out of seclusion, He was inviting us in.
While we were sitting there, He asked me if I knew why St. Francis loved Jesus more than Peter had. I said, "No, Baba." He said, "It was because Francis never met Jesus and therefore his love and his longing were that much greater." You know how it made me feel after the last five years of being jealous of all those people, right? What a sweet thing to say!
There were people there who were singing and putting on skits, and there was a young woman from Bombay who was going to sing Baba a song about Mira. Baba asked me if I knew who Mira was. I didn't (Baba frequently talked about Mira to people, telling different parts of her story.) This was the only serious time in the whole five days that I was there. He looked at me and He said, "Mira was a princess; she gave up everything. She gave up a throne, her whole life, all her money to spend her life wandering and telling people about her Lord Krishna. She never put anyone or anything between herself and Krishna." I got the point: "I am your Krishna; be careful about this."
Then He asked me if I'd read any of His books. I said yes, I had read Avatar, God to Man and Man to God, and somebody had found me a copy of the original Discourses. Then He said, "Have you read God Speaks?
I had to be honest about it so I said, "I tried it and got to page 64, but I didn't understand a word."
He laughed, "Never mind, it's not important. Don't bother."
You know in the back, at the conclusion of the book where it says it was written to satisfy the convulsions of man’s mind? Mine wasn’t working, let alone convulsing! Anyway, He let me off the hook. I could not get through that book then and I have never been able to.
The afternoon went on — that hour of Baba's went on for something like 6 hours. I think it was 10 o'clock at night before everybody left. Baba's vitality when you were with Him was so draining. I went back to the hotel and fell onto the bed without dinner. I didn't wake up until late the next morning to hear someone calling my name from downstairs, and there was Fred Winterfeldt. I knew Fred was coming, but there was some small problem with his passport and visa, so he couldn't come when I did. He had said to me, "It's too bad we can't go together." And I had replied, "Fred, I'm not waiting for anybody, this one's mine!" But when he came, we grabbed each other on the balcony of the hotel and went dancing around there. He was so happy for me that I met Baba!
Fred went to see Baba alone that afternoon. Baba had not asked me how I had got to India. He asked Fred. Fred told Him the whole story about Ginny and Liz giving up their chance by giving me the money. Fred told me later that Baba had tears in His eyes. Baba said, "Baba is touched by such love for Baba and for a friend." And then He said to Fred, "Fred, I love Ann very much." Fred came back to the hotel beaming. He planted his feet and he said, "Baba says He loves you very much." You can imagine what that did to me! The urge to turn cartwheels.
That afternoon, when there was the day's darshan, Fred and I went in a few minutes early to see Baba and Baba said to me, "Fred told me how you got here . . . all the help you had. All helped you because I helped you and I wanted you to come." Then He said that He had sent a cable to Ginny and Liz. He had Eruch give me a copy of it: "Baba says, because you have helped me come to Baba, you have made Baba come closer to you. Baba sends His love to you both." He signed my name to it. And He said, "Do you think they'll like it?" The thing was that I had tried that morning to word a cable to them, and it was beyond me. I didn't have words for it. So, Baba had done it for me.
That afternoon there were more people jammed into the hall and there were two of us sitting in there. Baba had chairs brought for us. Before, when I was sitting on the floor and He had seen that I was obviously uncomfortable, He had said, "You're not born to this; we are. There's no reason for you to be uncomfortable." So, He had chairs put up against the side wall, and Rano Gayley came out to sit with us. If Eruch were using another language, Marathi or Gujarati, she would translate Baba's gestures into English. At one time, Liz had told me that the only important thing to remember when you were with Baba was never take your eyes off Him. Don't be distracted by anyone else, she had cautioned, because that's the moment He'll turn and look at you, and you'll miss it. It had happened to her. So, I was sitting there looking at Baba's profile, and every once in a while — He's so quick! — He would whip around and look at me and ask, "Are you happy?" Over and over, "Are you happy?" Of course, I was ecstatic! I was just sitting there staring at Him and Rano would give me the elbow in the ribs, "Answer Him!"
On the second day, Fred and I were sitting against the wall, and in the middle of this darshan program, I heard Arnavaz Dadachanji from the back of the room say, "Harry!" There was Harry Kenmore, who had come unannounced, had simply gotten in the darshan line and was proceeding through the hall.
Baba said, "Harry, what are you doing here?"
"I have come to see my dear Pop."
And Baba said, "Your Pop is very happy to see His dear son."
Then there were three of us sitting against the wall. At this point, the Indians were becoming very curious about these Westerners sitting there, so Baba decided to introduce us. He said, "This is Harry Kenmore from New York and Fred Winterfeldt from New York, and Ann Conlon from the United States," (although I was from New York, too). Then He said, "She is a blessed woman, otherwise, why would she have come when she had never seen Me? Her love brought her and that love is My gift to her." Baba confirmed what I felt in the Lagoon Cabin years before: Any love I had was His gift. The whole week was like that — Baba confirming these little things for me. I spent that week just staring at Him; I was totally focused on Him.
