Madeleine Gayley (Rano) was the daughter of Mrs. Henry Bell Gayley called Nonny Gayley.
In 1932, Quentin told Mrs. Henry Bell Gayley, called Nonny and her daughter Madeleine, called Rano about Baba in Newyork when he met her at dinner with Runao. As Rano listened politely to Quentin’s fantastic narrative, she thought: “Tod is saying all this in exuberance. There cannot be much truth in it.” Then Quentin gave them a photograph of Baba. When Nonny saw it, she was thrilled. She cried out, “That’s the man!” Rano asked what she meant. Nonny replied that, one day in May of 1932, she had been glancing through the New York Times when she noticed a picture of a man with long hair. She felt compelled to meet him. This was the same man. It was Meher Baba. Rano’s heart, too, was gradually smitten by Baba’s countenance; it was the photograph of her Lord, which her heart recognized even as her mind rebelled.
In 1933, Quentin explained to Nonny and Rano that Baba planned to travel to the United States and they could meet him in New York. Shortly thereafter, Nonny and Rano returned to America, anticipating meeting Baba there. When Quentin met Baba in Italy, he told Him about Ruano, Nonny and Rano.
Rano Gayley (Madeleine), daughter of Estelle Gayley was an artist who had worked for some years designing fabrics in New York. Rano Gayley and her mother had learned about Meher Baba in Paris the previous summer through their friend Ruano and her contact Quentin, and had expected to meet Baba in America when they returned there. Ruano was now in London with Baba and had written Nonny and Rano as soon as she found out about Baba’s change in plans, and they had immediately left for London.
Upon reaching London, it was difficult for them to find out where Baba was staying. Ruano had cabled the address, but Rano had not received it. Nonny was in tears, repeating, “Where is Baba? Where is Baba?” Rano comforted her and they both checked into a hotel.
Rano phoned the English Speaking Union, as her correspondence with Ruano had been through its address, and she was given Ruano’s telephone number. When Rano called, Ruano informed her where Baba was staying. Rano asked when they could meet Baba, and was told that it would be at four that afternoon.
Baba was very loving to Nonny, but for His own reason He kept Rano at a distance. Although Baba was outwardly keeping her away, she was inwardly being drawn to Him. On various occasions, Baba would go to a movie with all except Rano, or He would have her travel separately if she did accompany them, allowing her only to see Him from a distance. Between the lover and the Beloved, the pleasure of the play is only experienced through joy and sorrow — this coming from the Beloved’s playful nature.
Rano was destined to belong to Baba and join His circle. Others would keep their distance from Baba at such treatment, but the Beloved Master is coquettish with only those whom He knows have an inner connection with Him and whom He wants to keep near Him. Nonny and Rano Gayley became permanent blossoms in the Beloved’s garden like others.
In 1934, Nonny, Rano and Ruano, who had been told to come to India for Baba’s birthday, were cabled at this time not to come. Instead, Baba was planning to go to Madras for the occasion.
After spending the day in Marseilles, Baba and the mandali took the train to Paris, joined by Ruano, Rano and Norina. During the night’s journey, Rano felt hungry, but the food was kept in a tin container on the rack in Baba’s compartment. Still new to Baba, Rano did not know that she should not disturb the Master while he rested. When she entered his compartment, Baba had his eyes closed and looked as though he were sound asleep. As Rano quietly took down the tin, Baba opened his eyes and motioned to her, asking what she was doing. Rano replied that she was hungry. Baba gestured, “All right, take something to eat and then go rest.” Rano had been careful not to make the slightest noise when reaching for the food and was surprised that Baba was suddenly so awake.
After a while, Baba sent Kaka with two black velvet pillows, one each for Rano and Ruano, along with instructions for them to go to sleep on these pillows. They both were to keep the pillows and never part with them.
Once, Baba found Rano on deck and asked her why she was there. Rano explained that the cabin was stuffy and she needed fresh air. Baba scolded her, “Unless I direct you otherwise, do not step out of your cabin.” Rano returned, but after that incident Baba permitted her to walk on the deck for two hours each day, but she had to be accompanied by Norina.
Baba used to refer to the three women as “the trio” and one day revealed that they had close past connections with Him at the time of Jesus and with one another from a previous life in Egypt. Ruano and Nonny had been brother and sister, and Rano had been Ruano’s son. (Thereafter, Rano jokingly began calling Ruano, “Pappy.”)
Since it was winter, the weather was quite cold and Baba seldom went out on the ship’s deck. He amused Himself each day by playing Ping-Pong with Rano on an enclosed deck. They never kept score but just hit the ball back and forth, with Rano valiantly trying to return Baba’s ever-frequent smashes.
One night at sea, Rano remembered back to the time when she had wanted to marry. She talked to Baba the next day and said, “I now understand why different circumstances in my life did not turn out as I wished them to. Had things worked out the way I wanted, I would never have come to you.”
Rano and Nonny Gayley’s home was in New York. Baba had instructed them to stay there, but to come to the hotel each morning to say good morning to Him before spending the day with their family. When they first went to Baba’s room, they found Nadine Tolstoy posted on guard duty outside. They had never met her before and she prevented them from entering. Rano retorted, “We were with Baba for eight days on the ship. Who are you to stop us from seeing Him? Go tell Him we are here.” She did so, and then allowed them to pass.
