8th August 1982
My father, who suffered from paralysis for a year, breathed his last at 2.30 am on 8th August 1982 in the presence of nearly 600 people. There were relatives from various villages, my maternal uncles from Anjar, the villagers of Rampur-Vekra-Swaminarayan, Saints from Bhuj Temple and above all, Lord Shree Swaminarayan with His prominent Saints from the other world.
I came all the way from Kenya to attend my father immediately when I heard of his serious illness. I handed over my business to my elder brother who had joined my business recently.
When I reached home in India, I found my aged father lying on the bed, unable to move without assistance. He had suffered a stroke and both legs were paralysed. My mother and uncle were there looking after him. A village doctor was visiting once a day to give him injections and he was taking medication three times daily. But there was no improvement at all in his condition.
The next day, I arranged to admit him to Dr. Rana’s Hospital in Bhuj. He was put on a glucose drip and given medication. A full-time nurse was appointed to look after him and the doctor himself visited three times a day. A Physiotherapist also was called to give his services. But still the situation did not improve much.
My father was a diabetic patient with a history of high blood pressure and he also had an enlarged prostate, as well as being asthmatic. His body had become a storehouse for ailments.
Dr. Rana, a very successful and good natured physician, could do no more for my father. He was our family doctor for long. He advised me to take him to Ahmedabad and gave me a referral letter.
Under the circumstances, I had no alternative but to call upon my wife from Kenya to help me out; my mother was not well enough to care for my father, and my uncle, who gave a lot of time to caring for my father, was also limited due to his ailments. My elder sister and her husband could not spare any time for my father due to their personal problems.
I rang my elder brother in Kenya who arranged for my wife to fly back to Kutch the next day. I collected her from Bhuj Airport and from Kutch we took a taxi to Ahmedabad. My middle maternal-uncle traveled with us. I was bit relaxed due to his presence as he had been always good and helpful to our family especially my mother.
After an eight hour journey we reached Ahmedabad and my father was admitted to Dr Patel’s Hospital in a private room as arranged by my friend in Ahmedabad.
Dr. Patel started his treatment immediately; fresh tests were carried out and x-rays were taken. A physiotherapist was also brought in to try to assist his recovery. My wife and I attended my father through the night, from 5 pm to 8 am and my mother and her brother took over from 8 am to 5 pm. A very kind friend of mine invited us to eat, rest and bathe at his house.
There was not much improvement in spite of the excellent treatment given by three outstanding physicians. I then arranged to call a heart specialist from Bombay. He told me his visit would be expensive and I already knew this, as I had asked him to come urgently by air.
I did not mind; for me, the wellbeing of my father was more important than money. I wished his remaining days to be peaceful and pain free. Even if God had destined his death, he should pass away peacefully and without severe long suffering. I understood too well that my father’s situation was critical… he may be no more, at any minute. I was quite aware of that. But it was my humble duty to do all in my capacity to make his last hours as easy as possible.
Dr. Panday from Bombay came with his assistant and a special cardiogram machine. He took time to check the file and then examine the patient thoroughly. He asked for some more tests, which were taken immediately. He took fresh cardiograms that were not proper.
There was not much Dr. Panday could do to improve my father’s condition and he expressed his sorrow for that. He very kindly waived his consulting fee, accepting only his travelling expenses.
My father’s situation worsened. I talked with the doctor and requested him to discharge my father, as I wanted to take him home to Kutch alive and breathe his last in his home place was my idea behind it. I took the advice of my Mama, [MATERNAL UNCLE] who was of the same opinion. He was rather happy to see me doing the right thing under the tense circumstances.
The doctor warned me that Father would not survive the long journey to Kutch, but I asked him to leave it in the hands of the Almighty. He agreed to provide me with the glucose drip and the emergency injections. I prayed to Lord Swaminarayan very devoutly to help me to take my father to our home village IN Kutch while he still lived.
I asked my friend to look for an ambulance urgently and we prepared to move. I paid the hospital bills and waited for the ambulance, but it was not possible to get one immediately. There was a strike affecting transport in the whole of Ahmedabad, and we could have had a long wait, but my friend managed to find one. My father was quickly made comfortable so that he could rest properly.
