True Short Stories from India (A search for the purpose of Life)

By PF Sloan

Story 3: Taxi to Infinity


Iíd been at the mercy of the summer heat and the mosquitoes for six weeks now. And though I felt my spirit had become charged with energy my body felt on the edge of collapse! I had all but run out of money for my 3rd trip over to India to see Sai Baba, and I wanted to go home to L.A.
Itís not that living at the ashram was expensive; it was practically free. A room cost pennies a day as well as the fresh cooked vegetables and rice. But getting up every morning at 3:00 a.m. for prayers, and waiting for hours in line in the hot sun to get into the Darshan grounds to see Baba had worn me down. I needed a hot bath and maybe a cold beer.
I decided to leave the next morning.

I checked into a moderate price hotel and I ordered from room service a hot meal with a cold beer. After staying in the hot shower for twenty minutes my body began to respond to my commands again. I had just enough money for this night and for the taxi fare to the airport and I sat on the balcony terrace looking up at the stars and feeling great. When suddenly I was hit with a sadness! It hit me like a shockwave!
I felt I needed to see Sai Baba at the ashram one more time before leaving. My body quivered at the thought of going back to the Ashram, and my mind rebelled! But I couldnít fight the feeling.
Thinking maybe I had hidden some rupees in my valise when I wasnít aware of what I was doing, I frantically tore thru my bag looking for something that wasnít there. I mean I must have looked thru it a dozen times. Each time I looked I swear I believed Iíd find some. I lay down on the bed exhausted, unable to grasp the feeling that had come over me! I turned off my mind and the lights and fell asleep.
When I awoke in the morning, I decided "Hey, letís look thru the luggage again!" I laughed at myself in disbelief as I watched myself searching thru the same clothes, corners and crevices of the suitcase. Then, "Oh", I said.
I found a bundle of 20 rupee notes!!! There were a lot of them!
I was too excited to count. I looked at the time and found that I could get to Darshan with time to spare as I ran out the door of my room, flew down the cold marble steps to the lobby and jumped into the first cab, saying take me to Brindivan.
(Brindivan is the name of Babaís Ashram in Whitefield, about 15 minutes away by taxi cab.) The cab driver said "Yes, okay", and he took off down the noisy streets, making lefts and rights and lefts and then we were on this long straight road I hadnít ever seen before. There were fields of tall golden stalks on the left and right. I scrunched my lips and thought, I really never noticed this stuff before. "Brindavan", I said, "Weíre going to Brindavan, right?" "Yes, okay", he said.

Further along the road the fields of golden stalks were getting thicker and thicker. I thought you know this guy doesnít speak English! "The sun is lemon jello", I said, "Right?" He says, "Yes, okay! Your mother wears army boots, right?"
Yes, okay. Now, after a good 40 minutes on the road the driver suddenly veers off to the shoulder and falls asleep at the wheel!Ö. You know, what are you going to do? This guy doesnít speak English. And what am I going to say to him if I wake him up?
I sat in the back seat looking out the window at a clear blue sky surrounded by golden stalks on the ground, and thought "God, is this was where I was supposed to be?!"
Twenty minutes mustíve gone by, I donít know. I had shut my eyes and was napping, when I saw someone approaching the cab from the fields.
I rolled down the window and a man in his early thirties dressed in white shirt and pants asks me, "Are you going to Brindavan by any chance? I said, "Yes, I had hoped to". At this moment the taxi driver woke up and yawning, looks at the man getting into his cab and gets angry. The man entering the cab talks to him in a rapid-fire tongue and the driver turns the motor on and pulls away like a cowboy in a gallop. Now itís 60 minutes past the time of Darshan and I figure well, we missed it. The man in the front seat begins to tell me his story.

He tells me last night his wife took ill. Very ill! He did everything he could for her to make her comfortable and she was at last able to get some sleep. Sai Baba came to him that evening in a dream and said "I know your wife is ill, and you canít afford a doctor. I will send a car for you and you come to see me at the Ashram. I will give you some holy ash that will heal her!"
As our cab arrived at the Ashram gates we were told that Baba had delayed Darshan that morning, and lo, look he was just coming out now.
The man takes off toward Baba, and mind you there are around 2,000 people sitting there in front of him waiting.
Baba walks directly to the man and puts a packet in his hand and says something to him. Pats him on the back. He gets back into the cab, as I pay the taxi driver off. They take off like an eagle!
Baba walked back into the Darshan area but since it was so crowded, I couldnít really get in. But as he had walked towards the man, I had mentally said to him, "Thank you for the wonderful time I had by Your Grace, and with your permission I wish to return home".
Baba didnít acknowledge my mental words to Him as He sometimes will. But I knew He had felt my love and I had felt His one more time.
I caught a cab back to the hotel and flew back to California.