Banished … chapter 13

Banished

…. but still his legs didn’t work.

“I’d like to be able to take you with me where I go…” he said. “when you and the rest of the world are asleep. If I were a proper sadhu, I would have died at the Kumbh. It was the right moment but Madhu Giri agreed to take my place. Before discarding this body, I wanted to have some fun so I left my body in your very capable hands and became a tourist. I flew to all the tirths, all the sacred places—to Kashmir, Kerala, Bengal, Dwarka Ji—everywhere I had visited before and more. I had never seen Golden Lanka, for example,” he said. “I sacrificed my legs to grow wings!

“The other patients in the hospital also flew around at night but rarely left the ward. They bounced off the walls, looking for the way out but they couldn’t find it and so they died. Because I have sinned, now I too must relinquish this body,” he said. “I have no use for it anymore.”

It upset me to hear him talk like this. “You’ve never sinned in your entire life, Baba Ji!” I argued, associating this word sin with Christianity and redemption.

“What do you know, child?” he asked. “What do you know of sin? You are much too young. It’s the sounds one makes during his life. The actions that follow are only remnants of those sounds, pieces that fall off, like chopped-off hands, but once those sounds are articulated, once they leave the lips, they never return but become an inseparable part of a harmony or a dissonance that is the world. Sin is mispronunciation.”

“But you will get stronger, and get the use of your legs back. Together we’ll visit all the pilgrimage places on foot. We’ll explore the universe, make secret formulations of rare herbs, chart the heavens and build ashrams! There is so much you still have to teach me, and I’ll be the perfect disciple,” I said.

No, that won’t be possible. Time’s up. The whistle has blown.

“I want you to leave me tomorrow morning,” he said. “Shhh-sh! I am going to die, and I don’t want you to be here when it happens so you must go. It is important that you remember me as I am now.”

The room spun and I felt nauseous. He couldn’t be serious but he was. It was final.

I shook my head again and again. “What do you mean?” I asked him, but he didn’t answer. “If you’re going to die, Guru Ji, I’ll stay and take care of you.”

“You’ve completed your seva, your selfless service, now go, move on. You have more important things to do now,” he said without any emotion.

“But I don’t want to leave you!” I protested.

“This is the last ajna, command, that I’ll give you. I think you should obey it. And besides, don’t worry, I will never leave you,” he said, and attempted a smile.