Both Nonny and Rano were eager to meet the Master; however, doubts befell Rano and made her wonder: “What kind of Master is He? Is He aware of our faith? We are longing for His sight, yet He doesn’t seem to care.”
On the 18th, Nonny and Rano promptly entered Hygeia House to meet the Eternal Beloved. They were greeted by Ruano, who told them with sympathy that Baba was very tired and would not be able to see them then. They were dumbstruck. Crestfallen, they were taken to meet Norina, Elizabeth and the Kimco group. While they were talking about Baba, he sent a message: “Since you have come from such a long distance, I will see you. But you must not ask anything or talk to me. You should leave after seeing Me.”
Baba sent first for Nonny. While Rano nervously waited outside, her mind began working fast. The door slowly opened and Nonny stepped out — her eyes filled with tears. Rano was taken aback, for up to then she considered any person who gave way to their emotions as “silly and sentimental,” and could not understand what had happened to her mother.
Baba then called Rano inside. Here is how she once described this first meeting:
I had spent several restless hours becoming rather nervous at the thought of meeting someone I knew so little about and yet that, in some strange way, I seemed drawn to. The moment came. I stepped into the room and everything around faded. All I saw was one whose beauty of expression defied description and who looked at me with such gentleness and kindness that it imprinted itself indelibly on my memory. I knew then that, were I never to see Meher Baba again, I had received something that would remain with me for always.
I had never seen anyone so beautiful in my life. I felt that Baba was the embodiment of everything. He had that love and compassion which is indescribable.
To this day, I do not know who else was in the room. There were only hazy figures, but clearly in their midst was Meher Baba with the most beautiful expression I had ever seen. Sweetness, love — everything that was beautiful — was there in His face. I stood, staring at him until someone finally removed me from the room.
In Marseilles, Rano was given the opportunity to comb Baba’s hair. She was smoking fifteen cigarettes per day then, but through Baba’s influence she gradually tapered down to just two a day
On 20th July 1933, and Rano and Nonny were sent to Paris. One night at sea, Rano remembered back to the time when she had wanted to marry. She talked to Baba the next day and said, “I now understand why different circumstances in my life did not turn out as I wished them to. Had things worked out the way I wanted, I would never have come to You.” Baba concurred, “Yes, you are right. Everything is in My hands and I created such circumstances for you that you would come to Me.
Rano became ill in May. On the night of 28 May 1937, Rano was stricken with a severe attack of gastroenteritis, with constant loose motions and vomiting. Meherwan Jessawala brought a female doctor who prescribed medicine for her. Baba was of course informed. He visited Bindra House the next morning, but before getting out of the car He drew three crosses on the ground with His walking stick. He sat for a few moments looking at them and then rubbed one of the crosses out.
Baba comforted Rano and then instructed Manu to prepare some lime sherbet. He dipped His finger in the glass and, placing some of the liquid in a teaspoon, He fed it to Rano. He told Manu to give it to Rano, sip by sip. If Rano could finish the whole glass, she would be out of danger. Rano was told to repeat Baba’s name seven times while sipping the sherbet from a teaspoon. With great difficulty, she did so and began feeling better.
Baba then went to see Pappa who said to him, “Baba, save Rano. She is a foreigner and if she passes away here, there will be complications with the police.” Baba laughed, telling him not to worry about Rano that she would be all right.
Rano had a rash and fever too. The doctor advised her not to go, but she said, “If Baba is calling me, I am going.” Only Nonny stayed behind as Baba had previously ordered her not to come because she was still on a 40-day fast. (Lord Meher-p-1827-1937)
The next day, Norina cabled Baba about those who were ill, and he cabled back that he would be coming to Nasik that night. Baba had especially come to be near Rano during her illness, for her case was the most serious. Baba arrived at 8:00 P.M. and saw all those who were feeling sick. The doctor said Rano had typhoid and Baba immediately arranged for her to be alone in the room next to Nonny’s. The usual record playing sessions after lunch in the living room were stopped, since Rano needed rest and quiet. Rano had been suffering a very high temperature since the end of April. Her face was swollen, she had a rash on her chest and her skin itched. The doctor told Baba that there was little hope for her survival. Baba called Nilu from Rahuri, who properly diagnosed her illness as scarlet fever. Nilu began treating her according to Baba’s advice.
When in Nasik, Baba would look in on Rano two or three times a day. When he entered her room, he would remove his sandals outside the door and enter barefooted so that he might not disturb her if she was asleep. Once Baba came when Rano was asleep. When she awoke, Nonny informed her that Baba had come but that she was sleeping. Rano’s prompt response was: “Well, I’m awake now!”
Baba would hand Rano medicine and sometimes spoon-feed her orange juice. Once, during her recuperation period, someone’s birthday was celebrated and ice cream was served. Rano asked Baba to let her have a little. “No,” he gestured. “Ice cream will be bad for your throat.”
“But they give ice cream for tonsillitis,” she pleaded. “Besides, my throat is all right.” Baba again said no. But later, He came to Rano’s room and gave her a smidgen of ice cream He had put on His pinkie.
Nilu had been ordered to take Rano’s temperature seven times a day. When away, Baba was cabled about her condition every day. Baba had ordered Rano not to set foot out of bed.
Finally, her fever came down and by the 6th of May, after six weeks of illness, she showed every sign of recovering. Rano once recollected, “I was so pampered, I didn’t miss not being with the others. Perhaps Baba needed someone immobile for 21 days — like spending 40 days in a circle.”
