Life with Swami Rama in 1987 Plus
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
December 25, 1987
We met Swamiji’s plane outside London. Big hugs for us. Ride to Glovers. Listen to him sing at the harmonium. Group chanting. Picnic supper. To his room and talk, massage, plan. Swamiji asked us to stay in house with him. He is delighted with the Spiral Path book and gifts.
Early to Swamiji’s room. He is practicing voice lessons so I am alone with him and give a manicure.
“How is your relationship with Justin?”
“Very good. He has offered me companionship and friendship, even though he does not want to be married any more since the almost ceremony.”
“Good, Good. OK then.”
I am working on his hand in silence. “Swamiji, I have something to ask you but I am afraid to ask.”
“Ask me! Now!”
“Is it all right that I am falling in love with Charles? You know that you called me to come to India with you and I went with a pure heart. I looked for nothing. You took Justin away from me most of the time and had Charles take care of me. You had him be with me and watch over me. Do you remember?”
The great head nods affirmatively.
“I have felt that you set it up for Charles to be with me. He has been letting me unburden myself to him as a counselor and we have become very close. I love him dearly. I think you did that and I just want to say thank you.”
Swamiji gives me a slight smile and a nod and holds up the next hand for me to massage.
Justy comes and we go down to make bread and have a big lunch. Swami goes to nap and we take train home to bathe, change, etc. We return to a picnic supper laid out in front of the fire. We eat and then chant. He sings for us and my heart opens. My spirit soars to him and tears come to my eyes. I am so happy yet pulled inside. After some hours he calls us up to his room. We massage him and talk of Japan until 1:00 AM when he sends us next door to bed.
Earlier I told him that I dreamed he died. “Ha! Because I am living and getting younger!” he replied.
“I thought it meant a new relationship with you. I am no longer even afraid of you.”
“Tree, you were never afraid of me! Of all the people who I know, you are the one that was never afraid of me.”
Next day he dresses in the new shirt we gave him. He had already worn the scarf we gave him since the first day. He calls the Indian music store to inquire about sheet music and during the conversation in Hindi I recognize him saying “Mira nam Swami Rama he.” When he hangs up, I say “Mira name Gaddhi he.”
“No!” he says quickly. “You should say “Mira name Devi he.” Your name is now Goddess. Everyone should call you that from this day forward.” Yesterday I had told Justy that I wished I had a Sanskrit name. I dreamed of all the names of goddesses that I knew, and today Gurudev named me Devi.
Today, we all went to get musical instruments from an Indian store and then went to visit Marylebone Clinic. When home, Swamiji tried out the instruments. When he went upstairs he called me to him. “Tree, will you get my clothes?” He changed into more comfortable things, smoked and played an Indian tape of songs. I asked to hear one song again and again. I found it so beautiful. I began to cry from the emotion of a woman singer. He said she sang of sadness and tragedy, and began to tell me the words, but I said I knew it already because I felt it.
We talked after his food was brought. I asked, “what is the punishment for an abortion?”
“Only the mind.”
“You mean one’s mind punishes oneself?”
“Yes. There is no punishment.”
After talking awhile with him I found so much love, so much understanding. He had me tell him of the painful parts of my life and the things that overwhelmed me. It was as if he reached into a new part of my innermost being and massaged healing oil on it with a loving hand. I tip-toed out as he fell asleep, my hand shaking and making it difficult to open his door.
The next day Patrick Petroni, the chief physician from Marylebone Health Centre, came to see him. We four met for several hours, Swami teaching forms of relaxation and Ashwini mudra. I left to help prepare food and we all had a great lunch including halvah made by Justy and Swamiji.
Later I became very ill: fever, aching joints, runny nose, sore throat. Swamiji sent for me. He wanted to talk and would I give him a massage? I told him that I got a cold in sympathy for him. We both went downstairs to join the others and spent time chatting. After half an hour, he went to his room while the rest of us visited. Fifteen minutes later he called me up. He wanted me to listen to some tapes as he knew I loved them. He was practicing his singing. Later, Justy came up to join us and we sat with him until 1:30 A.M. We joked much; he told Justy that I was sick “in sympathy.”
