Joseph Harb had recently undergone gall bladder surgery, and Baba went to see him three times at the Jehangir Nursing Home. Herman Alvarado arrived and also saw Joseph. Harry Dedolchow and A. K. Das visited Guruprasad for three days at this time. Dedolchow asked Baba if he could go to the hospital and visit his friend Joseph. Baba agreed, but instructed him, “When you go, tell Joseph the reason I did not let him drop his body was because he did not say my name when he was about to take his last breath.”
Harry Dedolchow found this confusing and said, “Baba, I used to live with the Harbs in San Francisco for many months, and Joseph always repeats your name for one hour every morning.”
But Baba replied, “Just don’t forget to tell Joseph what I said,” and he sent Harry Dedolchow away with brother Jal. At the hospital, they asked the nurse on duty for Joseph’s room number. She gave it, saying, “Don’t stay too long, and please don’t give him any bad news. He is in a very critical condition.” Nervous, Dedolchow thought again of the message he carried from Baba.
When Dedolchow entered Joseph Harb’s room, he saw that his face was chalk-white. Joseph spoke slowly and looked like he would not live much longer. They chatted for a while, Dedolchow conveying Ivy Duce’s and all the San Francisco Sufis’ best wishes to Joseph. Finally, Joseph said, “I am tired; is there anything else you want to tell me? Convey my love to Baba and tell him that I am feeling better.”
Dedolchow looked at Jal and, remembering the nurse’s warning, did not have the heart to tell Joseph what Baba had told him. He said, “No, Joseph, there isn’t anything else to say.”
It was almost one o’clock in the afternoon, and they were expected back at Guruprasad by then, so they took a taxi from the hospital. Harry Dedolchow fervently hoped Baba would not ask him if he had delivered the message. When they entered the hall, the session had already begun, and Dedolchow tried to hide in the rear behind those who had already come. Baba quickly stopped him and called him to his side. He asked, “Harry, did you tell Joseph what I told you to tell him?”
Harry Dedolchow silently cursed to himself: “Damn it, Baba, don’t you ever forget!” Everyone in the room was looking at him, waiting for his reply. He lowered his head and said, “Baba, Joseph looked like he does not have much more time to live. He looked so ill. I just did not have the heart to tell him.”
Baba made no reply. Years before, after reading about Baba’s life and how difficult the mandali would find it at times to carry out simple orders from Baba, Harry Dedolchow had vowed that if he ever got the chance, he would teach the Easterners a thing or two in this regard. Well, Baba had given him his chance, and his failure was a crushing blow to his ego. He was afraid that if he delivered Baba’s message, Joseph might get a shock and pass away – and he would be blamed for disregarding what the nurse had said. Dedolchow discovered that implicit obedience to the Master is not as easy as it sounds.
At the time, Kari Harb was convinced that Joseph was about to die, but Baba assured her he would recover, which he did. At one point, the doctors suspected malignancy, but Baba assured Joseph, “I tell you, you do not have cancer. As a matter of fact, it is ‘I’ who have cancer. All of you around me and the whole world are my cancerous growth, and so I suffer continually.”
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 18, pp. 6111 – 6112.