After Rano recovered, Baba remarked to her, “I have saved you for My work. Had I not been here when you were sick, you would have died.”
On return to Nasik, Baba asked each how they had liked Meherabad. They all said, “Very much.” Baba asked Rano’s opinion of the place and she answered frankly, “It’s lovely, Baba, but not for me.” Baba just smiled. The idea of living a secluded life with a bunch of women on a remote hill did not appeal to Rano. She had not the least idea that she would be the only one from this original group who would be spending the rest her life with Baba in India.
From the middle of January, Baba outlined duties for each of the Westerners staying at Nasik. Everyone was to rise at 6:30 A.M., meditate for an hour and together take an hour lesson in learning Urdu from Ramjoo. Baba allotted individual duty of drawing and painting of spiritual themes as instructed by Baba; one hour dancing with Margaret.
Rano smoked Lucky Strike and Chesterfield cigarettes when she came to Nasik, but she was careful never to smoke in Baba’s presence. One day Baba came along just as she was finishing a cigarette. She quickly put it out and said, “Baba, this was my last cigarette.” Baba looked very pleased and gave her an embrace. Rano surprised herself when she made this remark, since Baba had not asked her to quit
During Baba’s trip to London in November 1936, Rano and her mother Nonny had purchased a three-piece pinstripe suit for Baba. They had found a clerk Baba’s height and guessed the size. It fit perfectly. On this occasion in Bombay, Rano was told to buy a pair of shoes for Baba as a gift from Nonny. She went to a shop with Norina and Elizabeth. They had to guess Baba’s foot size and take them on approval. The shoes fit and Baba wore them in France.
Once Baba found Rano on deck and asked her why she was there. Rano explained that the cabin was stuffy and she needed fresh air. Baba scolded her, “Unless I direct you otherwise, do not step out of your cabin.” Rano returned, but after that incident Baba permitted her to walk on the deck for two hours each day, but she had to be accompanied by Norina.
Anita was an artist of some talent; she did a drawing in Cannes and showed it to Baba, who commented that it, was remarkably good. Baba then asked Rano’s opinion and she said she honestly did not care for it. Baba reproached her, “How can you say you don’t like it? It is so beautiful! You will never be able to draw as well as her!” Baba continued to praise Anita’s talents just to annoy Rano.
For some months, Rano had been working in secret under Baba’s direction on a large painting. It was later called the Ten Circles. Baba had instructed Rano to bring all her painting materials to Cannes to continue with the work on the painting which had been taken off its stretcher, rolled and packed, and brought from India. One day, when she was painting a section of it, Baba came and made some criticism of her work. Rano said in a huff, “If you like Anita’s drawing so much, why don’t you ask her to do this work?”
Baba did not like her remark, reprimanding her, “You are useless! You have no sense! Your duty is to fulfill My orders!” Baba was teaching Rano to dance to His every tune — with a buttoned lip. At times, Baba would tease her, saying, “Why aren’t you as good as your mother? Nonny is so sweet, why can’t you be more like her?” — All as part of His work to crush her ego.
Rano was staying in Baba’s villa on the third floor, as were Norina and Elizabeth. Baba’s room was at the end of the corridor. Although Rano did not realize it at the time, Baba began training her at Cannes for her permanent stay with Him in India. At night, Baba would often send Kaka to Rano’s room to wake her up. Kaka would knock on her door and, when Rano would come out and ask what the matter was, Kaka would reply, “Baba wants you.” So Rano would accompany him to Baba’s room where Baba would matter-of-factly spell out to her, “I want you to remind Me about ordering soda water tomorrow. That’s all. Now go and rest.”
Returning to her room, Rano wondered why on earth Baba would call her in the middle of the night for such a petty thing. Again after a short time, there was a knock on the door and Rano would be called to Baba. Baba would spell out, “Don’t forget to remind me about the soda water. Now go sleep; you look tired.” Rano could not understand why, for such a mundane matter, she was disturbed again from her slumbers. Yet, throughout the night, the seemingly insignificant subject of soda water kept being raised, and Baba did not allow either Rano or himself to sleep. Years later, Rano realized that one must be ever alert and ready to comply with any of the Master’s wishes at any moment in order to carry out His orders and fulfill His apparently whimsical pleasures.
Another night, Kaka again knocked on Rano’s door and when she came out he told her, “Smoke is coming from somewhere and Baba wishes you to go find out what is burning.”
Rano went downstairs to the kitchen and, with Irene’s help, found the stove (which used wood and coal) had not been properly banked. Baba also went to the kitchen with Kaka and then returned to His room after all the windows were opened and things put right.
Rano retired for the night but was soon awakened again by Kaka’s knock on the door. When she opened it, Kaka said, “Baba wants you to have another look through the house to make sure everything is safe and secure.” Rano did accordingly and sent word through Kaka that everything was fine.
Soon after, Kaka again knocked on Rano’s door with the same message. This went on the whole night and Rano learned to do as Baba ordered, without any question of why or wherefore, thus ignoring her mental reactions and letting her wish to obey and please Baba’s wish remain foremost.
After Baba had announced that He would soon be returning to India, Rano began wondering if she would ever see him again. She knew Norina and Kitty were going back with him, but there was not a hint about anyone else. On one of the last days, Baba called her into his room and asked, “How would you like to come back to India with me?”
