Letting go and laughing

15 December 2001, Amritapuri

On Onam, Ram found Mother’s hand-washing basin on the table beside Her and proceeded to snort up a trunkful, spraying water onto everyone in the vicinity. He certainly delighted in the laughter and attention that ensued; but what he didn’t know was that he was actually beginning a new chapter in his life at Amritapuri.

The very next night, and every night since then that he has had playtime with Mother, he has had another chance to play with water.

The first time (after the Onam event) was, for the spectators, perhaps a bit disappointing. He drank from the plastic basin Mother held for him, but that’s about all. Everyone expected to see him spray, as he had done the day before. But he wasn’t in the mood. So Mother turned the tables on him: She took the bowl and emptied it on his trunk! Laughter all around!

Since then, each night has had its own variation: sometimes Mother has only Her own water basin for cleaning up after hand-feeding him payasam (rice pudding). This water is sweet; he likes to keep it to himself. But most times, there is a big bowl of fresh water. Ram might drink it all up in one go, and then Mother will quickly refill it from a nearby bucket. Again. And again!

One recent Monday night, She had a big bucket of water and a plastic mug, the same sort of combination most people here use for bathing. And bathing was, apparently, Her plan: one mugful after another She hurled at Ram who, at first, ran to the far corner of their play area, as if cowering, but soon came back close for more of the refreshing pleasure of being washed by his own Mother.

Bathing wasn’t the only pursuit that Monday night, however. Ram decided on a new game: put the trunk into the mug (a fairly close fit) and blow bubbles! That was a big hit, with Mother and everyone around jumping and laughing. But then the mug was empty, and before Amma could reach the bucket and refill it, Ram’s trunk had found the bucket and was flapping around inside, splashing noisily.

Mother filled the mug, tossed the contents on Ram’s massive baby forehead…and suddenly found his trunk slithering down along Her wrist till he reached the mug. He curled his trunk right around the mug and swept it from Her grip! Astonishment and feigned consternation played across Mother’s face, and all the watchers were laughing again-whether at Her expressions or his behaviors, only they know!

This night, like so many others, was filled with laughter as the two, Mother and son, played at whatever happened to present itself.

It’s true that Ram came expecting biscuits, and that Mother brought water expecting him to spray. But if, upon seeing no biscuits, Ram had hung his head in dull disappointment, or if, when Ram didn’t spray the water, Amma had sulked and retreated to Her room, then think of all the laughter lost!

Mother doesn’t tell us not to plan events, nor even not to have expectations. It’s not the planning nor the hoping that creates problems for us, but our attachment to those plans and hopes.

Ram and Mother are showing us how to let go of these attachments, how to be in the present moment; how to laugh more.