I asked him a question that I long held about Lord Krishna and his love, Radha: “Why were they apart when Krishna went off to war. Did he ever return to her?”
“Tree, Krishna never left Radha; they were never apart!”
“But why did he not return to her after his adventures?”
“Because she died! When he was 3, she was 23.”
Finally he told Justy that soon he would have to renounce. Next morning I took the train home feeling awful. I was sick for 3 days. Swami called to say that he missed me very much, but not to be worried; I would be all right.
We had a special New Year’s Eve party: a picnic supper. Then we sat with Swamiji while he sang and played music. I thought fleetingly of making halvah while he sang, and thirty minutes later he sat up straight and said, “We should do something special tonight. What can we do. I know, let’s make halvah.” So we did. Then we had a concert. Isabelle played on the harmonium, Peter on a tabla, and all of us sang Auld Lang Syne for him. He then led us in meditation. Thus we welcomed in the new year.
Swamiji held a class with some of the doctors and we were permitted to sit in. That night he taught us several mantras and then we “smashed” him for a long time, making him happy.
Early morning Upanishad class lesson in the meaning of Seva. He called us to smash him and listen to music. Said he asked for us all night and really missed us.
Evening was a class for the London Meditation School. He spoke beautifully on meditation after announcing that poor Justy had a cold given to him by Devi who brought an American virus to the airport and gave it to Swami! He loves to tell stories about me.
After everyone had left, I asked him if he wanted some tea. “Oh yes, make me some.” He followed me into the kitchen and we saw that I had left a pot of milk waiting on the stove. He asked if he could have tilk instead. I began. Soon Anandita came in and was disturbed that I was making him tilk. She kept correcting me, insisting that I use this cup, not that one, that I use that strainer, this tea, fill the cup more, is there enough tea. When it was finally ready, she said, “Are you going to take it to him also?” I just had to smile inside, able to recognize the old female possessiveness toward him. I said, “You can take it up if you like” and really felt perfectly OK with the situation, although amused. I followed her up into Swamiji’s room as she presented him with the cup of tilk and sat down, eager to discuss the lecture. He said he missed me and Justy so much last night; why weren’t we here? Justy told Swamiji that he really wanted to return but Devi wouldn’t come. Somehow I felt that Swamiji might believe it and feel hurt, but it was too awkward in the conversation to protest, so I just let it go, like the tilk business.
After a little while, he looked up and said, “Ah this is delicious tilk!” I had never heard him say anything about his tilk before! To my surprise, she said, “Thank you, Swami” I thought, “Poor Anandita, she missed a chance to say that Devi did it or at least helped, but she did not. I let it go. I didn’t need it. A few minutes later, Swamiji got up from his seat, came over to me and kissed my forehead. Then he just walked out of the room. Did he know?
The next day, he took us all to an Indian restaurant dinner at noon. Lots of joking, fun, stories. As we left the restaurant, I thanked him for the great lunch and he offered his cheek for me to kiss. When we returned, he called me in to smash him until he started snoring. We went to Whitings for cream tea, which was fantastic, and back home for soup, singing by the fire, massage, chatting. Then back to his room us where we had another mantra lesson. Justy had slept funny and hurt his neck, so as we chatted, I massaged his neck. Suddenly Swamiji said, “Justy, who else would take such good care of you?” He gave orders to initiate and insisted then that Justin knew more than Mrs. Tweedie!
Patrick had arranged that Swamiji address all the clinic physicians today. Justy had to go in early to work, Anandita went to her embassy, the Glovers were at work and visiting friends. So I was alone with Swamiji. We listened to music together, prepared tea, and answered questions from each other. It was a joy to be alone with him. I dressed him up in beautiful clothes for the in-service, as if he were a mixture of my little boy, my brother, and my best friend. It was all so natural, and long missed being away from him. I made a thermos of tilk and we were off in the taxi.
