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Chapter 28: A Silent Waiting Heart

“Because,” she said, “Ramakrishna cannot die - at least for me. He may have died for you; to me it is impossible because to me his physical body became irrelevant long before. His presence and the experience, the fragrance, have become a reality - and they are still with me. And until they leave me I am not going to break my bangles or cut my hair or do anything - because to me he is still alive.”

People thought that she had gone mad: “The shock seems to be too much - not a single tear.” Even when Ramakrishna’s body was taken to the burning place she did not come out of the home. She was preparing food for Ramakrishna. The man was dead - his body has been carried to the crematorium - and she was preparing food because it was his lunch time.

And somebody told her, “Sharda, are you mad? They have taken his body.”

She laughed and she said, “They have taken his body but they have not taken his presence; that has become part of my being. And I am not mad. In fact by dying he has given me an opportunity to know whether his teaching has entered my heart or not.”

She lived for many years afterwards, but every day the same routine: twice a day she would prepare food, and - as the old Hindu wife sits by the side of the husband while he is eating, fanning him - she would fan an empty seat. Ramakrishna was not there - at least for those who can see only the physical. And she would talk and gossip about what has happened in the neighborhood. She would give all the news the way she always used to give it. In the evening, again the meal; in the night she would prepare his bed, take care of the mosquito net that not even a single mosquito was inside, touch his feet - which were only visible for her, for nobody else - put the light off and go to sleep.

And in the morning in the same way as she used to wake him up, she would come and say, “Paramahansadeva, get up; it is time. Your disciples are gathering outside and you have to prepare - take a bath, a cup of tea.” Slowly, slowly the people who were more of the heart, not of the mind, started feeling that there was no symptom of madness in Sharda. On the contrary - but because of Ramakrishna they had never thought about her; she was always behind.

But now Ramakrishna was gone and she was the oldest companion. They started asking advice, and her advice was so perfect on every matter that it was impossible that she is mad.

But as far as Ramakrishna was concerned, she continued to feel his presence to the last breath of her life. Before dying.that was the only time that she started crying. And somebody said, “You didn’t cry when Ramakrishna died. Why are you crying?”

She said, “I am crying because now who will take care, who will prepare the food? Nobody knows what he likes, what he does not like. Who will make his bed? And the place is so full of mosquitoes that if the mosquito net is not put rightly, if just a small place is available for mosquitoes to enter, the old man will suffer the whole night - and I am dying. I will not be here. And you all think he is dead, so I cannot rely on you.”

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