There is a very large hole in the scene at Meherabad now. Mohammed the mast has finally finished his journey and gone home to his Beloved Meher Baba.
Mohammed died June 17, 2003, a few days after a stroke. It is thought he was about 95 years old. The news of his death went out around the world very quickly, and I was surprised at my own reaction. My heart sank, even though I know his own joy must be boundless. He waited a long time for that union.
I have such wonderful memories of Mohammed, most of them from the early 1970s when I spent months in India. But I saw him for the first time in 1962 when Baba sent us up to Meherabad and Meherazad after the East West Gathering. Mohammed came out on the veranda and looked, with simple and telling dignity, at a mob of Westerners standing below him and waving offerings of candy at him.
It seemed to me that he wore that dignity like a mantle and it was almost always there, along with incredible charm and yes, humor, although occasionally broken by what appeared to be a bad mood. At those times, you were well advised to give him a wide berth.
Early in the 1970s, a friend and I were patching and painting the Rahuri cabin at Meherabad, and Padri was kind enough to provide us with lunch. One day, I was up on a ladder painting near the roof line when we were called to lunch. We were a bit slow responding and I heard a grunt behind me. I turned to see Mohammed standing on the veranda looking at us, scowling, with his arm outstretched and pointing at Padri’s kitchen. I didn’t climb down the ladder, I slid down and ran for the kitchen. Padri and the cook were laughing out loud and I looked back to see Mohammed grinning from ear to ear.
Mohammed had varying responses to visitors. Sometimes, he sat quietly on his bed totally ignoring visitors. Sometimes he acknowledged visitors briefly. One time, when a young man approached him, Mohammed indicated he wanted his visitor to hold out his hands, palms up. The visitor did so and Mohammed made him stand there immobile for a long time. I think it was probably the longest period of stillness for that young man in his lifetime.
Everyone must be familiar with the “True Love” poster which uses one of a set of three photos of Baba hugging a young Mohammed. The first photo shows a very morose Mohammed, but in the third photo (the one used on the poster) he is smiling blissfully.
Mohammed had some favorite things, one of them a ball of string he had made from bits and pieces found around the compound. One day, a friend and I were sitting on the edge of the veranda near the main hall where Mohammed lived. He quietly appeared, walked up to my friend and dropped in front of her an orange and his ball of string. Precious gifts, indeed, and something I don’t believe he did very often. My friend picked up the string and thanked Mohammed. Then we looked at each other and decided we better eat that orange right away. Mohammed looked rather pleased at the whole exchange.
Mohammed spent nearly all his time since 1936 in Baba’s ashram. He was one of the most beloved of what Baba called his “children.” I remember vividly the explanation Padri once gave of what life was like for Mohammed. “Can you imagine what it’s like for him?” Padri said. “He’s standing on the edge of a deep abyss, able to see the brilliant light of the Goal on the other side. But he can’t cross that abyss on his own. So he stands there and waits and waits and waits.” On June 17, I hope that Meher Baba stretched out his hand and pulled Mohammed across that abyss to the other side.