“Would I!” she cried out. “But what will Nonny say?” “This time Nonny has no say!” Rano declared. “Will she pay your passage?” “I know she won’t refuse.” “Don’t worry,” Baba assured her, “If Nonny won’t pay, and then I’ll pay your fare.”
When Baba had asked Rano in Nasik how she liked Meherabad, she had replied honestly, “Very nice, but not for me.” Now, she was only too willing to return to India with her Beloved!
Meals for Baba and the women were being prepared in Scarsdale by a temperamental cook named Alberta, an American Indian. Filis had hired her to cook for Baba. Baba sent Rano to the kitchen to bring His food. However, it was not ready, and she told the cook, “This is Baba’s mealtime; how is it His lunch isn’t ready? It should have been ready by now. Baba is most particular about promptness and has been complaining about this lately. You really should try to be on time, as Baba will be upset.”
The cook reacted angrily at what she took to be Rano’s bossing (when Rano was really only trying to help her avoid displeasing Baba), and verbally abused her. This got Rano’s temper stirred and she came to Baba in tears and told him what had happened. Baba asked, “Do you love Me?” Rano said yes. “Then go and apologize.” Rano countered, “If anyone should apologize, it should. Be.” She caught herself and said, “I’ll go apologize, Baba.” But it was too late. “No,” Baba said with a disappointed look. “If you had gone immediately when I told you to, there would have been some meaning to it. Now your apology would be meaningless. You have lost the chance. What is the use in asking now?” Thus Rano learned a very good lesson in obedience.
In Marseilles, Baba sent Norina out to a pharmacy to buy him some mineral water. The label on the bottle was in French and when Norina returned with it, Baba asked Rano, who spoke French, to translate it. Baba indicated that this was the wrong kind of mineral water and sent Norina back to exchange it. She returned with a different bottle and again, after listening to Rano translate the name and contents, Baba sent Norina back with it and asked her to bring something else. This happened five or six times. The pharmacist became annoyed and asked Norina, “Why don’t you ask your party for the correct name in French? Surely, Madame, if someone can read the label, he should be able to give you the correct name.” Norina kept her poise. The man had no idea that this was a lesson for Norina in swallowing her pride and anger, and maintaining her self-control. Back at the hotel, Baba even remarked to Rano, “You don’t really think I’m doing this for myself, do you?”
Baba assigned duties to Rano in preparing charts and working on the Ten Circles painting, Rano was in the habit of getting up late, as she would often go to bed late. But in Meherabad, the others were awake by 5:00 A.M., and tea was served at 5:30 A.M. One day soon after arriving, Baba asked Naja to call Rano to the kitchen. Rano was sleeping at the time and Naja woke her up. Rano rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, put on a robe, and accompanied Naja to the kitchen. A kettle of water was boiling on the stove and, pointing to it, Baba gestured to her, “Listen to how sweetly the kettle is singing.” Rano stood quietly but thought: “What is this? I’ve been called to listen to a kettle boil?”Seeing her expression, Baba spelled out, “It is not the fact of the kettle’s singing that is of importance, but that I thought of you — that I thought to call you.”
When Norina, Kitty and Rano began staying at Meherabad, Baba ordered them again not to mention the name of any man in front of the Eastern women mandali and, similarly, not to mention any of their names in front of the men. The same instructions had been given them earlier when they would visit Meherabad from the Nasik ashram. One day, while Baba, Rano and Vishnu were discussing a matter, Rano mentioned Mani’s name by mistake. Baba became upset and scolded her, “Never commit such a fault again! Don’t you remember what I tell you? Don’t you listen to Me when I give you certain instructions? Or don’t you take it seriously?”
In 1938, England, Kitty would go to church each year on Easter Sunday. Easter fell on 17 April 1938, and Kitty wished to attend services in a church in Panchgani. She told Rano, and Rano said that she did not care whether or not she went to church, but she would accompany Kitty if she liked. Both set out walking to the church that evening, but they found it difficult to locate. When they finally arrived, they found it empty, and as soon as they stepped inside, heavy rain began falling. They waited inside the deserted church for the rain to stop. It ceased after some time, and they walked back to their bungalow, disappointed.
Meanwhile, not finding them in the house, Baba sent Elizabeth in her car to look for them. Her car got stuck in a muddy pothole, necessitating her to hire some men to push it out. When Kitty and Rano returned, Baba asked where they had been. “To church,” Kitty replied. Rano added, “I had no intention of going, but I went to give Kitty Company.”
Baba spelled out to Kitty, “Since you are so fond of going to church, go every Sunday!” “I’ve learned my lesson today,” she said. “I’ll never set foot in another church again!” “No, no,” Baba emphatically told her, “You must go every Sunday! Everything you need is there! You have nothing to gain by staying here and being with Me.” “Forgive me, Baba. I will never do it again.” “Is it proper to go without my permission?” Baba asked. Crying now, Kitty answered, “It was a mistake on my part. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Baba pardoned her and gave her a kiss, taking away the pain of His scolding.
On another occasion, Rano and Kitty were feeling quite depressed. Baba was so preoccupied in Panchgani with mast and other work; they hardly saw Him they felt. One day Baba came and asked the women to tell Him what was on their minds. Rano and Kitty expressed their feelings. To console them, Baba said, “If I do not withdraw Myself physically from you from time to time, you will not feel Me here (pointing to the heart), and it is there that I want you to feel My presence.”
