The New Life: The tonga breaks down

That same morning of January 6th, the party resumed the journey [leaving Ratangarh], and after traveling five miles, the tonga drawn by the white horse broke down when Baidul tried to pass the other tonga while crossing a damaged bridge.

With great difficulty, he managed to cover the remaining distance of about a mile to the mango grove where the party had halted. As soon as he jumped down, he could see that one of the tonga wheels was broken, which he reported to Baba.

Baba replied, that He did not want to he held up in this place. Instead, He insisted, that the party get an early start the next morning. Therefore, the wheel had to he repaired by evening.

Learning that there was a wheelwright in a nearby village, Adi, Donkin and Pendu left with the damaged wheel in another tonga that afternoon, thinking the repair would not take more than an hour. Because it was warm at that time of day, Donkin wore only a short-sleeved shirt, although the other brought their woolen coats.

The wheelwright began replacing some of the wooden spokes and repairing the iron plate that went around the wheel, but the work went much slower than the group had hoped. It was growing dark. Cold was setting in, so the wheelwright offered them hot tea, but the companions said they could only accept it if it were given in bhiksha. The wheelwright thought this request strange coming from such healthy looking men who obviously had money to pay for the repairs.

He told them he thought they must be joking, but the companions assured him they were serious. Still confused, but being hospitable, the wheelwright said, “Sirs, whatever it be, please accept tea at my house!”

It was now very cold, so the companions gratefully followed the wheelwright into his house, looking forward to a hot cup of tea, but when it was served, they were unpleasantly surprised. Aside from putting sugar in tea, it turned out that it was customary in that part of India to add salt to it as well. Only politeness obliged the companions to drink the briny concoction.

Meanwhile, the wheelwright continued the repair. The men watched as he put the wheel into a fire to attach the iron plate, and then secure the rubber tire. Finally, the wheel was fixed and a friend of the wheelwright guided the companions through the dark back roads onto the main road.

By the time they reached Baba and the others, it was after midnight and Dr. Donkin was chilled to the bone. Out of serious concern for his health, the others quickly made a roaring fire, heated several blankets and wrapped them around him. It was the perfect remedy.

The four companions then discovered that the bundle of their cloth sacks used for begging had been stolen while they were waiting outside for the repair.

To make things worse, they learned that earlier that evening a group of wild monkeys had sneaked into the camp and absconded with all the food that had been begged during the day, so the entire party had gone without their evening meal.

Sleepy and exhausted the four men still had to secure the wheel to the tonga before they could go to bed. Finally, Dr. Donkin fell asleep by the fire side, too tired even to open his bedding roll.

-“Meher Baba’s New Life”, Bhau Kalchuri, p285

Photo courtesy: https://belovedarchives.org/newLife.php

 

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