At the clinic, Justy took us to Room 51, where Swamiji smoked, drank his tilk, and was very silly. He told me that he would make all these fine doctors of London chant today, and anyone who could not hit the high note would be thrown out! He then looks around the room and says, “You know, you are sitting over a body buried in the floor there.” I knew that was possible because this lower level was the Marylebone church crypt before it was given to the clinic and many coffins were carried out. Some were re-buried in other sacred ground, and some were taken to the Victoria and Albert as examples of period coffins. I was just about to ask him who the corpse belonged to when Justy walked in with a Christmas gift from Cha, who lived in Japan. It was an apron for me and handkerchiefs for Justy. But before he could admire his gift, Swamiji snatched away a hanky, pocketed it, and stood up with a great smile to go teach the physicians.
The talk was enormously successful, so Patrick decided to take us all to lunch at an Indian restaurant. He brought us proudly to his favorite selection. Swamiji walked into the lobby, said no, he would not eat here, and walked out. So Patrick took us to another, then to another, then to another, then to an Indian shop to ask about similar restaurant. All up and down the neighborhood we rapidly raced, Justy and I giggling behind Swamiji who strode with huge, determined steps, and behind Patrick who steamed as he strode along in silence.
We finally landed up at a Bangladeshi kebab place, near closing time where the manager was told that we would not leave until he cooked chapattis for us! It turned out to be a poor but satisfying lunch as I watched Swamiji eat things he had never eaten before: raw onions, ketchup, and the rest of the poor choices set before us. He kept insisting that the good was great, the atmosphere beautiful (small Formica tables and chairs, with photos of non-vegetarian kebabs on the walls). Afterwards, a bewildered Patrick drops us off at our apartment to bathe, change clothes, and rush back for kumbhaka class.
Justy to work, me to write, and Swamiji practicing music in his room. At 10:30 AM., he calls me, asking me sweetly to prepare his bath. I set it up, warm and cozy and pampered. Afterwards I massaged oil into his hair, massage his head, get his clothes out, etc. I jokingly asked why his hair was getting black while mine was getting grey.
“My lifestyle is good,” he answered.
“Is my lifestyle bad, then?” I laughed in reply.
“No,” Guruji answered, getting more serious, “your mind is. You keep hurting yourself. You are so hard on yourself.”
Later he asked me to please clean his bathroom. I had already done it and said so. He looked so surprised that I said, “I’m fast!”
He raised his brows and a smirk came upon his face: “You’re a fast woman?”
“Hmmm, that might have a different meaning than I intended.”
“Yes, that’s what I say! You’re a fast woman by your very own words.”
I knew I was in trouble, and sure enough, for the rest of the day and into the evening performance for all the students and guests, I was called that.
The next day we took Swamiji for an exam at the optometrist. He has a new prescription for a pair of reading glasses and we walk around town being silly. Finally he said, “Justy, I would do anything for you at all. Just name it.” He smiled and said he would think about it.
“What about me?” I insisted, pretending to be insulted.
“Well, what do you want?” he answered.
“I want you to teach me Sri Vidya completely.”
Gurudev smiled and said, “I will if Justy gives permission.”
And then, of course, Justy played hard to get for the rest of the day.
That evening, we chanted together by the fire, and had a private class on kumbhaka and yoga nidra. In his room, he had me read out loud a long passage from Saundarya Lahari, and together Justy and I read the long introduction to the book. I took dictation and typed his letters until 1:30 AM.
The next morning, I had a very early call from him to take another letter. The stack he needed to reply seemed to be decreasing, so I was glad and got right back to work. That evening he had a lecture to give at Regent’s College in London. We waited for the group to assemble and the introductory words were said in a beautiful lounge and art gallery full of paintings and pottery. He wanted to smoke and lit up. I saw him walking around through all the pottery looking at the bowls and vases when he whispered to me, “Tree, is there an ashtray?”
The lecture was good. He had Justy take the stage with him and teach some of the yoga practices that he was discussing. At the house afterwards we laugh and change clothes, laugh and make halvah, sing, and after midnight, as we are chanting, the phone rings. It is Yogi asking to speak with Swamiji. I talk a bit on the phone and handed it to him. He says, “When I chant, I never get up for phones!” But he did for Charles.
The next day we fasted in preparation for our first lesson in Sri Vidya. He calls me into his room to read him the Indian newspaper, cut his nails, and listen to music. He had no breakfast that day “because,” he said, “I have to complete something.” I did not know what he meant but closed the door quietly when he asked for rest.
