Mataji breathed her last yesterday evening.
I met her for the first time in May 2000 when I had gone to her in the throes of the deep grief I had sunk in after the untimely death of both my parents. For years I had just lpcked myself up and lost the key. No doctor, or soothsayer had been able to help me get out of the hole I had sunk in. It was the young woman who came to do my nails that hesitantly told me about her as she feared I would not accept to go to a slum as that is where Mataji reigned. But my grief was so raw that I was willing to go every and anywhere I could find solace.
She lived in a temple, where Gods and humans lived side by side in perfect harmony. The tiny abode was a cornucopia of eclectic things that the senses took time to get used to, but notwithstanding the initial shock, it was the feeling of peace and love that embraced you as you stepped in the tiny door. I found myself going day after day to that haven of peace. Slowly I shared my grief and the loss I felt and she gently just kept telling me that it would all be OK. All I needed to do was to transform the negative energies I had let myself sink in to something that would make my parents proud.
I did not know how but as I spent time with her, the answer came. To all of you who have followed my journey the answer was Project Why!
It is Mataji who found us the first tiny slum tenement that we would buy and begin our work in. It is in a corner of her home that we set up our first office and it is with her blessings that became who we are today. She helped us weather every storm and fought with the community when detractors raised their ugly heads.
For almost two decades my day would begin with a stop at her temple and a lovely cup of tea shared with her. It was the highlight of my day. But with the pandemic and then my being diagnosed with multiple myeloma that lovely ritual stopped.
For the last year or so I hardly met her. With my immunity being at its nadir I gad to remain locked up in my home and got news of her ailing health from Shamika or Rani. Even today I will not be able to pay my respects. But Mataji and I have her heart connect and I know she knew that she was always in my heart.
For Project Why its is the end of an era. The only way we can honour Mataji is by continuing our work with renewed commitment with the hope that she continues showering our blessings on us.
I have lost a mentor, a guide, a friend….
May she rest in heavenly peace.