Wednesday, November 08, 2006

[10-19] Jagatbhai's Birthday

We finished up our Akanksha meeting and were all just hanging out. Our excuse- the Seva Café staff was coming to Manav Sadhna, but really we were all waiting for the clock to strike midnight. The kids were very excited and all them had stayed the night even if they didn’t have work so that they could celebrate Jagatbhai’s birthday.

At midnight, the kids were all awake and rang to the back room to yell, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. We sat around in a circle and prayed. The energy in the room was so powerful, which is not surprising when you think of the energy and love Jagatbhai gives all of us. This was our attempt to share that love with him. He lit a deevo and we went around the circle sharing a few words about Jagatbhai. As others spoke, the light of the deevo that was now behind Jagatbhai caught my eye and in that moment I found the perfect words to describe him.

Jagatbhai is a deevo. Near the flame, you receive light and warmth. From afar, you may not feel the heat of the candle, but its light brightens corners of the room far away. Similarly, those who have the opportunity to work with him, gain so much from direct interactions, but even those who don’t work with him, learn much from observing him and brief conversations.

The midnight celebration was very touching. Although some kids were half asleep or didn’t need to stay at MS, they did out of their love for Jagatbhai. The card project children really are Jagatbhai’s children, the love that they all share for each other is very moving.

After the midnight celebration, I had the opportunity to watch Jagatbhai in action, something that is always very rewarding. He was talking to the Seva Café staff about things that he thought needed to improved upon, etc. In a friend and fatherly way, he was trying to awaken an internal desire to change within the staff. Jagatbhai has a way with talking. He doesn’t say much a lotof times, silently observing and accurately perceiving many things around him. When he speaks to you about improvements, he speaks to you as a friend and fatherly figure, with only your interests at heart. Even though he was talking to me, I learned from observing this conversation. At one point, he mentioned how Jayeshmama had once told him to become a zero, ie. disappear from the limelight, and so he did. I took this to heart and in those words, realized that I too needed to become a zero. I am an attention seeker, I needed to disappear behind the curtains, working silently with a pure heart.

After a very late night, I was woken by the sound of by cell phone. It was Anjali.

“Hi Heena, sorry I didn’t call you last night, I thought we were going on the walk in the evening, but we’re doing it now. Raghu just woke me up to get ready. I’ll call you when we are leaving, ya.”

So we were up. After brushing and changing, we waited for Anjali’s call before departing. As we walked towards Subhash Bridge, Ellie and I were fairly silent. As we neared the circle, I wondered in my mind whether or not we would meet up with Jayeshmama et all. As soon as we got to the circle, we saw the four of them crossing the street. There was no need to pull out the cell phone.

We walked in silence. It was dark as we went around the circle, by the time we were halfway across the bridge, the city was alit. In the morning light, we stopped at the Swaminarayan Mandir on the other side and said a silent prayer.

We walked in silence. Without even being aware of it, the Sarve Dharma prathna was being recited in my head, over and over again. There were no other thoughts, just Aum Tat Sat Shree Narayana Tu. Out of the silence came the sound of faith and devotion, it couldn’t have been more right.

The city was awakening as we walked into the old city. Up ahead, I saw a flower vendor, with garlands of marigolds hanging from a string. My heart told me to get some. I remembered the flowers Nirali had on her desk and how she gives them to women on the street. I bought a garland, breaking silence to ask for flowers and gave a few to each walking with me.

We rounded a corner and saw a fight. An 8 year old girl was hitting and shouting at her 3 year old brother. The shouts could be heard all around. Mama and mami almost passed the children, when they turned back to Anjali to approach them. Anjali and I were already on our way. I went to the girl as she was picking up a stone to throw at the boy. Without a word, I gave her the flowers I had in my hand. She looked down at her hands, now filled with orange marigolds, before looking at me, calm and silent. Her brother were running into the streets, so she was trying to stop him. Her love for her brother had turned into a violent fight. Both siblings had released their hot air and were at peace. The sister lovingly took the brother under her arm as we walked away.

We walked by a Muslim basti where families were awaken to the new day. A 12 year old girl stood outside her home, holding her little brother on her hip. Something drew me to this girl, so I placed some flowers in her hand and continued on my way.

Aum tat sat shree narayana tu. The words continued in my mind. In the hands of a woman in the middle of an argument with a growing crowd of people, a small street side temple being cleaned with such love by a boy, to a woman living on the footpath with her family, a rickshaw parked outside a home awaiting a new day of operation. These were the places where more flowers were left.

I saw a woman approaching me and considered giving flowers to her. I hesitated then did. The woman obstinately said no. I had just taken new flowers out and had not walked very far with them, nor had the prathna being gong through my mind after these flowers were taken. It made perfect sense that the woman said no.

The sun was low in the sky, deep orange with a yellow glow rising above the city giving start to a new day. The sunrise was beautiful. I remembered a story and stared at the sun for 20 seconds that day.

We did prathna and sat in silence to pay tribute to someone we all respected. The walk was the perfect way to start the day.

The silence was needed. The mind was wandering and the silence was exactly what had been, without my knowledge, prescribed. As we came back from Jagatbhai’s home, I expressed this sentiment to Ellie and she told me how Sonia had just told her the previous night that I needed to spend a day in silence.

The signals were all there, I decided to spend the rest of the day in silence.

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