That evening, he told us that he fasted that day and meditated for three hours, finally getting permission from his Master for our initiation. At 7:00 PM on January 7, we were given a high initiation from the Sages, sitting in a little bedroom, in a sweet, little house in England.
After that shattering experience, he says he wants to cook for us. So we break our fast with soup and Swamiji’s kheer. We do a little singing together, and then all decide to watch TV. Of all things available, we watch “Heat and Dust”, a story of Britishers in India. About halfway through, he tells us to enjoy and he goes upstairs to his room.
When he hears everyone going to bed, he calls us and we sit with him for hours. We watch as he smokes what he calls his last cigarette. He firmly quit. Another blessing is given to us and he lovingly sends us off to sleep.
The next day he is to lecture at the College again. He works with the staff there, teaching them kumbhaka breathing, answering practical questions, and adding a section about the yogic practices for adding inches to height. We leave the session with everyone excited, writing notes furiously.
Back to the house for music, special halvah, and then the second part of the initiation for us. We are given a long mantra and its translation.
I make tilk for both as we listen to some Indian song masters sing. Then off to bed. The next morning, Saturday, we are told to come to his room at 10:30 for the 3rd and last part of the initiation. Five minutes before time, he pops his head in our room and says “Jus.” After five minutes of his absence, I realize that maybe that was his way of telling us to come a little earlier, so I peep into his room to see if I am wanted.
He looks up and says quickly, “Lemon tea. Lemon tea!” This is pretty disturbing since Justy is writing, but I go to make the tea. I sit down when I bring it, but he looks up and impatiently says, “Go. This is not for you. Go make dough.”
I was shocked, stunned, and terribly disappointed. My world seemed to collapse at being denied entrance to the highest in our tradition, and all I can do is sit in our room and cry. I cannot make dough, so full of negativity and despair am I. Justy pops in once to get the tape recorder and runs out again. He is sympathetic but hurries off. I plan to get out of here for a walk, or better yet, get on a train for home, when Justy returns. When he opens the door I hear Swamiji calling and calling for me. He is insistent, so I peek out. He is standing in the hallway. He sees my face and asks if I am ill. He calls Justy into the living room and they talk. Justy comes back to tell me that he explained things to him for me. Men’s practice must be given separately from women’s and that he will instruct me later. I am confused, but relieved, and go down to help in the kitchen. He comes in and reassures me, and once he finds me OK, he shouts in a strong, playful voice, “You doubted me? Today you have committed a sin; you doubted your Guru!” I answer in jest that it really was his fault, because he made halvah for us yesterday and he must have put too much sugar in it.
“OK, today you will have no halvah, no puri, no kheer, but only din-din!” That was the name of the canned cat food he saw on the kitchen shelves last week and found it very silly. The commotion his words caused in the kitchen made me both laugh and cry. He suddenly reaches over, opens the oven door, and pulls out the pan, burning two of his fingers very badly.
After lunch we go upstairs with him. His fingers are causing pain, so as he closes his eyes, Justy and I get a bus and train and go off to Marylebone to find a good chemist and then to Aimesworth Homeopathic Pharmacy to get Cantharis for our teacher.
When we return, he is “just waking up” and like a child takes the medicine. We all make kheer together in the kitchen and then back upstairs where he asks me to “smash” him again. As I work I get the idea for some games, so we play first checkers and then cards. He and Justy cheat horribly! Then he and I have a hard wrestling match over the cards amidst laughs and kicks and hair pulling. After a while we congratulate him on 12 hours smoke free.
In front of witnesses, Justy, Patrick, and I have a race. In six months, whoever adds the most to his or her heights wins. Swamiji says we must have monthly checks at the clinic. The looser takes the winner to clotted cream tea at Cafe Royale in Piccadilly. Hair fluffing is illegal, as is slouching during the first measurements.
On the way home we go to pick up his new glasses. He asks us to go get something next door, but when we return, he’s gone. We search up and down the busy street but cannot find him. I am really worried; in the past I have seen him go to another realm and not know where he is. What if he is hit by a car? After about twenty minutes we turn the corner and there, before the big glass window of a sock and nylon store, we see the great yogi of the Himalayas looking into traffic while behind him perched in a store front window, and probably unknown to him, are a line of twelve dancing mannequins, kicking up and down showing new colorful nylon stockings.