One day, when some mishap occurred, Baba looked at her sharply and repeated, “Don’t argue!” gesturing for her to button her lip. Rano replied, “But I’m not arguing, Baba. I’m simply explaining it to you.” This upset Baba even more. Frustrated, Rano bitterly complained, “There is no use in my staying with you since you are always displeased with me.” Baba replied, “I won’t let you go, and will never let you go!” Baba never did let Rano leave, and of all the Western women who were to come, she was the only one whom Baba kept in India, and who stayed with Him until the last — but it was never easy.
Baba appeared concerned about Rano. He informed the group that she was seriously ill and repeated that he wished them not to disturb her, to keep a quiet atmosphere and not to visit her. Baba then declared, “What is sickness, what is death, but Maya’s glimpses. Die before death and you will live forever!”
Upon reaching Sholapur, Baba asked Kitty if there was anything to eat. Kitty replied there was nothing except bread and a little cheese, because the cooked food they had carried with them had spoiled. Baba instructed her to pass out bread with tea to the group, and give the cheese to Elizabeth and Eruch, the two drivers. Rano was unaware of Baba’s instructions and remarked to Kitty, “I’ve worked just as hard as Elizabeth and Eruch, and have been up since three in the morning! Am I not to have any cheese? I am also hungry!” Baba never missed anything. He asked Kitty and Rano what they were talking about, and eventually brought the incident out in the open. Rano felt ashamed and she repented for her outburst.
The group arrived in Ajmer on 8th February 1939. After few days they arrived, Baba began His mast work in earnest. Rano was instructed to keep hot water ready for the masts’ baths. As soon as one would be brought, she would rush to fill the buckets in the bathroom. Baba would then wash the mast and afterward clothe him with new clothes or a kafni. Baba would take blankets and towels from the women and pass them on to His dear masts’
In 1939, Rano and Kitty talked among themselves and then approached Baba, suggesting that He drop the idea of going to Taragarh. They explained that He did not have to go to so much trouble and expense just for them, and that it did not matter if they missed seeing the Fort. Baba reprimanded them, “If you think I am doing this for you, you are mistaken. My work comes first; you are secondary. What care do I have for expenses where My work is concerned? Money, you and everything else are secondary to my work.” Rano and Kitty, though they had meant well, retreated in abashment and realized the truth of Baba’s words.
After the death of Rano’s mother Nonny, Baba took Rano in His embrace and spelled out: “Nonny was one of My greatest lovers. She always gave spontaneously (financially) for My work. It is because of her great share of timely contributions, among others, that the center plan could be presently started. Funds will come, and come in plenty, but to the dear, departed soul goes the credit of starting My work that is to serve mankind’s greatest need. I am happy her dear name will be connected and perpetuated with this unique institution.” Later, Baba stated that it was the first time He had been present at the death of one of His disciples. To Rano, He revealed that He had given Nonny mukti (liberation).
While in Bangalore, Baba directed the women to stage plays for five days consecutively. One of the plays concerned an African tribe in the jungle. Rano took the part of a hunter, and Irene the wife. Katie was the African chief, Mani his daughter and Kharmen Masi, Soonamasi and Manu members of the tribe.
In 1940, during the Bangalore stay Rano, under Baba’s direction, continued her work on the Ten Circles painting which she had begun a few years before in Nasik. She had also begun another large painting of Baba wearing a turban. One day in January, when she was finishing this painting, she somehow did not feel satisfied with the expression in Baba’s eyes. Baba happened to come to her room right at that moment and Rano expressed her quandary. Baba himself picked up a brush, mixed some color and dabbed a bit on the left eye in the painting, instantly improving the expression! “Now don’t touch it!” he declared.
On 3rd July 1940, Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi with the men and women mandali, and three masts, Chatti Baba, Shariat Khan and Mohammed. Rano accompanied Baba along with other ladies.
In 1941, during stay in Ceylon at Hickgalla Estate was a coconut plantation, and Baba gave coconuts to each of the women to eat one day. But to Rano he said, “Don’t eat it! It will affect your throat.” Rano replied, “In America I used to eat lots of coconuts and they never gave me a sore throat.” “Why do you always argue?” Baba scolded. “Why don’t you listen to what I say?” Baba went on warning her not to eat the coconut, and at last Rano gave in and said, “I won’t eat it, since it will affect my throat.” This answer pleased Baba and he forgave her.
In 1942, Rustom and Freiny’s youngest son Jangoo had been staying with Baba practically since he was born. Khorshed had been given the responsibility of looking after the infant, and because of her charge, whenever they would stop somewhere, she would always demand more space for herself and the child. This constantly caused a clash between herself and Rano, who was in charge of the luggage space and seating arrangements. In Quetta, too, Khorshed asked Rano for more space, and Rano ignored her. Baba then criticized Rano, “Why didn’t you tell Khorshed she cannot take up so much room?” “What is the use in quarreling when she does not listen?” Rano replied. Baba cracked, “Because she has Jang-oo with her, she fights!” (Jang, in the vernacular, means to fight.)
On way to Lonavla, there was a frightening incident in the train, as Meherwan Jessawala relates: “We were all in a compartment when Baba suddenly became very pale, unable to lift His hands and feet. His eyes were open, but He appeared totally drained of blood, and as if He was passing away. He lay there helpless, unable to move and totally limp.” All rushed forward to revive him. Rano administered a few drops of Coramine (a central nervous system stimulant) and within a few minutes Baba recovered.”
