The New Life: “My merciful Krishna!” (Part 1 of 2)

On one occasion, Baba was sitting at a place in Madras, when he suddenly gestured that he felt thirsty.

He sent Eruch to buy coconut water. While doing so, Eruch overheard some people discussing an unfortunate family. Eruch asked a paanwala if he knew of any needy families in the area. The paan-seller informed him, “In Gudur there is a family who was once quite well-to-do, but they are now in such a miserable condition they cannot even afford food and clothing. The man used to be a wealthy merchant and was having a palatial bungalow constructed. Suddenly his business plummeted and the building contractor, taking advantage of his situation, began looting him. The result was the contractor himself became the owner of the building, and the family now occupies a tiny hut, where they live in squalor.”

Eruch repeated the story to Baba, and Baba became anxious to proceed immediately to Gudur. Two hours later, they caught the first train there. When they arrived, Eruch went ahead from the station to find the family in a suburb called Old Mambalam. He came to a large house and knocked on the door. A well-dressed man appeared, and Eruch asked for the man whose name he had taken from the shopkeeper. “I am that man!” the head of the household replied. This surprised Eruch, and he thought the search had been in vain. Still, he said, “I have heard that the former owner of this house was once very wealthy but is now a pauper. My elder brother has come to render him some help.” The owner did not reply, but his young son who had been standing behind him said that the man he wanted resided in a hut in a nearby alley. The man Eruch had been talking with was the person who had taken over the house from its original owner. Surprisingly, their names were almost the same.

The boy showed Eruch to the other man’s hut. It was Diwali, the colorful festival of lights, but outside the hut, not even one light burned. Eruch tapped on the door of the hovel, and a young girl in a tattered sari cautiously opened it. It was dark inside. Only a tiny light flickered in front of a glass case housing a tall idol of Lord Krishna which, even in his destitution, the man had saved. The poor man was sick and lay on a cot in the corner. His wife was seated on another cot in the one-room shack., p2951
November, 1950; Gudur

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