A full day of visitors. Swami without cigarettes for 30 hours now. We are privately celebrating. I help an Indian woman in the kitchen make puris and kachoris, which are very good. Then lots of Guru “smashing.” Again, we cheat at cards--Justy and Swami are much worse!--until 1 AM. Then we are sent off to bed and I get soaked when my hot water bottle bursts in bed.
A day of typing for him. He seems to fall asleep in front of the fire, but I know he is off taking care of other students. During cooking he comes into the kitchen and plays with A and me. He dances and jokes and we laugh and I kiss his cheek. Anandita leaves for her embassy again, Justy goes off to Marylebone to get ready for the next session that Swamiji will lead, and he calls me to his room and asks questions about my life again. I lay out his clothes and dress him like a baby. I massage oil in his hair and button his clothes and pull on his socks and polish his shoes.
We chat playfully and he gives me two sets of silk Indian clothes for Charles. “I want Charles to be a speaker at the Institute Congress this year,” he says. “Make sure that happens.” But I know that I have no power over Honesdale anymore, and am aware of the racism and jealousy of some of the leaders there.
Soon came Geoffrey and his big black BMW to pick us up for Marylebone. We wait in the anteroom while the other speaker is addressing the clinic staff and Swamiji zips out, to realms unknown by me.
After the talk we were all tired. We all went home by cab. We ate lunch, all slept together on the floor, then all chatted, played drums, and we all marched into the kitchen to make kheer. He was in a great mood, it seemed. He had one more talk to give to the hospital staff, so Anandita asked what he would tell the doctors. Instantly, he answered, “I will tell them that the best medicine in the world is poop!”
We were stunned and guffawed at the absurdity. I noted that he probably felt just like saying that sometimes in the face of the audience’s stupidity. He agreed, and then elaborated: “The best poop in the world is Theresa’s and it should be bought and taken first by all the British doctors!”
They went into the living room as I made tea. When I entered the room, they informed me that we were going to set up a pharmaceutical factory in London. I would sit on a tall throne and would be fed all the very best food and just produce “remedies” all day long. Awful!!! I ran from the room in tears—this time from laughter.
At 6:00 AM we get Swamiji’s blessing, and then Justy stays for the last part of his initiation after he states “I will definitely give you your last initiation shortly. But not now!” During that time I make dough until he comes to the kitchen and we make parathas. He eats early, practices his music, and reads. He calls me in for a hand massage and I begin to “read” his future. He gets younger and younger until he reaches 500 years old and has muscles that massage themselves!
He takes my hands and begins to read it. He looks at it rather carefully, turning it sideways, and says seriously, “You will have the chance for a second marriage, and if you wish you can have one child.”
I asked, “Do you mean maybe this can happen or it will happen?” and he replies, “What can I say? I am not making it up; it is written here.”
He asked how many hours since he stopped smoking and I told him it was 80 hours now. “Your lungs must be getting nice and pink now. I think your new name should be Pinky.” Swamiji laughed and said he preferred Pinku. So then began a series of Pinku jokes. He pulled out the harmonium and sang a song for me: “Oh, Mr. Pinku, please do not smoke again or your reputation will be ruined. . .”
He rested by the fire for a while and then sat up. “Ah! I just had a dream. Anandita was holding out a big cigarette to me and then you appeared, Tree, and scolded her. You told her the cigarette should not be given to me because it would hurt me. So you began to chase her and the cigarette fell into a ditch!”
When I was making supper I badly burned the same two fingers that he had burned two days ago. So I came into his room asking to borrow the Cantharis. “I burned myself in sympathy for you, Swamiji!” He turned his face in an unusual way to me, his eyes burning into mine with deep power and love. “Yes, you did” he replied. In a flash I knew what had happened. He burned himself on purpose to balance any karma I accrued by not trusting him fully that day. There was no reason for him to feel pain; all the experiments at Menninger proved that. He took on the burn and the pain for me. And in like manner, whenever he was not feeling well over the years it must have been for others, and, I suddenly realized that I always seemed to take on the same illness to suffer with him.
