"Mother, I live!" —- A Short Story

Madhu, a young man, suddenly died of cholera. He was the only son in the family. His death threw his parents into a sea of grief. Friends and relatives came to console the stricken family. A neighbour, Sadhika, consoled Madhu's mother most profoundly.

“Do not cry, do not weep,” said Sadhika. “Our dearest Madhu has gone back to his Eternal Father. We all loved him deeply and we shall continue to love him. But He who loves him most, that is, his Compassionate Father, his Divine Father, wanted him to go back to His infinite Love, Peace and Light. I beg you not to shed bitter tears. What I say, you yourself will feel to be true in the course of time.”

Madhu's mother was greatly consoled. She thanked her neighbour deeply and Sadhika left for her own home, quite happy that she had been of small help to the poor woman who had lost her only son.

The irony of fate! The following week Sadhika's daughter, Malati, suddenly died of heart failure without having been ill at all. Sadhika had five children; Malati was her third daughter. The entire family was overwhelmed with grief at this unexpected blow. Friends and relatives hurried to console the stricken family. Sadhika went practically mad from the sudden shock. Her friend, Madhu's mother, whom she had consoled so movingly just a week before, sympathised more deeply than anyone else. Madhu's mother used practically each and every piece of heartfelt advice that she had received from Sadhika only the other day when she had lost her only son. “Malati's Divine Father wanted her to go back to His Infinite Love and Peace…”

Sadhika paid no heed to her consolation. On the contrary, she became furious. “Stop your philosophy. I hate your philosophy. This is no time for me to learn philosophical theories from you!”

Poor Madhu's mother, in her soft, apologetic voice, said, 'This is no philosophy. These are precious truths which I learned from you just the other day. I felt them to be absolutely true. I am offering these precious thoughts to you at the time of your own need. My heart is so grateful to you for all that you did the other day at the loss of my dearest son.”

Sadhika flew into a rage, her eyes emitting fire. “Stop your preaching, you stupid woman! You forget that it was YOUR son and not MINE. That is why I was able to offer you some philosophy. I had nothing to do with your son. I was quite detached when I spoke to you. But now, it is I who am the victim. It is I who bear the loss. So stop your philosophy and go home. This is neither the time nor the place to preach!”

At this cruel treatment, Madhu's mother was stung by sorrow and humiliation. She uttered the name of her neighbour's dead daughter, Malati, three times, her voice full of aspiration and prayer. Lo! Malati's disembodied soul was observing the whole situation in the room where the mourners were sitting. Suddenly the deceased girl's soul entered into Madhu's mother, who, in no time felt a kind of uneasiness all over her body. She felt the premonition of some catastrophe and immediately left for home.

While Madhu's mother was walking along the road, the dead girl's younger brother Bhupal, aged 12, saw her and cried out to his mother, “Look! Look! Malati is there! I see her in that woman. Look at her back; look at her movements; look at her feet… it is Malati, only Malati! The mother scoffed at her son's foolishness, but the boy insisted. “Look! Look! Just watch her!” Then to her utter astonishment, Sadhika saw her dearest daughter, Malati, fully alive, in the poor lady's body.

Both mother and son cried aloud, begging the woman to come back; but she paid no attention to their pleas. Then they ran up to her. This time, Madhu's mother lost control and replied: “This road is not your property. How dare you follow me to disturb me further after having humiliated me so mercilessly? The God within me forgives you, but I simply cannot. May God console you, Sadhika, in HIS own way.”

As Madhu's mother was thus speaking, both Sadhika and her son Bhupal observed the very eyes of their dear Malati shining through the woman. Then Bhupal saw his elder sister blessing him and he heard her voice saying, “I shall love you, Bhupal; I shall think of you and help you from the higher worlds from now on.”

Sadhika felt her daughter embracing her and heard Malati's voice saying, “Mother, I live!” At that moment both mother and son saw a red ball of light shooting from the head of Madhu's mother and piercing the western rim of the sky.

Lo! Malati's soul was on its way home. Madhu's mother was on her way home, too. Sadhika and her son likewise returned home carrying Malati's soulful message for the family: “Mother, I live!”

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol. 3, No. 1,2, 27 Aug. — Sep. 1967, Boro Park Printers -- Brooklyn, N. Y., 1967