It was indeed a night of admonition for those who could read the Sign and understand it. It was the night when the first Scud missile was shot at Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Neither reading it in a newspaper nor watching the incidents on T. V. could express the intensity of a war as a personal experience.
What we faced at that bloodcurdling hour and how God's mercy reached out and protected us could best be described by reliving the period of tension and fear.
The panic and the nervous activity of the previous evening had given way to an uneasy silence that now lay like a heavy pall on the beautiful and majestic Riyadh. Expecting an air attack we could not sleep. At about two o'clock the silence was ripped by a hooting siren that indicated danger. The sound was singularly fearsome, like the wailing of a wolf in the desert.
Throughout the previous week the T. V. and the radio had prepared the population for the event, but when the actual event occurred none knew what to do. We grabbed our children and half-dragged and half-carried them to the basement, into the sealed room. Gas masks were taken out and the door was tightly closed. In the dim light of the lamp still burning in a corner I saw my daughter-in-law holding her five week old son and weeping quietly. We were unable to procure a gas mask for the baby.
"I don't want to wear mine, leaving my baby exposed to the attack", she cried bitterly.
"Take out your locket of Swami and put it round his neck." It was the only advice I could offer her. The locket was tied round the child's neck and a tearful mother prayed fervently:
"O Baba, Baba, please, protect my child."
We huddled ourselves in the middle of the room and waited for the inevitable, each absorbed in his or her own thoughts. I had prepared myself mentally to die and now my only wish was to think of Swami when I might be breathing my last. "It's only a matter of a few minutes", I reassured myself, "and then everything will be over."
There was a deafening noise as the anti missile, Patriot, zoomed over the house. "Sai Ram, Sai Ram", we kept mumbling incoherently. Seconds later an explosion was heard. The house shook with its vibrations, and the air was filled with other thundering sounds, of doors rattling violently, the breaking of window panes, and thuds of unidentified objects hissing and falling at a distance.
We took a long time to realize that the danger was over. The missile was intercepted and its debris fell a hundred yards away from our house. Even when the all clear signal was flashed on the T. V, I could hear the wild beating of my heart. My legs still shook as I stood up to support my children.
"We are saved!"
Vibhuti smell issued from every page. It was as if the whole book was saturated with Vibhuti. During my stay in Riyadh many a time I had thought whether Baba would care for small fries like me. This was the answer. My eyes repeatedly scanned the lines in the chapter on God's Mercy: "And how many blessings of the Lord You can deny!"
In the morning the news was confirmed that the debris of the Scud missile had fallen on an insurance office building, not very far from our house.
Back in India, after twenty seven days, a smiling Lord at Prasanthi Nilayam confirmed how His blessing had saved us.
"You've saved us, Swami", I blurted out.
"I've saved all", He said with a twinkle in His eyes.
"But we were very much afraid."
Fear is weakness
“Fear is weakness” Those merciful words reverberated in my heart, pounding into me the need to strengthen my belief, and to realise how each experience is a gift of Grace purifying life that has to be lived with faith, firm and unflinching. Once more my Divine Lord has filled my heart with the Quranic wisdom.
Verily those who say “Our Lord is God”, And remain firm (On that path), On them shall be no fear, Nor shall they grieve. - (XLVI : 13)