My 96-year-old aunt
This story has to do with my own aunt. She is my mother’s younger sister and she is still alive. She is enjoying or suffering, God knows, 96 years of age. Previously, she lost her sight in one eye. Now she has lost her sight in the other eye, so she is completely blind.
From the day of my arrival, I sent her messages that I would come and see her without fail. She is 96 years old, and still she is all affection for me. Even when I was a little boy, when my mother was alive, this aunt was so indulgent to our whole family, giving us affection in boundless, boundless measure. God alone knows how many hundreds and thousands of times she blessed us, in season and out of season. We Indians feel that without the blessings of mothers and aunts one can never become great. She was very close to our family, and even now she is extremely close.
I promised I would go and see her, but the first day went by, then the second day and the third day. If I did not go on the fourth day, it would be time for my departure. Several times I was planning to go and see her, but friends of mine came to our house to see me. What could I do?
Finally, on the fourth day, I went to see my aunt. She was lying down when her daughter, who is twelve years older than I, announced my arrival. My aunt was so happy. She beckoned me, “Come, my son; come, my son.” I went to the side of her cot and placed both my hands on her head, blessing and blessing her. She said, “I am so grateful to you. I know who you are. You are no longer the little kid that I used to scold. I used to scold you like anything. Again, you know how much love I have for you. I am so happy, so happy. Soon I will be going to the other world, and you are blessing me. I will be able to carry your blessings with me.”
Then she started asking her usual question: When was she going to die? Every time I see her, that is her very first question. I was cutting jokes with her, saying, “There is no empty room in Heaven, so you have to wait here. There is simply no room for you there. It is like a hotel. Since there is no vacancy in Heaven, you have to stay here for another four years until you reach 100 years of age.”
She said, “Is that a blessing or a curse?”
I said, “God alone knows whether it is a blessing for you or a curse for you, but I would like you to stay here. You belong to our immediate family. Four years more you should stay.” My aunt was four and a half years younger than my mother. She had heard all about my mother’s centenary celebration last year, and she was very happy and very proud of it.
She said, “In our family I was the youngest.”
Then she said, “What am I going to do for another four years on earth?”
I said, “I told you last time and this time also I am telling you the same thing: think of all the good things you have done. Just remember them. You will be able to count them, even though you cannot see now. Only one by one remember them. Choose the things that you feel are absolutely the best things you have done in your entire life. Ninety-six years you have been on earth. Now please start by remembering one excellent thing you have done. You do not have to tell me what it is; I do not need to hear. Just think of that. The last time I came, five years ago, I told you to remember all the good things that you had done. Now I am saying that only the very best things that you have done in this life you should try to remember.”
Then she started talking to me about my mother and about my father, asking where they are in Heaven. She said, “It seems that I am not to go now. Otherwise, my sister would have come to see me, and all my dearest ones would have come to visit me from the soul’s world. Your mother has not come, your father has not come, your brother and your sisters are not coming. This is the proof that my time has not come.”
I said, “True, true. Your time has not come. You just stay.”
Then she said, “They say that you have occult power. Can you not cure my eyes, or at least give me a little eyesight?” I said, “No, no, no, I do not have that kind of power. I am not another Jesus Christ. I want your eyes to be operated on.”
She said, “No! I am 96 years old, and the doctors have said they will not be able to cure me. Don’t tell me to go to them at this stage of my life. Doctors don’t know how to cure me. Doctors are butchers, and you want me to be treated by butchers!”
I said, “I am sorry. You do not have to be treated. You just stay here. Except for your eyesight, I can see that you are all right. You are speaking quite normally. You are the same person and you have the same affection for me.”
We went on talking, and I was blessing her. Now, you will not believe it, but this 96-year-old lady had to remind me about something that happened in my life in 1952 or 1953. Suddenly she said, “Yes, you did it for your sister but you do not want to do it for me.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
Then she reminded me of the incident. At that time, when I was quite a young boy, one evening my eldest sister, Arpita, said she was unable to see. Something was wrong with her. She was only seeing very faintly. I started bragging. I said, “Oh, I can cure you!”
What a cure! I massaged her eyes only to make her blind, totally blind. She absolutely could not see at all. Then this particular aunt scolded me mercilessly. But my sister was full of affectionate compassion. She was saying she would be all right.
On the fourth day she had to go to the hospital for an operation on her eyes. I was so miserable because I was the culprit. Previously, she was able to see a little; then, after I massaged her eyes, she could not see at all. I said, “I will cure her. I will not allow my sister to go to the hospital. At this time I am taking full responsibility to cure her.”
This time there was no massage. This time there was something else, call it inner prayer or occult power. My sister got back all her eyesight and she was so happy. Believe me, my aunt is 96 years old. How could she remember this incident that took place more than forty years ago? And just before that we were talking all kinds of nonsense, saying that there are no vacancies in Heaven and that is why she is not allowed to go there.
I said to her, “Everything depends upon God’s Will. At that time, it was God’s Will for me to cure my sister, but now it is not God’s Will for me to cure you. God’s Will is for me to pray for you. Let His Will be done. If He wants to give you back your eyesight, He will do so. If He wants to take you to Heaven tomorrow, you should go, but happily. We shall always remember you, all the affection that you have poured on me and on each and every member of the family. You carry all our affection, all our love and all our good will.”
In the evening of her life, everything is very happy and peaceful for my aunt. For those over 90, these last years are the golden chance for them to have a new life, to act like a child again and to cry and pray to God.
On my previous visit several years ago when I went to see my aunt, her daughter, Pushpita, was cutting jokes with me. My sister was also present. Pushpita said, “Look how haughty and proud Chinmoy has become! He can’t even bend to touch your feet. He doesn’t want you to bless him. Previously how many times you blessed him, and now he is so proud and haughty, he does not even bend his head.”
But my aunt took my side. “No, no, he did bend. I saw him. Again, why does he have to bend his head?”
Then the daughter began scolding her own mother. “All right, he is bad, it is true. But how is it that you did not stretch out your arms to bless him?”
My aunt said, “Oh no, I can’t bless him. When I look at his eyes, I don’t dare to bless him anymore.” And again, how many times in my life this aunt, my mother’s sister, has blessed me! But on that occasion she said, “I don’t dare to bless him anymore.”
How is it that when we see elderly ladies, at that time seriousness is not born? We only enjoy cutting jokes with them.
Sri Chinmoy, My express visit to India.First published by Agni Press in 1995.
This is the 1096th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.