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

By PF Sloan

Story 9: Give Me A Brake

I caught up with Vince accidentally at a small juice stand in Puttaparthi. He told me this story; he swears is true.

"I had bought myself a small economical Hyundai to get around in, you know. The car worked well, the only problem was that it was constantly being burglarized for its radio, he told me. It was costing me $80 a pop to replace it, and it was getting to be too much. When it happened again, I cried out to Sai Baba, "What am I doing wrong?" That evening, I went out to my favorite little restaurant in Sydney. There was an old beggar sitting in the shadows wearing an orange shirt and torn pants. I walked out of his way to avoid any contact with the beggar, when he spoke to me. "Do you have a quarter, son", he asked? Vince decided to ignore him completely and continued walking. The beggar man asked again, "Have you a quarter?" Vince said for some reason he felt obliged to answer, and he replied, "Why, yes I have." Expecting the beggar to ask for it, he walked on. The beggar replied, " Well, then donít let me hear you complain anymore!" "I was too much in shock and couldnít believe what I had heard him respond", he told me. When I did recover a second or two later, I turned around to face the man, but he was nowhere to be seen.

"A few weeks later, I saw a picture of Shirdi Sai Baba, affectionately called the old man, and he appeared to be the man I saw that night", he said. "The old man returned in a dream I had, a while later", Vince said, drinking his mango lassi, smoking an Indian cigarette. He related to me what Sai Baba had told him.
Baba said, "All children are mine! The thieves pray to me for help to get something to feed their family and what am I to do? I must answer their prayer even though they must pay for the consequences of their bad actions. I tell you this, unless one gives to charity with a full and open heart, all your money will go to either thieves, doctors, lawyers or to taxes! So, do what you will, you have been told".
Vince decide that day to start giving a little to every request for charity that he got, and though it seemed like there are so many, he lovingly gave what he could. Coincidentally, the thieves stopped breaking into his car after that and he enjoyed relative safety.

On another evening, he was visited again in a dream by Shirdi Sai Baba. Baba said in the dream, "I am protecting you and not to worry, I will let you know when there is any danger with the car." "I had been worried about the brakes", Vince told me. "I know I needed new ones but I just couldnít afford them, you know? I was saving up as best I could, and hoping theyíd hold up. One day they started squeaking so badly I had to bring the car into a mechanic. Let me tell you", Vince smiled, "the mechanic came into the waiting room where I was sitting and looked ghastly. His face was pale and he was truly troubled! "Look here, mate, what kind of joke are you trying to pull then"? I hadnít a clue as to what he was upset about and tried to tell him so. When he calmed down some and realized this wasnít a gag, he took me into the garage and under my car and showed me my brakes, or rather lack of them. He stood there astonished and said, "Look, your car hasnít any brakes at all, I mean none! He said "How did you get here", thinking if it wasnít a joke, it came by tow truck, but I tried to tell him I honestly didnít know anything about it. I said Iíd been driving around for six months or so, even though I knew I needed a brake job! The mechanic seemed to start believing my story", Vince said. "When I told him I couldnít afford a complete brake job, he took up a collection and said, "Youíre not leaving here without new brakes", he said, "Itís on the house, son"!"