Unfortunately the driver had no valid licence and was driving without insurance. However, there was no time to wait for another vehicle as the strike was set to continue for the whole day. I took the risk and we moved out of Ahmedabad with the glucose drip and the injections. We were stopped at a few places, but I managed to talk to the duty policemen and they very kindly allowed us to pass through.
But it was not so easy to pass through the Bachau check-post in Kutch where special checks were being carried out by several police officers. However, my Lord Swaminarayan was with me, and with renewed courage I explained my critical situation to the officer in charge, who then very kindly allowed us to proceed.
Along the way we all were chanting the name of Lord Swaminarayan and I was talking with my father. I asked him if he had any last desires… whether he wanted us to do something special for him after his passing away. He confessed he was happy with all my good efforts on his behalf. He had nothing to add, as he was sure I would do everything possible for the peace of his soul.
Lord Swaminarayan had already agreed to escort his soul to Akhshardham, but He would only come to take him after reaching home, my father revealed. I was very happy to hear him say that.
We finally reached our village at about 12.30 pm. The relatives and neighbours heard about our return, and in no time most of the villagers came to meet my father on his death-bed. He was able to greet most of them by name.
I had already sent one vehicle to Anjar to collect my Mamas and another one to bring my relatives from the other villages. I also arranged to call the prominent Saints of Bhuj Swaminarayan Temple. In the meantime, the Saints who were in the village temple arrived with holy water and greeted and blessed my father. All the villagers assembled to pay their respects at my father’s final hours.
Within a few hours all my relatives from the other villages and my Mamas from Anjar arrived. Mahant Swami of Bhuj Swaminarayan Temple arrived with prominent Saints and poured holy water and flowers over my father. They blessed him and talked about Lord Swaminarayan who would surely arrive soon with His prominent saints to escort the mighty soul of my father to His abode. Respectable Mahant Swami very kindly disclosed to all of us that my father had donated generously in the religious field and he helped several people around and as a result he will surely be blessed by the Lord with His Akhshardham.
When everybody was assembled and the Saints had finished their blessings, my father told all of us to prepare for the vision of Lord Swaminarayan and His prominent Saints from His abode, who were on their way to take him. Our Grandfather Laxmanbapa, the first follower of Lord Swaminarayan in my village and Dhanbai Fai, my father’s aunt and a very devoted person of the entire Kutch Swaminarayan Satsang also came to escort the mighty soul of my father.
Suddenly, the air was aromatic and filled with sweet music. The mystical whispering of the name of Lord was also heard and a brilliant light surprised all of us present as Mahant Swami declared the arrival of Lord and His Saints. And so the mighty soul of Shree Waljibhai Premjibhai Kerai, my respected father, a prominent Satsangi, a generous village elder and benefactor of the entire village left the physical aspects and joined the team of Lord.
That was 8th August 1982… a day which brought several changes to my life, to the future of my mother, and the entire village.
Thousands of people attended my father’s funeral where it was confirmed that flowers from the other world were seen cascading over the dead body of my father and music of the eternal pervaded the atmosphere. I was proud to be born to a father of high caliber.
Early in the morning, I received the shocking news from Kenya that a rebel coup had toppled the peaceful government of President Moi and the army had taken over. Shops and houses of Indians were being looted in broad daylight as law and order in the country broke down. A hazardous coup had taken over. That was the other event of 8th August 1982 that touched my life.
The rest of my family was in Kenya and my elder brother was there looking after things. But my youngest son’s passport was jointly with my wife’s, and she was now with me in India. What if Indians were forced to leave the country? That had happened in Uganda. What would happen to the young boy? I left it to Lord Swaminarayan. I prayed to Him to do what was necessary and then took part in the funeral rites of my father, no longer with us.
I had lost the Elder, the father who had a very soft spot for me. The father who at times was very strict and could even seem harsh, but there was nothing bad in his heart. I was happy that his mighty soul had been taken care of by Lord Swaminarayan.
The news that everything in Kenya was stable again after a couple of days made me thank my Lord with all of my heart. President Moi was safe and back in power again.