The bell rang three times

29 July 2003, Amritapuri

The bell rang three times. The ashramites knew Amma would be coming any moment. Everyone rushed to Amma’s courtyard. The gates were open wide for Amma’s car. But then when the crowd heard the sound of excited voices by the old temple, they realized that Amma was coming via a side passage—on foot. Amma had exited Her car by Ram the ashram elephant’s house.

By the time Amma made it to Her steps, She had several red and pink garlands around Her neck. She stood there for some time, allowing all the ashramites to take in their first site of Her in two months. One grandmother who lives at the ashram, performed Amma’s padapuja. Then one devotee showed Amma a baby squirrel, which she had been taking carry of during Amma’s absence. The squirrel quickly jumped to Amma’s shoulder.

After making sure She could see all of Her children (even squinting to see the ones in the far back), Amma climbed Her stairs to Her room. No one wanted Her to go—especially the baby squirrel, which clung to Amma’s sari, trying as he could to not let go.