The large painting done by Rano of Baba seated, titled The Avatar, was to be sent to Srivastava to be displayed at His house during the Kumbha Mela. But Baba specified that the painting should not reach Srivastava until after He had left Allahabad.
Rano and one of the maids from Arangaon, (Maruti Patil’s daughter) Tara Dalvi, were given the work of cleaning the cooking pots in Lonavla. In Rishikesh, Rano had had to carry the water to the house, and in Lonavla, her manual labor continued in washing the dishes.
On 14th February 1943, Baba departed Meherabad for Mahabaleshwar with the men and women mandali. Besides the Indian women, there were four Westerners living with them Rano Gayley with others. They stayed in a bungalow called Valley View. A brown horse was bought, which Mehera used to ride in their compound. Rano would stand at one end and another woman at the other end, and Mehera would ride back and forth between them.
When Rano began making the charts, Baba would come to her room to see them, or to explain some point, and at that time, Margaret was told to leave. One day Baba came to inspect Rano’s work, and heeding prior instructions, Margaret left before his arrival. Baba examined the charts and then sent Rano to bring Margaret back; motioning to her not to tell Margaret he was still there. Margaret walked in and, seeing Baba, was startled. “Rano, why didn’t you tell me Baba was here?” she demanded. Baba laughed, “Don’t worry, I Myself called you.”
Rano was, of course, delighted that, due to the charts, she had occasion to see Baba. Some days later, however, Baba stopped coming to inspect the work, and Rano had no further chance of seeing Him. Once, when she could not follow an intricate point, she wrote her difficulty to Baba and sent the note through Nilu. But Baba still did not call her or go to her room; He simply dictated a note in return through Nilu.
It was extremely hot in Lahore in July. The electricity in Baba’s bungalow suddenly went out one night, and Baba directed Rano to telephone the authorities concerned. Rano was, of course, a total stranger to Lahore and wondered whom to contact and where to find a phone. She moved about here and there in the dark, and at last went to a neighboring bungalow and knocked on the door. She asked the owner if he had a telephone she could use, and was shown in. Rano phoned the power company and then returned to Baba’s house.
Seeing her, Baba frowned, “Why did you take so long?” “I did not know where a telephone was.” “Why didn’t you acquaint yourself with such information beforehand?” How was I to know the power would be cut off?”
“It is a common enough occurrence here. If you don’t know that, what do you know? You should be more careful about such things. I often go out for mast work, and if you are not alert in my absence, what will become of the women? They lead a secluded life, and you should be mindful of outside things such as this.” Rano had learned by now that the best thing to do at such times was to keep quiet. By this incident Baba showed her that he wished her to develop foresight.
In 1944, Baba then proceeded on to Kashmir. At one point along the journey, Chanji met up with the group. Since Rano had no traveling permit, she was forbidden from crossing into Kashmir. Chanji took her to the proper office in Domel, where she told the officials that she had applied for the permit, but she had not yet received it. Rano then returned and went with Baba to the telegraph office to inquire further. The clerk listened to her explanations, but failed to check the file. Baba signaled to Rano to insist on seeing the file. At last, the clerk admitted, “The permit is received, but we cannot show it to anyone before it is sent to the proper office.” Chanji remunerated him for his trouble, as Baba wished. The permit was taken to the office, and Rano was allowed to proceed.
Baba was with Kaka and Baidul, and Rano looked after the three Eastern women. It was past midnight when the train arrived, and Rano found the women’s compartment locked. She banged on the doors and shouted for someone to open up, but all were fast asleep inside. She knocked on a window, and then reached in and woke up a passenger, an overweight woman, who was kind enough to open the door for them. They managed to throw their luggage inside and hop on just as the train was about to leave! They arrived in Delhi on 14 August, by the Grand Trunk Express, and stayed the night with Keki Desai and his wife. Keki had been warned to keep Baba’s visit an absolute secret.
During this period in Hyderabad, Rano asked Baba’s permission to buy a new pair of glasses. Baba advised, “Buy the spectacles, but don’t spend more than you absolutely have to.”
Rano went to an optometrist, and after giving her an examination, he asked for a large fee. This was a dilemma, because Baba had told her specifically not to spend more than necessary. She told the doctor, “Look, don’t charge me more because I am a Westerner and my old glasses are expensive. I have become poor and don’t have much money.” It surprised the man, as Westerners had never grudged paying his fees before. But Rano continued bartering and thus reducing the amount, until finally, she ended up paying only the cost of the new pair of glasses.
Don had escorted her in the tonga, and on the way back he bought some toffees for the mandali. He offered some to Rano, but she politely refused. When he persevered, she took a few, as she knew Margaret was fond of them. When they got back home, Rano went to her room and handed the sweets to Margaret. Baba almost never entered their room, but that day for some reason, He suddenly appeared right at that moment.
Rano tried to hide the toffee, but Baba asked what was in her hand. “Toffee,” she said.”Why did you bring it?” “To give to Margaret.” “For Margaret, and not for Me?” Baba asked with a pained expression on His face. “I didn’t buy it!” Rano explained. “Don gave it to me.” “How much has he bought, and for whom?” “One tin for the mandali.” “Go and bring it from Don, and give it to Me.”
Rano brought the tin and handed it to Baba. Baba then ordered her, “If anyone ever gives you anything, first give it to Me.” Baba went to the mandali and asked Don, “Do you bring something for the mandali off and on?” “No, not really. Only today, I bought some toffee. Vishnu, however, did not accept it without your permission. The tin was kept by your chair, until Rano took it away.”
