About 15 years ago, I was a student in Delhi. At that time, my family was in the US, and I had traveled with a scholarship to complete research in India. Though I was a poor student at home, the dollar was strong then, and I was reasonably well off in India.
One day, I was walking down a street in Defense Colony, when a Sadhu stopped me and asked me for money to buy new clothes. I cannot remember how much money he asked for, but I believe it was perhaps 900Rs [I cannot remember the exact figure, but if it was indeed 900, then the significance of 9 is not lost on me]. I was young and foolish at the time, and replied that I could give him some money, but not as much as he requested. It was not that I could not give more, but rather in a city where I felt as though everyone was out to fleece the NRI (i.e. me), I wondered if he was an imposter.
I asked him to follow me to a cash machine, where I withdrew, I think it was, 500Rs to give to him. "Is this all you can give me?" he asked. When I replied with a yes, he asked me to reach into my pocket. There was a large Rudraksha there. We hadn't walked side by side (at no point did I believe that he could have slipped it in my pocket). I was, needless to say, astounded. "Do not part with that," he said.
Here I committed a mistake. I was scared and distrustful. It was also a period in my life when I hadn't yet discovered Sai. Thinking that the Sadhu had somehow fooled me, and perhaps that the Rudraksha was something that I shouldn't keep because of this, I buried it in the ground.
Some years later, I discovered the Sacharita and Sai. Reading chapter XLI and the story "Stealing the rags," I only now recognize that the Sadhu was perhaps sending a message to me to renew my faith and to cultivate detachment. I utterly failed the test then.
Life since then has taken some turns. I've made many mistakes, missed opportunities, and hurt some people (emotionally) in the process. I am arguably less happy and secure than I was back then. For all of my errors, I am deeply repentant. Maybe if I had recognized this small miracle, things would be different? Please, friends, keep an open mind when the unexpected might arrive at your doorstep. Keep faith and remember that Sai can come in any form. OM SAI RAM