One morning, I got into a very heavy fight with Harry Kenmore in the dining room of the Napier Hotel. Harry was yelling at me for getting up early and not calling him for breakfast. We had this fight with poor Fred sitting looking very embarrassed. Later in the day when we all went to see Baba we got out of Meherjee's car in such a position that Harry, who was blind, reached for somebody's arm and he got mine. So we walked into Baba together. Baba looked at Harry, who couldn't see this and He looked at me and He laughed. Here we had had this knock-down, drag-out fight and had come to Baba arm-in-arm.
Wherever Baba was, He would always meet with the men mandali in the mornings. There was a Mandali Hall in Guruprasad. Any male guests who would come would attend these meetings. When Fred and Harry were there, Baba had Arnavaz take me around Poona to meet Eruch's family and meet the Baba lovers who were living there, or who were visiting. But when that last day came, Baba sent word that I was to come to Guruprasad with Fred and Harry.
I went in to Mandali Hall and Baba said, "Now, there are no women allowed at these meetings. You're not supposed to be here, but you stay for five minutes, and then you go to Mehera and Mani." So I sat down and Harry started telling jokes to Baba. Baba stopped him and asked, "Do you think you ought to tell that joke? Ann is here." It was one of Harry’s innocuous jokes and he said, "It's alright, Baba, she's over 25." A few minutes went by and Baba turned to me and said, "Now, you really have to go, you're not supposed to be here." So I got up and started out the door, and He said, "You can come back for another five minutes." So I went back and I sat down for another five minutes. A little while later, He said, "Now, you really have to go." I got up and I started out. He stopped me again — there was a real twinkle in His eye — and He said, "When I come back in 700 years, you make sure you come back as a man so you can attend these exclusive meetings." He was laughing, everybody in the room was laughing, and I laughed. I went through the door and it suddenly occurred to me, "I don't know how Baba works. I don't know if He's kidding or not." Later in the day, I found Francis Brabazon and I asked, "Francis, was Baba joking? And if He wasn't, how do I make sure about that?"
He said, "Baba will often tell you something in a light manner; what He has done is to make you a promise. All you have to do is remember that." And I do.
Then I went to Mehera's room — there must have been 20 women there — and Mehera told me that they had a sari they wanted me to try on. It was a pale lavender sari with little golden flecks in it. They all got involved in dressing me up, and Goher kept saying to me, "Put your hands together and say 'Namaste, Baba."' She made me repeat it over and over and over again. We got the sari on and all of a sudden we all left Mehera's room and were trouping across that main hall. Goher opened another door, shoved me in the back and slammed the door behind me. I was back in Mandali Hall with Baba and the men mandali, Fred and Harry, and 75 men who'd just arrived from Hamipur. It was the first time I'd ever worn a sari and all I could think about was that it was not going to stay on! I looked at Baba and remembered what Goher had said, and I said, "Namaste, Baba." And He gave me a sign: "Beautiful." He called me over, gave me an embrace, and said, "Now you go back to the women." What nobody else knew that, this being the last day, I wanted to get dressed up for Baba. I was head over heels in love, it was my natural human reaction. But I had come to India with only one change of clothes, not planning to be there long, and I had nothing to get dressed up in. So, He provided. He's the Avatar and the Perfect, Perfect Master, and also the perfect Host. Every dumb little human whim that I had He responded to.
When I got back to Mehera, she said that the sari was hers, and that Baba had said that she could give it to me as a gift from her and Baba. Of course, after that, I felt I wanted to give something to Mehera, but one of the stipulations of that darshan was that no one was to bring gifts for the mandali, so I wouldn't even ask. That night, Goher came to my room at the hotel and said, "Baba would like you to get some things for Mehera in the West."
I said, "I'd be glad to do it. How do you think Baba would feel if I paid for it?"
She smiled that wonderful smile and said, "Baba said you wouldn't take the money."
When that last day finally came, it coincided with the end of that darshan. Baba had told us that He wanted all of us to go back on the same flight, so there was a lot of flight changing. We'd come on different airlines, but He said, "You must go back on the same flight."
On the last morning, Baba sent word to everybody, even though they'd had their hour, that if they were still in Poona, they must come that afternoon for darshan. There were thousands of people who had stayed in Poona on the chance that's exactly what He'd do, invite them back again. So, that afternoon, when we went out, there were 5,000 people waiting to have darshan and to receive prasad. Baba had said that people were to come and get the prasad and leave immediately. So, when I went up to get it, I did that. I took it from His hand and I turned around and started to walk out the door. I felt a hand on the back of my neck. It was Rano. She said, "He didn't mean you, go back and sit down." Rano and I became very close; that's why I ended up working on her book. She was wonderful. She was a grounding influence. I mean, I was so spaced out that time; she kept me from walking off the edge.