Baba joked, using an idiomatic expression, “These people (the mandali) are sitting on my chest [bothering me], and if you continue giving them sweets, they will become fatter and really crush me! I want to make them as thin as air by beating and beating them!”
In 1945, Rano had not been well in Niranjanpur, and in Katrain she felt weaker and more indisposed. Baba was feeding her with His own hands and looking after her with care. He remarked to her, “I brought you here to look after My requirements, but now I have to look after yours!” “It’s my bad luck,” Rano replied. “Not bad luck,” Baba corrected. “It’s your good luck. Don’t worry.”
In Mandi, Baba had told her to eat a plate of curry and rice. Rano felt nauseated but obeyed and later vomited. Don examined her and found she had infectious hepatitis. She was kept in a separate room at the top of a cowshed, and Don began treating her. Don would tell her to eat all sorts of appetizing things, but Baba forbade each new request. Rano improved quickly, and Baba later revealed, “If I had not ordered you to eat that curry and rice, you would have been very sick.”
In February 1948, daytime at Mutha’s Bungalow (the women’s quarters), Soonamasi was keeping watch by sitting on the verandah. Rano would relieve her during meal times. One afternoon when Rano was on watch, a man passed by the house singing. Baba clapped and, when Rano went to him, he asked, “Where is that sound coming from?” “Someone is walking on the road singing,” she replied. “Why didn’t you stop him?” Baba asked. “How could I? He was on the road.” “Even if he were in the sky, you should have stopped him!” Baba reprimanded. “Your duty is to see that there is no noise at all.” Rano could only apologize and promise not to let it happen again.
As usual Jean, Delia, Elizabeth and Norina left to eat, Baba would send Rano after them with instructions to listen to them as they ate and report back what they had been talking about over lunch. This was awkward for Rano, because each day she had to fabricate some excuse for going there. She would pretend to be talking with Kaka as she tried her best to overhear the lunchtime conversation.
After a few days, Jean confronted her: “Rano, I do believe you are spying on us.” Trying to look innocently outraged, Rano replied, “Why Jean, why should you think that? I am conveying Baba’s messages to Kaka.” But Rano felt embarrassed nonetheless, and perhaps that is exactly the reason Baba kept sending her time and time again on this spying assignment.
Among the men also, Baba would choose someone to spy on them for him. Sometimes, He would disclose to the others that such-and-such a person had told Him a certain thing. Sooner or later, someone would lose his temper, and all hell would break loose when the traitor was exposed, as denials and accusations were shouted back and forth. The innocent “spy” could not even defend himself by revealing that He was doing so under Baba’s orders, since that would have displeased Baba. So He had to glumly accept the retribution from those he had been spying on.
In 1950, Kitty and Rano stayed in Mahabaleshwar for a few days before returning to Bombay. Baba ordered them, “Now you have to go back.” Rano asked, “Baba, how many times are you going to send us back like this? Why can’t we be with you?” “You have to go back,” Baba insisted. “For Me you have to go back.” “Oh, Baba, why?” Rano said, and started to cry. “Don’t cry,” Baba consoled. “You’ve got to go back.”
Baba had stated at the beginning of the New Life to the women: “Treat your conditions like a life buoy and stick to it, and I will not let you sink.” Rano and Kitty remembered these words their entire stay in Bombay. Though it was hell for them to be away from Baba, they felt He was their life buoy and knew he would not let them sink.
No women other than Rano and Kitty were called to Mahabaleshwar, and therefore Mansari and Kaikobad’s family had no opportunity to see Baba. Similarly, Khorshed, Soonamasi and Katie, who were in Bombay, also could not meet him. Gulmai was in Ahmednagar, and she too had not seen Baba during the past year. Each Gopi was passing her days in hopes of seeing her Krishna again.
In a lighthearted mood, on the morning of Friday, 8th February 1952, Baba went on a picnic to Happy Valley with Rano and other ladies. They walked the distance of four miles to Happy Valley. They stayed until two that afternoon, and were then driven back to Meherazad by Adi Sr. (who had brought their lunch of pulao).
On Friday, 18th April 1952, Baba, accompanied with Rano and others flew from Bombay’s Santa Cruz airport to New York. On the plane, Rano took seats facing Baba and Mehera. Baba stretched out His legs on Rano’s seat, causing her to sit in a cramped position. The stewardess appeared with a form to be completed, and as Rano wrote, Baba complained, “Why did you move?” Rano was embarrassed, especially in front of the stewardess — but this is probably what Baba intended.
One night when Konrad’s night watch duty was over, Baba rang the bell by His bed and, when no one answered, He went on ringing. At last Rano came running, and Baba asked her, “Where were you? You are supposed to be on watch! I have been ringing and ringing!” Rano replied, “But it is not my time to get up. Where is Konrad? He still has an hour left.” Baba motioned to her to look at the clock in His room; Rano was startled to see that it was past time for her to be on watch. She apologized to Baba and attended to His needs.
