BEYOND SHIRDI

BEYOND SHIRDI
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  • Item #: 0299
BEYOND SHIRDI K. Venkataraman LONE BUT NOT ALONE IN SHIRDI Vinayak was an advocate living in Boribandar in Bombay. Judging by the loans they demanded from him, his relatives evidently thought he was doing well. Only he knew that it was not so. He felt that his earnings were not commensurate wit his abilities. No doubt his peers and the judges liked him and treated him with respect, but as far as his income went, it was sufficient for the family and nothing more. It was vacation time for the courts. As he was reclining in his easy chair that afternoon he fell to brooding. His son Arun came running into the house. Arun threw his school bag in a corner and rushed towards Vinayak. “Papa,” he shouted, “look at this.” He had in his hands a picture of Sai Baba and a copper ring. “Look at this ring, there is Sai Baba on it. One man came to the school and distriburted these things. Look at this photo. It says at the bottom ‘Why fear when I am here.” Who had not heard of Sai Baba or not seen his picture sitting on a stone seat with his right leg over the left knee? Meanwhile Vinayaka’s wife came into the room. “Let us keep the picture in the puja room. I had been meaning to get one for the puja room but somehow it did not happen so far,” she said. “I wil go and frame this picture tomorrow.” “I will wear the ring.” Said Arun. “See, it fits my finger perfectly.” The donor had obviously taken care to distribute in the school, small rings of a size which would fit the fingers of children. A little later, Vinayak went for a stroll. As he was passing the railway station, a thought came upon him. Why not visit Shiridi? It was true that Sai Baba had shed his body in body in 1918, but that had hardly changed anything. People went in increasing numbers to his Samadhi and paid obeisance to it. Vinayak had had no chance to do so. Vinayak went to the booking counter. When he asked for information about trains to Kopergaon, the booking clerk said, “Are you going to Shirdi? Well, there are two ways to go to Kopergaon, one via Manmad and the other via Dhound. Go to Dhound and change train there. It is better. The trains going north may be crowded. Gandhiji’s Dandi March is on.” Vinayaka bought a ticket to Kopergaon via Dhound for early next morning. He did not know what made him decide so quickly. He had just enough cash to buy the ticket and get some bhelpuri on the way home. When he announced his plan to go to shirdi, there was a question mark in the face of his wife and of his son too. He read their thoughts and said, “Next time, I will you both.” The following morning Vinayak had a hurried bath. As he was putting on his shirt, he opened the cash box, took out a hundred rupee note and put it in his wallet. A hundred rupees would not be required for a stay of two or three days and the return travel. But it was better to take more rather than less. One did not want to be stranded without cash. He made sure that the ticket was in the wallet. He put the wallet in the side pocket of his jubba, grabbed the packet of puris his wife had made, shoved it into his shoulder bag, pur on his cap and rushed out.
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