After supper a student hairdresser came to cut Isabelle and Peter’s hair. He had his done too, then Justy and Anandita, so finally I sat down too. I looked awful! Justy told me that it was cute, Patrick just laughed when he saw me, and Swamiji said that I looked like a punk rocker. But yesterday during card playing, he pulled on my hair very hard. Even after trying to heal the pain by putting his hand on my head, he joked about my fuzz. So I had it all cut off. We rushed off to his lecture at Regent’s College and I sat in the back so no one could see my new haircut and just in case he would mention his new “remedy.”
The next day when I come into his room, he asked me to eat half of his breakfast. Then Anandita and I massage him again. He had been sitting up all night long. I believe he has massage done in place of walking around out in the cold.
For lunch he comes downstairs and we all make a one-pot meal of kitchari and add some puris on the side. Patrick, Justy, Peter and Isabelle, Anandita and I eat it up. He goes upstairs and we all tell Mr. Pinku jokes. I am called up to help him dress and we both hear lots of laughter coming from downstairs. I open the door and hear that they are telling Patrick the story of Swamiji in front of the dancing legs. He jumps up and we both sneak quietly down the stairs. He leaps into the living room shouting, “Aha! You are laughing at my expense?”
The hilarity increases then, and even more when we hear stories from Patrick about some of the results of his lectures. Eventually he sits down and begins to talk to us. Someone asks about his time as Shankaracharya of India. He says a few words, but I keep asking more and more questions about it for nearly an hour and, quite unusual indeed, he answers all of them. We hear about the job itself of running the religious life of India, how and why he was selected, his daily routine, how he made changes, the swamis who were murdered, deva dassis, kali worship, temples open to untouchables, attempts on his life. Then we moved to the West, where he talks of no real spiritual leaders except the Pope. Then to England where he speaks of the Duke of Windsor. On and on the afternoon went, like an extremely exciting history lesson. It was wonderful and inspiring. He ended by telling us about the futility of fame.
We asked Mr. Pinku if he would come with us to visit Mrs.Tweedie. He agrees and I help him dress in white silk and then take his photo with Justy. As I kneel before him to pull on his socks, I remind him of the order Babaji gave to me in Nepal that I must do the work that I came for. “I know from both of you that my work was to help with your work. It is harder now, Swamiji, since the Institute does not want me there.” In spite of many years of service to my Guru and his work, I do not know what to do. “What other work should I do?” He leans close to me so lovingly, lifts my head and looks into my eyes. “Theresa,” he says, “you should write.”
I am surprised to hear that so he continues. “You have already done a book. I am pleased. It is what you must do. You should now do much more.” I ask if he will help me in what to write and he agrees. He then asks me to edit his new manuscript which, of course, I accept.
Then we go off to Mrs. Tweedie. Her house is packed with people who came to see Swami Rama and we barely got inside. A space is made for Swamiji and Justin and I sit on the floor in front of both of them. After chatting, when silence comes, I ask Swamiji to sing and we all chant with him. Then I ask if he will sing a raga for us. “Which?” he smiles and asks? “My favorite,” I reply. And he nods and sings the beautiful song. Mrs. Tweedie reaches out to me, pulls me close in an embrace and kisses me. “Thank you for bringing him to me!” she says.
Back at the house later, I help him roast peppercorns and thank him for the gazing exercise he gave to one of Justy’s friends. Upstairs, he asks me to help him start packing. He gives us many things to carry back to Honesdale for him. Justy and Anandita join us and we are all busy, making piles, folding. For an hour or so I take dictation, and finally he asks for cards. Naturally, they cheat brazenly again and Anandita asks how I could ever live with them. But I am goofy about it all. His leg is stretched behind me as we sit in a circle on the floor, and he kicks my bottom whenever I play a good card. When I get up to 4 British pounds in his debt, he turned to me, put his hand on my face, and said, “I remove all your debt. All of it.” I wonder if he means only at cards.