But a few nights later, the same thing happened. Baba rang and no one came. When Rano appeared she again said it was not yet time for her to come. But when she compared her watch to the clock in Baba’s room, she found that Baba’s clock was an hour fast. It was then discovered that Konrad had been setting the clock ahead so that he could finish his duty and go to sleep! When Baba was told of his trick, He had a good laugh at the boy’s cleverness and reduced His duty by one hour. (Lord Meher-p-3129-1952)
In Scarsdale, on 30th July 1952, early in the morning a woman came and started banging on the door. Rano answered it. “Baba said He will not see me again for 700 years, so I have come to prove Him wrong,” the woman said, challenging Baba’s word. Three times, Rano brought messages from Baba that He would not see her, and it was better that she leave. Finally, when she refused, Baba said He would meet her for two minutes, but she must agree to keep silent. The woman got her wish, but, sadly, had a great deal of trouble in her life afterwards for confronting Baba in this way.
On Monday, 21st July 1952, Baba was taken to the doctor to have his broken leg examined. He then visited the Central Park Zoo; she accompanied Baba to visit the larger Bronx Zoo.
The Hindu festival of Dassera fell on the 7th October 1954, and as was the custom, the horse Sheba was brought to Rosewood fully decorated with flower garlands, according to Baba’s wish. (Rano was dressed as a groom to present the “Queen of Sheba,” which further amused Baba.
Before Baba had gone to the West in July 1956, Ivy Duce wrote to Rano suggesting that she illustrate the process of evolution and involution described in God Speaks, specifically for children. At first, Rano was not taken with the idea; but after thinking it over, she sought Baba’s permission, asking if she could work on it while he was away, and Baba said to go ahead.
Rano told him, “I think I can depict the evolution part of it, but what about the planes?”Baba laughed and gestured, “Do your best.” When Baba returned, Rano had a preliminary sketch waiting for him. Baba approved it and gave all the wording around the chart: “Formless and colorless, God’s creative and impulsive imagination to know himself as Omnipresent, Infinite and Eternal.”
Eruch suggested that Rano include more than one person on the planes (she had shown only one figure); because people might get the impression that only one person at a time could traverse the planes. Baba agreed. After the drawing was finished, at the end of October it was sent to Ivy, who later had it reproduced.
In 1955, while in Los Angeles, Rano presented Baba with a brown felt hat to wear on His trip back. Before He departed, Baba expressed His wish to acquire a puppy He could take back to India. Soon after, Rano found a pedigreed tan cocker spaniel in a kennel and took Baba to see it. Baba liked the puppy and purchased it for $35. Baba named it Chummy, since there was a watchdog already named Chum at Meherabad.
On the morning of 7th November 1956, Baba, accompanied by Rano and other ladies drove to Mahabaleshwar, where He was considering holding the sahavas. They stayed overnight at the Ripon Hotel, managed by Kohiyar Satarawala, who was residing in Satara during the slack rainy season, and Kohiyar was allowed to see Baba occasionally. Meanwhile, that day in the Middle-East, the Egyptians accepted a ceasefire with the Israelis.
On the night of 28 May 1959, Rano was stricken with a severe attack of gastroenteritis, with constant loose motions and vomiting. Meherwan Jessawala brought a female doctor who prescribed medicine for her, and Meherwan did not get any sleep the whole night.
Baba was of course informed. He visited Bindra House the next morning, but before getting out of the car He drew three crosses on the ground with His walking stick. He sat for a few moments looking at them and then rubbed one of the crosses out.
Inside, Baba comforted Rano and then instructed Manu to prepare some lime sherbet. He dipped his finger in the glass and, placing some of the liquid in a teaspoon, he fed it to Rano. He told Manu to give it to Rano, sip by sip. If Rano could finish the whole glass, she would be out of danger. Rano was told to repeat Baba’s name seven times while sipping the sherbet from a teaspoon. With great difficulty, she did so and began feeling better.
Baba then went to see Pappa who said to him, “Baba, save Rano. She is a foreigner and if she passes away here, there will be complications with the police.” Baba laughed, telling him not to worry about Rano that she would be all right. Baba gave a glass of sherbet to Pappa also.
Baba started his “exclusion” work in seclusion from 5th July 1968. Rano was among the regular watchmen, but because Rano’s health was not good, during this last phase she was given the first two hours of duty.
In 1969, an incident happened to Rano. She brought a watercolor of the “Mastery In Servitude” emblem that she had done for Adi Jr. She wanted Baba to touch it before she mailed it. Baba did so and expressed that He was pleased, and then gestured, “Embrace Me.” Rano later recollected: “Baba looked so fragile then that I was almost afraid to touch Him, so I touched Him very lightly. But when He embraced me, it was the strong embrace of the old days.” It was the last embrace she had from Baba.
Once, Baba surprised Rano by coming into the room as she was meditating. He caught her dozing and instructed her to keep a photograph of Him in front of her and concentrate on it. During the meditation hour, Baba directed that there must be absolute quiet in the compound. “External silence helps the inner silence,” He said, “and only in internal silence is Baba found in profound inner silence.”
References/Images from: Various Lord Meher volumes, discontinued website's ambprasarkendra & love-remembrances, images and dates, stories etc from respective copyright owners websites or publications used with permission - i.e. In His Service, Glow International, MeherBabaTravels, MSI and MNP Collections, from AvatarMeherBabaTrust, BelovedArchives websites and from various other website sources, Books, journal etc. More information where ever available with us like letter scans, stories etc are added. Kindly feel free to Contact us with any updates, photos or corrections etc.
- Goher Irani
- Mani Irani
- Mehera Irani
- Meheru Sawak Damania
- Mehru R Irani
- Naja Irani
- Rano Gayley