A group of six people came to meet Baba on November 11th. (1931). Among them was Norina Matchabelli, who brought a young lady named Anita de Caro. (1) Anita was a talented art student in whom Norina had taken an interest and was helping financially. On one occasion, Anita recalled her first encounter with Meher Baba:
I had been brought up Catholic. Knowing I was about to see him, all of a sudden I was frightened. I thought: “If this is such a great religious man, how am I to behave? I can’t shake hands with him. The only thing to do is kneel. I’ll make the sign of the cross and say, ‘Bless me, Father,’ and kiss his hand.”
My heart was pounding with fear. The door opened. Baba was seated Persian fashion. I looked at him and went into peals of laughter. I laughed and threw myself on him. “My heavens! It’s you,” I cried. “You made me go through all this masquerading and fear when it’s you! It’s incredible!” And I laughed and laughed.
Baba opened up his arms and welcomed me. I was absolutely enraptured and felt a tremendous sense of joy. My whole being felt as if I was in a furnace. Words cannot describe the encounter. It was like meeting someone I always knew, as though I had come to my real home. I experienced a great beauty and great joy.
At their first meeting, Baba asked Anita, “Do you know who I am?”
She replied, “You are the source of all goodness.” Norina had explained much to her about Baba, and Anita continued, “I wanted to ask you so many things I had thought of, but when I am near you, I just can’t; and there seems no need of it.”
Baba replied, “Yes, I could explain for hours, but words and explanations are not necessary for a person who feels things as you do.”
Baba inquired about her interests and when she said she was an artist, he gestured, “Could you paint me?”
She answered, “You are too beautiful and would be too difficult to paint.” Nonetheless, two days later, Anita returned to Harmon with Norina and, at Baba’s request, attempted to paint his face. She later recollected that incident:
I hadn’t really studied portrait painting, but Baba guided me to do it. Painting him was a great experience, because I learned one cannot put down that which is ever-changing. It would take pages to describe the event of being in Baba’s presence while I painted. I cannot tell you how long it took, because there was no sense of time in his presence. Everything about him was changing – Baba’s eyes, the color of his skin, his expressions. It remains a great mystery to me.
I told Baba, “One cannot paint you because your expression changes every moment. You are never the same.”
He replied, “Yes, you are right. I am ever-changing, for it is life itself – the divine play!”
On another occasion, Baba remarked to the group at Harmon, “I am eternally happy …”
Anita interjected, “Oh, you needn’t tell us that! You must be with this face of yours. What bliss! Look at his eyes. They speak more than words – so radiant, so penetrating, how understanding and compassionate. Without a doubt, you look eternally happy.” Anita was a great addition to the group because she kept Baba in good humor.
(1) Anita de Caro later married and assumed her French husband Roger’s name Vieillard.
Lord Meher, Original ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 4, pp. 1474 – 1476.