The mediums

Berjis Desai

Come in, Sir! That stout lady with the very kind eyes will attend to you. Whom have you lost? Oh, it is always difficult to adjust to a suddenly missing mother. When did she pass away? Good, you have come at the right time. Some come here too early. Then Sir and Madam will gently tell them to come after at least 15 days have elapsed from the transition. Doesn’t it take time to adjust to a new house? And here, you are moving from one plane to another. From the physical and etheric to the astral. Quite a change, you know. Though some eager ones, even on the other side, are keen to communicate early. No, Sir and Madam were not psychics. They became mediums after that Saturday night. All four of them loved each other. Such a simple, middle class family. Never harmed a soul. Not too bright in studies, both the lads were such keen motor car enthusiasts. Off to Khopoli, they went, to check out their engine, on the eve of a motor rally. "If we are late for dinner, keep the masoor gos (lentils with meat) for breakfast, Fatso!” said Rusi, to his mother. As the shadows lengthened, that grandfather clock, near Zarthost saheb’s portrait, made Madam more and more anxious.

 Illustration by Farzana Cooper


And then came the news. There has been a car accident on the Bombay Poona highway. "Is Rusi badly hurt?” she whispered. There was silence at the other end. He is no more. "But what about my Kersi? He too was in the car,” she choked. Both, said Sir, like a broken doll, are no more.
They were jolly fellows, you know. After the postmortem, when they placed the bodies, side by side, outside the Albless ni bungli, half our Baug was there. Sir and Madam shed no tears. They shook hands with tearful mourners, looking at them like sad Labradors. After the early morning uthamna, they climbed four storeys and slumped into bed.
Twenty-nine days after the accident, their neighbor on the second floor, overheard a lady saying at a concert that two Parsi boys were trying to contact their parents, during a séance. For her entire adult life, Madam went to the Mevawalla Agiary every week, and sometimes on Wednesday, to the Mahim church for the Novena. She studied in a convent, you know. Is it correct to dabble in all this and disturb their peace? they asked each other. Finally, they decided to attend the séance.
"Hi, Fatso!” said the lady conducting the séance. This gave goose pimples to Sir and Madam. "We very much exist, Mom, and we are free from pain. We are joyous,” said Rusi and Kersi. Neither Sir nor Madam knew anything about life after death. Those messages kept on coming. Without any break. One after the other. Without any pause. Breathless. Vivid, accurate in the finest detail as to how the car crash had occurred. Corroborated to the tee, by bystanders, police and the insurance assessors. She explained to Sir and Madam about the astral world and its denizens. Both of you have been chosen by the Cosmic to perform a mission. Your sons are wanting to communicate to you through automatic writing. You, in turn, will spend the balance of your lives in educating all about how death is simply a gateway to a new life. Discarding the body is like changing clothes. Your personality continues to exist. Since then, except at night, the main door of this house remains open, seven days a week. People walk in and out.
Someone took them to this Parsi lady who had lost her son, India’s champion jockey, when a horse punctured his lungs, after a fall. She realized she was a powerful medium through whom many disembodied entities communicated including the Irani mystic, Meher Baba.
 Yes, Madam will see you now. Such a soft soothing voice. Please be seated and tell me the name of the departed one and the date of passing. She died seven months ago. No, no, no. She did not die. Her body perished. She is very much alive. I will ask my Rusi and Kersi, if they can contact her. Depends on which realm she is in at the moment. There are seven realms, you know. If an advanced soul has reached the mental plane, then even my boys cannot go there without the permission of the Higher Ones. We will try. Give me her photo. Looks young for 93. Good, that you do kusti every day. After bath, recite five Yatha Ahu Vairyos and three Ashem Vohus. Then light a glass, not metal, diva. Quieten your mind. Sit comfortably and think about your mother. Hold the ball point pen loose, over the note book, a large one with lines. For a few days, you may see gibberish which makes no sense. Then a word will emerge. Then, words. Entire sentences will start flowing. See that Punjabi lady sitting on the sofa. She lost her only daughter, an Air India hostess, in that New Year’s eve crash. The other day, she was showing me the message received from her daughter — "Ma, you are so careless. Your diamond earrings are in the second drawer in that old chest in the study. By the way, yesterday I floated through a most beautiful, azure sky; and I thought of you.”
Of course, my good lady, I will guide you. Read my book on the spirit world. Go ahead, no problem. Initially, we all hesitate. And then death loses its meaning, you know. Did you hear of that young lawyer who fell in a crevice, during a Himalayan expedition, and the Army tried to reach him? A 13-year-old boy, who died on the operation theater during an open heart surgery, messaged me the exact location of the lawyer, and the same was communicated to the Army, who were amazed by the accuracy of the little boy’s instructions, who later messaged to call off the rescue, as the lawyer’s soul had already reached the spirit world.
But, isn’t this unZoroastrian? My grandmother used to say that you may unwittingly invite some malevolent spirits. Indeed, that is why I told you to first say our prayers and light the diva, which will ward off evil spirits. Only if the glass suddenly cracks and is blackened, you must stop automatic writing and consult me at once. Good to see you back. Did you succeed in contacting your mother? Oh, you did! Most do, with some initial concentration. Even the handwriting is of the departed one. Did you read Madam’s book? I found some parts a little difficult to believe. A separate realm in heaven for dogs, pets and even hens! Do you think Madam may be hallucinating a bit or are these details emerging from her own subconscious and then getting masqueraded as messages from the other world? No, no! I am not cynical. I was just wondering. Even the great occultist, Helena Blavatsky, was accused of fabricating the letters from the Masters of the Great White Brotherhood. Sir and Madam are not interested in money or fame or publicity. On the contrary, they spend, on this service, whatever little resources Sir had, from his retirement dues from an organization which he served for 42 years. Why would they want to fool or misguide people? Not to be argumentative, gentleman, but while not denying the bona fides of the lady for a moment, isn’t it possible that the line between reality and imagination can get blurred?
Like the mind wants to conjure up a happy spirit world populated by your departed ones, as alive as before. Great grief is so effectively addressed by these mind games. Maybe, there is life after death; and maybe the messages are true. The events of a single evening, plucking a plain middle class couple from oblivion and turning them into minor celebrities, they who had found a solution from the pain of death. Instead of staring blankly at the uneaten masoor gos on the breakfast table, wasn’t it better to be absorbed in the painless realms where your beloved very much continued to exist? Stop mourning. Go, buy a lined notebook and hold the ball point pen loose.

Berjis M. Desai is a lawyer in private practice and a part-time writer. He considers himself an unsuccessful community activist.