By : Dr. Masha Bhalla
Every individual has a story or a personal experience to make sense of this world. But many things happen beyond our comprehension. Over a period of time, we imply that we know all the right answers, that everything is under our control; we know that it is not so. We are, as things indicate, in that ‘space between stories’.
I have been a devotee of Sai Baba since 1971, when I was studying in the Bangalore Medical College and it was Chengaiah uncle who took me along with his daughter Vasundhara to Sri Radhakrishna Swamiji. Jyoti aunty was too good to me. Since my parents and grandparents belonged to different regions and religions, Sri Radhakrishna Swamiji called me a ‘Rainbow Child’.
In the Southern California town of Claremont, where I now live, there is a retirement community called Pilgrims’ Place. It looks like an ordinary neighborhood of modest homes, but everyone who lives there is a retired missionary or church worker of some kind.
Once a year, the community hosts a festival to which the whole town is invited. Among the activities, many of the residents set up tables in front of their homes. Through photographs, artefacts and personal stories, the ex-missionaries share the adventures they have had in countries across the globe.
Every year, my father would attend the festival. Even though he was a Punjabi, he particularly enjoyed talking with the retired missionaries.
The festival is held during the dry season in Southern California, but one year there was an unexpected rainstorm. It was a warm rain and considering the conditions many of the missionaries had lived under, a little rain hardly deterred them. They donned raincoats, covered their displays with plastic and carried on as usual!
Making a joke of the weather, my father said to one of the missionaries, “Considering how much you have given to God, it seems the least He could do for you is give you good weather for the festival!”
Without missing a beat, the retired missionary replied, “Weather is a decision made by Management. My career was in Marketing.”