Madhu, a young man, suddenly died of cholera. He was the only son of his parents. His death threw his mother and father into a sea of grief. Friends and relatives came to console the stricken family. A neighbor, Sadhika, consoled Madhu’s mother, Manjuri, with most profound words:
“Do not cry, do not weep,” said Sadhika. “Our dearest Madhu has gone back to his eternal Father. We all loved him deeply and we shall continue to love him. But He who loves him most, that is, his compassionate Father, his Divine Father, wanted him to go back to His infinite Love, Peace and Light. I beg you not to shed bitter tears. What I say, you yourself will feel to be true in the course of time.”
Manjuri was greatly consoled. She thanked her neighbour with deep feeling and Sadhika left for her own home, quite happy that she had been of some help to the poor woman who had lost her only son.
The irony of fate! The following week Sadhika’s daughter, Malati, suddenly died of heart failure without having been ill at all. Sadhika had five children. Malati was her third daughter. The entire household was overwhelmed with grief at this sudden blow. Friends and relatives hurried to comfort the bereaved family. Sadhika went practically mad from the sudden shock. Her friend Manjuri, whom she had consoled so movingly just a week before, sympathized more deeply than anyone else. Manjuri used practically each and every piece of heartfelt advice that she had received from Sadhika only the other day when she had lost her son.
“Malati’s Divine Father wanted her to go back to His infinite Love and Peace…”
Sadhika paid no heed to her consolation. On the contrary, she became furious. “Stop your philosophy. I hate your philosophy. This is not the time for me to learn philosophical theories from you!”
Poor Manjuri, in a soft, apologetic voice said, “This is not philosophy. These are precious truths which I learned from you just the other day. I felt them to be absolutely true. I am offering these precious thoughts to you at the time of your own need. My heart is so grateful to you for all that you did the other day when I had lost my dearest son.” Sadhika flew into a rage, her eyes emitting fire. “Stop your preaching, you stupid woman! You forget that it was your son and not mine. That is why I was able to offer you philosophy. I had nothing to do with your son. I was quite detached when I spoke to you. But now it is I who am the victim. It is I who bear the loss. So stop your philosophy and go home. This is neither the time nor the place to preach!”
At this cruel treatment, Manjuri was stung by sorrow and humiliation. She uttered the name of her neighbour’s dead daughter, Malati, three times, her voice full of aspiration and prayer. Lo! Malati’s disembodied soul was observing the whole situation in the room where the mourners were sitting. Suddenly the deceased girl’s soul entered into Manjuri, who in no time felt a kind of uneasiness all over her body. She felt a premonition of some catastrophe and immediately left for home. While Manjuri was walking along the road, the dead girl’s younger brother Bhupal, aged twelve, saw her and cried out to his mother, “Look! Look! Malati is there! I see her in that woman. Look at her back, look at her movements, look at her feet…it is Malati, only Malati!”
The mother scoffed at her son’s foolishness, but the boy insisted. “Look! Look! just watch her!” Then, to her utter astonishment, Sadhika saw her dearest daughter Malati, fully alive, in Manjuri’s body.
Both mother and son cried aloud, begging Manjuri to come back, but she paid no attention to their pleas. Then they ran up to her. Now Manjuri lost control and said, “This road is not your property. How dare you follow me to disturb me further after having humiliated me so mercilessly? The God within me forgives you, but I simply cannot. May God console you, Sadhika, in His own way.”
As Manjuri was saying this, both Sadhika and her son Bhupal saw the very eyes of their dear Malati shining through her eyes. Then Bhupal saw his elder sister blessing him and heard her voice saying, “I shall love you, Bhupal, I shall think of you and help you from the higher worlds from now on.”
Sadhika felt her daughter embracing her and heard Malati’s voice saying, “Mother I live!” At that moment both mother and son saw a ball of red light shooting from Manjuri’s head and piercing the western rim of the sky.
Lo! Malati’s soul was on its way home. Manjuri was on her way home, too. Sadhika and her son likewise returned home carrying Malati’s soulful message for her family: “Mother, I live!”
from Gopal’s Eternal Brother
And Other Stories for Children
by Sri Chinmoy