Then he sits quietly with Justy and me to answer any questions we have. Justin asks much about healing, the mantras for healing others, his patients, his future work. I ask about the yogic breathing practices and he goes over my remedies again saying “Perfect! Yet damp weather is not good for you. You should not stay in England very long.” Again he asks if I would edit his manuscript and then send it to him. “I will put your name in it also,” he tells me, but I assure him that it is absolutely not necessary. I work for him only, no one else.
At the return of Anandita an hour later, he begins to play with us. He wants her to smile more, to have fun in life, and so we all demonstrate it. We remind Swamiji that it has been 6 days since he smoked and I tell him that I am proud of my boy. He thanks me sweetly and then Justin says that he will inform Mrs. Thatcher about this great event so it can be announced in Parliament. “Oh yes,” Swamiji, I assure him, “you will be knighted by the Queen for this and everyone will have to call you Sir Pinku.” He is delighted and gives orders that I should stow away in his largest suitcase to India. Off to bed at midnight.
Up at 5 AM, all helping with last packing. I make Swamiji breakfast and find him nearly dressed. I thank him for his visit again and he gives me a big hug saying “Please, take care of yourself.” He returns Justy’s coat and tells me to drive in his car to the airport with him. As we drive the busy streets, I speak to him silently. Before we left I had taken his picture and asked him to play the drums for me, which he did. I made a tape of his singing, I packed up his clothes and instruments, and asked all the questions I could think of. I felt like crying at losing his presence again.
At the airport he steals Justy’s Irish hat while I arrange his ticket and check in his bags. He laughs and insists that I call him Sir Pinku. Off we go for sipping tea and he asks my meditation times again. We sit together trying to show that we are happy, but my heart feels so heavy again because I know I will miss him terribly. Suddenly he jumps up, “It’s time to go.” He puts his arms around us and we walk him to the gate that way. He gives me a kiss on the cheek with a yogic blessing and he is off.
From the airport Justy goes to Marylebone to work; I go with Mrs. Glover back to her house, to clean, inhale the last of Swami’s scent from his pillows and sheets before I wash them, and collect the odd bits remaining. Mrs. Glover is quite pleased that now she will have her house back and the cat will have more freedom.
By afternoon we are so devastated that Justy cuts work and arranges to meet me. We go off for tea and a silly movie to console ourselves. Then he tells me what Swamiji told him yesterday: “Both you yogis are no longer attached. That is very good.”
Two weeks later we receive an airmail letter from India:
My Very Blessed Just and Tree,
God bless you. I am grateful to you for taking care of me during my stay in London. I miss you a lot. Hope you continue doing your practices. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
Yours in the service of the Lord,
Round the corner to Paddington’s House, just up for sale. I pass his place, wondering what would happen if I knocked on the door. Who would answer? Would I see Paddington?
I walk up the hill to the old stone Anglican Church to peer through the iron railings and see how the hyacinths, crocus, and daffodils were doing. It was an absolutely beautiful spring day and my heart was so light.
We rented the top floor of a white painted row house in Marylebone. It had three floors plus a livable basement holding the kitchen and dining area. The entire block of buildings were glued together making a complete perimeter around all the yards. Some were open to the house next door and across the way; some were fenced in, keeping the greenery and benches to the owner. We could look out into the garden with its areas of flowers, several lovely trees, and a sitting area, but we were not allowed into the garden.
We even had an ogre of a landlady who occupied the basement, ground floor and second floors of the house. Each time we entered the huge black front door, we would hold our breath, cross our fingers (against her evil eye!) and climb the stairs to our third-floor rooms, counting ourselves lucky indeed if we did not see her or be accosted by her strange sounds.
She considered herself a great musician and would often awaken us with the high-pitched wail of a morning aria, or an equally spin-chilling puncture of the quiet hours of a weekend morning with the scrapes of her violin, attempting yet again to resurrect the cat whose stretched entrails along the bow, screeched in a high pitch, begging to lie in peace.
I believe she had a crush on Justy and often just happened to leave her bedroom in fine lingerie as we came down the stairway from our rooms to the front door. She would twitter away, apologizing for forgetting her robe and saying we were so quiet she did not know we were there. There was then a strong scent of perfume followed by an Italian love song as we passed, and sometimes a question demanding to know how long Mrs. O’Brien would be in residence?