Every Thursday I used to attend Sai baba’s aarati of 6 pm & 8:45 pm when I was doing Engineering. As soon as I graduated from Engineering I got a very good job in a renowned organization. Once I started working I could no longer attend 6 pm aarati at Sai Baba temple because of long travel time from office to my PG accommodation. So, I used to attend only 8.45 pm aarati.
Three months into my job, on a Thursday evening at 5:45 pm our manager asked the team to stay back after 6 pm for an important project meeting at 6:30 pm. The meeting started late at 6:45 pm & was going to continue till 8:45 pm. Around 8 pm I grew restless thinking about missing the aarati at 8:45 pm. I started lamenting the fact that when I was studying I never missed any of the evening and night aaratis of Sai Baba. (Since the temple was just 5 minutes walking distance from my PG.) But now the office is so far & I need to commute every day at least 1 hour in traffic and sometimes even 1.5 hours just to reach home and for the first time, I will be missing the aarati on Thursday. I was distracted by the thought of missing aarati; however, I decided to turn my focus back to the ongoing meeting.
As soon as the meeting got over I rushed out of the office to catch a bus. There was a power cut with no electricity on the streets and it was pretty dark. I started walking as fast as I could. The bust stop is at a distance of about 20 minutes by walk. On that day, I walked so fast that I was about to reach the bus stop in 10 minutes.
Out of blue, I found an old lady of about 80-85 years wearing an old-fashioned pink coloured sari stopped me and started talking to me. She had a bent posture with two bags on both her hands along with a walking stick in one hand. The bags looked heavy and she seemed to be burdened by that.
She requested me in Kannada, “Could you please help me to hold these luggage bags and come to Church. My home is near the Church & someone from my home will pick me up from the Church.” She was unable to talk properly as her body was shaking by exhaustion. As soon as she requested me, I felt like – Oh no, I am already late and if I don’t catch the next bus I will be waiting in darkness and will reach home very-very late into the night. I was in dilemma looking at the old lady and I feared I will be laden with guilt if I don’t help her now. If I help this lady I will be delayed by at least 30-40 minutes and it was already past 9 pm. She was asking me for help with hope in her eyes and I did not want to disappoint her, as she was old like a grandma.
Reluctantly, I took her bags from her hands & started walking. She was walking very slowly. I was helpless. She was saying something in Kannada to me which I did not pay much attention to while walking. After about 25 minutes, finally, we were about to reach the Church. I was thinking I had never seen any house near this Church and wondered where her house was. There was nobody in sight near the Church and so I asked her in broken Kannada, “Nobody came to pick you Ajji. Shall I come till your home?”
She suddenly stopped before the Church. Her eyes were shining with affection and gratitude. Looking at me she said in fluent English, “Thank you, my child, for help. There is no doubt that your parents had done lots of punya karma (good deeds) in their past birth, that’s why in this birth you have born as their daughter. God bless you. I am so much happy today. Now listen to what I am saying, after exactly 5 minutes your bus will arrive at the stop. If you run fast now towards the bus stop, you will make it to the stop in time and be able to catch the bus. So, without any delay go now. Don’t worry about me, I will wait here. Someone will be surely coming to pick me up from my home & my home is nearby.”
I was surprised that the Grandma who was unable to walk and talk properly a few minutes back was now was talking fluently in English and with no sign of tiredness. She also easily took from my hand her heavy bags. I was just speechless. While I was looking at her with bewildered eyes; she again said to me loudly, “Listen to me, go now, run fast & catch the bus.”
Hearing this I dashed towards the bus-stop and was able to reach in 5 minutes. As soon as I reached the bus stop I got the bus en route to my home. I boarded the bus & found a seat. I was perplexed about the experience. An old, tired & illiterate lady transforming into an energetic, loud and vocal person speaking in English was a hair-raising experience for me. I could not stop thinking about the great ease with which she took over the heavy bags from me. While thinking I felt Goosebumps all over and started to shiver a bit. I could not forget her shining eyes in the darkness. Also, I never told her that I intended to catch a bus; then how come she knew about that and why did she loudly ask me to run and catch the bus. How could she predict that the bus would be available in 5 minutes? I had so many questions without any answers.
Later, I realized that during the office meeting I remembered Sai Baba wholeheartedly & apologized for not attending the aarati. Was it Sainath? Thinking about this, tears welled up in my eyes. Only omniscient Baba knows what is in our hearts. And I felt very bad that I failed to recognize my Sai Baba. If I could have recognized Baba, I would have surely touched my Baba’s feet and offered my pranams to him. I safely reached my home at around 11 pm with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was happy that Baba came to offer me solace; on the other hand, I regretted not recognizing Baba when he indeed appeared in front of me. Om Sai Ram.
Anonymous: From a reader of the website https://saisaburi.org . The name withheld based on the request.