To recall it was the immediate aftermath of the unprecedented, furious notorious cyclone in the November 1977. This received worldwide attention in terms of its ravage caused and the devastation that occurred. This mainly hit the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, South India, the worst hit being Guntur and Krishna Districts. Colossal loss of property and life too were suffered by the general populace.
Having been summoned to Bapatla at AMMA’S behest, opted for a posting as the Manager, State Bank of India, Bapatla, taking over on the 1st of July 1977. Thus, destiny placed me at the hub of this devastating cyclone and its rehabilitation, reconstruction activity. Before dwelling on this mainstream of events, should recall from memory lane, the reminiscences of AMMA prior to this historic event.
When arrived at Bapatla, could not occupy the Bank House, as the previous incumbent did not vacate yet. Stayed in Brother Brahmandam Ravi’s house and the House of All, Jillellamudi till it is vacated. To recap it was an unusual coincidence that Jillellamudi Brahmandam NANNAGARU set foot in the Bank House even before my entry. By that time my father passed away the previous month May 1977.
Ever since my coming to Bapatla, AMMA expressed quite a few times that SHE will come to the Bank House. To repeat the words verbatim “I will go to Dinakar’s house” (“Nenu Dinakar Intiki Velthanu”). As this was frequently said by AMMA to the others around in Jillellamudi, everyone used to repeat AMMA’S words to me including Sister Gajendramma in her typical rustic accent. Mention needs be made by then AMMA visited our dwellings at Tanuku and Hyderabad. I was just merely listening to all others on this aspect, meekly as a mere humble being that could do little, save that of being a subject of HER abundant grace, in my youthful ignorance along with little awareness in the true sense.
The cyclone wrought tremendous havoc at Jillellamudi. The then asbestos roofing of ANNAPOORNALAYAM dining area, is shattered and blown off. Stores and all other premises too were damaged. The parapet walls of the terrace where AMMA were to stroll were blown exposing the terrace openly making the same insecure, even unsafe.
Power, water, communications, and all utilities virtually collapsed to be restored from the basics. Chaotic conditions seen all over with people aimlessly wandering on the streets, many with their hearth and home shattered.
Immediately, along with Brothers Brahmandam Ravi and Annamraju Ramarkishna Rao, senior active veteran of Jillellamudi carried some rice, other provisions in a lorry and reached Jillellamudi. Had AMMA’S darshan and exchanged a few words on the surrounding chaos. After bowing AMMA, we returned to Bapatla in the very same truck within a few hours. Soon after our leaving Jillellamudi, it was completely waterlogged with the seething flood waters that cut off Jillellamudi for outside reach. In such chaos Bapatla has become the center of all restoration and rehabilitation activity. Virtually relief organizations of different faiths, from all over the world rushed to Bapatla.
After weathering through the immediate shock, people picked up their bearings along with the cyclone rehabilitation works that gained momentum. Within a few days, almost in the immediate future, all utilities of power, water and communications were restored in Bapatla. Jillellamudi is still to be restored to normalcy.
I was ever feeling guilty for being placed in comfort while the fraternity is still deprived of the basics. Every night used to retire with such troubled conscience. Suddenly, by some strange, fortuitous coincidence it was decided that AMMA shall shift to the Bank House, Bapatla, which is quite spacious, well furnished till normalcy resumes at Jillellamudi.
This little self felt too small being in no way eligible, competent, or adequate to host AMMA’S stay and offer all the facilities for all those rushing to see AMMA in those troubled times. Am fully aware of my limitations and inadequacy to play this role in the befitting manner. Even so, it is AMMA’S bounteous grace that subjected me to all these mercies quite unexpected.
The very little that this petty self could do was to surrender all the facilities as also myself to AMMA’S disposal and dispensation. In the very first offerings (nivedana) that is normally observed by the householder during AMMA’S visit everywhere, deep within there was an intense longing to place everything and all that belongs to me at AMMA’S holy feet. Unknowingly such inner disposition egged me on and acted.
