March 29, 1989
Om Sri Sai Ram all!
How is everything there? I never ask, do I? Now here, the plot is thickening for just about all - how life simply goes on, time continues to pass, is even surprising.
It took one week of delays and troubles, but I finally managed to secure a plane ticket to Malaysia and back, for 2 May for Rs 4,800.
I returned to Parthi. Then on March 26th morning, Venkamma and others went on a day-trip to see Swami in Whitefield. Three van loads went – Venkamma’s van was first and reached safely. Meanwhile the second van had a terrible accident, about 2/3 the way there, the van collided with a lorry and rolled hither and thither, ending up top-side, causing two deaths. One student died, the son of a Madras volunteer whom I know. One lecturer also died. And my friend, who’s been helping me with Telugu all this time (lecturer’s wife Satyavati), was badly inured, so was her husband. All were rushed to the hospital.
Satyavati had stitches on neck, head, and back of head. Her husband is worse off, losing one eye even, they say. The others have various cuts, stitches, etc. Swami had some transferred to Whitefield hospital and has visited them and promised to visit daily. He even poured water into Satyavati’s mouth with His own fingers – it cheered her up so much! Sai has said He’ll visit the gents in the bigger Bangalore hospital. The Madras volunteer (whose son died) also is in Whitefield hospital with stitches.
That day Sai refused to see anyone, including Venkamma, and wouldn’t eat that day also! Several were on the danger list but luckily all are off it now. I heard that He said He wouldn’t give Darshan for three days.
Meanwhile, Kutumba Rao is in the last stages of cancer, throwing up blood and passing only blood. He’s here in Parthi, in a room. His wife is taking care of him and countless doctors and VIPs are visiting the room daily. They say he only has days left.
You can imagine the atmosphere!
Meanwhile the office is giving me trouble about visa papers, they even made me go to Bangalore again one day, 10 hours by bus coming and going, plus Rs 50 gone! Karma. (I'm halfway inside the ashram, halfway outside now.)
Venkamma has looked outwardly affected by the happenings, not wanting to talk to people, spending more time alone, even doing pujas and mantras. She said Parvatamma was a bit better though. At least Venkamma has been gentle with me, even letting me sleep in her room at night (along with the elderly Meenamma, who is the 'guard' on her verandah!), for two days when the office was refusing to let me in. Divine atmosphere!
Kutumba Rao’s Death
April 4, 1989
Sai Ram All!
All is continuing as usual here. Kutumba Rao had a saaad death here in Prasanthi Nilayam on March 28th. Meanwhile, Sai was in Whitefield. It seems that early that morning, the office people called Swami on the telephone to say that Kutumba Rao’s condition was drastically sliding downhill. Swami reportedly replied, “Yes, I know. Today the good time of day is between 11:30 and 12:30 PM, he will die within that time.” So all were prepared and kept vigil outside his house. He died at 12:05 PM. Later Swami sent word that the cremation was to be held that very day, before dusk, at 5:30 PM. Sai Ram.
Meanwhile, the van accident victims are recovering and walking about.
Being with Venkamma only is truly intense. Big, huge lessons in ego-smashing, sense-control (eating and living as normal even when in bad mood, or else she’ll scold me even more!) and respectful behavior. To change past habits is quite a task!
Meanwhile the office finally gave me the room in South Prasanthi C-32, and let me pay rent for a month, so no troubles there. They were all extremely kind and with fatherly concern. They even said, “You don’t need to register, you don’t need a card or room, just be where you’ve been, in Venkamma’s room!” I was truly shocked, and insisted on my own room! Venkamma would be very upset if I told her the office spoke thus! She’s a bit over-careful when it comes to rules of ashram (like no foreigners associating with Indians, etc.).
Then the top Naidu (not our Vibhishana Naidu) said that everyone was watching me and to please not do store seva! I expected it to happen, anyway, so I am no longer in the vegetable shop doing seva. The others who got me in the shops, Vacch Uncle, Tongamma and top Kaildas Uncle, simply had to bow to Naidu’s wishes.