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Mona Pinto = Ethel Anne Lovegrove

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(11.11.1911, London — 21.05. 2004, Pondicherry), a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the erstwhile manager of Golconde.

Born to Ethel May and Augustus Lovegrove, was the eldest in the family of six children. Her family-members belonged to the Anglican Church. Mona was working as a secretary when, at the age of twenty-two, she met her future husband Laurence Marshall Pinto (a student of aeronautical engineering at the London University) on 27 April 1932 at a charity-concert of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury”. They fell in love and wanted to tie the knot but received no approval from their respective families. So Laurence returned to India to look for a job to support his future wife while Mona waited patiently for his ’call’ to arrive. She had to wait for, in her own words, ’3 years, 3 months and 3 days’, before leaving England for India to join Laurence who had, in the meantime, shifted to Pondicherry in 1934 and set up an export business and made himself prosperous enough to ask Mona to leave her country and join him. She journeyed all alone and reached India in January 1937. Laurence and Mona got married in the church Notre Dame des Anges situated on Dumas Street on 6 May 1937. The couple was soon blessed with a daughter on 16 November 1937 who was initially named Judy Ann but later renamed ’Gauri’ by the Mother.

The Pintos had befriended some of the members of Sri Aurobindo Ashram like K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran, Ambalal Balakrishna Purani and Ambu. On 15 August 1937 Mona and Laurence had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The darshan proved to be a turning point in their lives and the young couple decided to join the Ashram as inmates. Laurence received the new name of ’Udar’ from Sri Aurobindo; when Mona requested for a new name for her Sri Aurobindo replied that he liked her name as it reminded him of Mona Lisa.

Golconde, the oldest dormitory for sadhaks of the Ashram was under construction when Udar and Mona became inmates. While Udar was closely associated with the construction of this architectural masterpiece from the very beginning, the Mother gave Mona the charge of preparing the bed linen that would be required when the dormitory would be occupied. Along with a small group of young ladies Mona stitched and embroidered the bedcovers with hand. Once Datta, one of the earliest sadhikas of the Ashram who had arrived in India with the Mother as her companion on 24 April 1920, visited Mona’s house and was immensely impressed by the way she maintained cleanliness at her residence. She reported to the Mother: “I have been to Mona Pinto’s house. She keeps her home spotlessly clean. She may be the one to look after Golconde.” The Mother too was aware of the qualities Mona possessed and hence when Golconde was opened Mona was given charge of the dormitory and she continued to do the work till her last days.

The Mother had once remarked about her: “She is someone who truly loves to do things well, and wants to do them well and whatever she does, she does lovingly and very well.” And in one of her birthday cards to Mona, the Mother wrote: “Here is one more occasion to tell you physically what I tell you so often when we meet in the night. How much I appreciate the quality of your work and how much I rely on your faithful steadiness. We are very close inside although we meet rarely outside, but my love and blessings are always with you.”

 

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