To recall, AMMA used to stroll very casually in all the premises and all over the House. While doing so, AMMA often said, “I feel free here”. (“Naaku Ikkada Swatanthranga Vundi”). Along with AMMA, NANNAGARU too stayed in the Bank House. To cherish a pleasant reminiscence, during mealtime, requested AMMA to be seated. AMMA signaled to me that NANNAGARU is taking food sitting on a floor mat, hence SHE prefers to stand rather than be sitting in the chair, which was a gentle, pleasant exchange that took place between me and AMMA. Such was the home feeling to be conveyed. This lasted till AMMA returned to Jillellamudi, to be in HER chambers of the ‘House of All’, now deemed VATSALAYALAYAM on the 31st of December 1977 night to unveil the New Year 1978 on the 1st of January with fresh hopes and renewed expectations.
Till such momentous day, everyone rushed to the Bank House, seeking AMMA’S blessing.
Even VIPS FROM Hyderabad, like the former Mayor, Rani Kumudini Devi, arrived and reached here. The important functionaries, office bearers of the multiple relief and international service organizations reached AMMA to be graced and blessed in their relief efforts. During this time a very significant, multipronged service project of Save the Child fund took its genesis here. I was ordained to play a role in such activities which even now is much valued, cherished. Feeding of all the guests reaching AMMA also started and continued.
Divi Seema area was the very worst hit with the cyclonic tidal waters inundating all over causing substantial loss of life and valuables. With countless deaths, it was a virtual graveyard, with multiple mass funerals being arranged. AMMA rushed to Divi Seema along with food, clothing, and other essentials of life to offer and console the cyclone victims.
Even the relief workers pored over their anguish to AMMA. Sparing the essentials of life, AMMA consoled them, blessed with maternal warmth, love, and motherly concern. AMMA too shed tears at the suffering and mass bereavement caused. The message of AMMA at Divi Seema, “Divinity is but sympathetic vibration towards the suffering”. These words subsequently became the keynote and significant, well carried slogan of AMMA’S thought and message in all areas of suffering.
During AMMA’S stay, used to go about my official routine, even touring other areas as needed. Those times, Jillellamudi Village Branch was under the administrative control of the Bapatla Branch. This called for frequent overseeing and all. One day while I was about to go to Jillellamudi on such duty, AMMA while blessing me with the traditional Kumkum that AMMA applies whenever one goes out, AMMA said, “Look at Jillellamudi devoid of AMMA. How it shall be”. To capture the exact words of AMMA in the Telugu vernacular, “AMMA Leni Jillellamudi Yela Vuntundo Choosi Ra”. Though taken back, reckoned that HER reference is only to the current fact and does not mean much more than that. Just left AMMA’S remarkable utterance at that not carrying it within any further.
During this stay, in some of the conversations of AMMA, there was an assurance that necessities shall always be fulfilled, and money needs met reasonably in the times ahead. In all such talks, there was a very distant, allusive, oblique references to the unfolding future and the emerging scenario. AMMA also foresaw the days of opulence with money scattered all over in the days ahead.
Realistic, true hindsight reveals to me, rather confirms the foresight or AMMA’S prescience now having gone through the happenings, processes, in person and real life for nearly five decades that followed. All that AMMA said has come true in vivid terms and total reality. That formed the experience of this petty self in personal life.
Noteworthy fact for anyone, and everyone is that the tense does not cloud AMMA’S sight or utterances. For AMMA time is an endless continuum, to the point that time could be present infinite always in AMMA’S futuristic gaze and unblurred vision. For the lesser mortals time is significant in its sequential tense. The ways of AMMA tend to be concealed for us being subject to the tense of time. Hence, as decreed by AMMA, “Concealed are MY ways”.
The future dispensation of AMMA and the unfolding scenario has already been decreed, rather settled, ordained by AMMA largely during HER stay in the Bank House, Bapatla though very short, yet remarkably significant and meaningful. This was evident to me now. Only this little self is passing through such divine dispensation. This understanding bestowed on me by AMMA, and the perception graciously caused by AMMA. This life led, guided, and being dispensed with by AMMA day to day, in all its modes, facets as also the service of AMMA.