About Victor & Elizabeth

Victor Jasti and Elizabeth, married for the last thirty years are residents of Hyderabad, India. They have an only child, a son Roger Rajeev Vernon, who is married to Priti Salina.

Victor writes mostly Christian based short stories, poems and novels. His daily devotionals appear regularly in http://www.christian.net.in. His first poems were published by Christine Tricarico in her Temporal Currents.

They are members of Wesley Church, a hundred year old church in Secunderabad.

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Tumble down the train track

Harleigh Rose is the Organizing Secretary for the local Community of Artists of the City of Boroondara. An active person involving herself in nearly all of the Ashburton’s social and welfare activities, she is popular and well liked by nearly all the seven thousand inhabitants of the suburb.

She was in the forefront against the closure of the small police stations, citing logistics that it would lead to a spurt of criminal activities. She is also a staunch supporter of Ashburton Asylum Seekers Support Group.

Harleigh Rose, an Irish, has the same anger when injustice is being done to the weak and the down trodden as was her great grand father who had fought in the Irish Civil War. She was never tired of telling her three teen aged children, two sons and one daughter about her grand father Chris John’s passion for railways, because he felt that’s how it would take development to the remote undeveloped areas. He was instrumental in electrifying the Ashburton station way back in 1924. That’s one major reason of her unflinching love to Ashburton.

She, as one of her grandfather’s favorite, imbibed his passion and love for railways and loves commuting in rail, rarely using the car. Her husband, Mathew Reeves has a chain of high profile men’s clothing stores, situated in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and that keeps her busy for most part of the day. The store at High Street is the talk of the town, known for its novelty.

On Thursday, 15th October 2009 Harleigh Rose kept her appointment with the Assistant Principal, Ashburton Primary School, discussing with her the entire afternoon about the Community Arts Day, which is going to be held on 21st October 2009. Harliegh Rose has been associated with their Community Arts Day from the time it was conceptualized seven years back. She was the guiding force for the young budding artists from all over Melbourne.

As she had to meet and organize a series of meetings, she was hurrying back to the Ashburton station to catch the 4 pm city bound Connex train.

The station was practically empty with about three or four women in front of her and a group of students a distance away.

A young woman in her twenties was waiting with a pram in front of her, just a few meters away along with two other ladies, may be for the same train.

Then it happened suddenly in a split second that she never could recollect the sequence of events.The announcements, the rush of the train, the rolling of the pram in front of the train, the scream of the young mother and the strange high pitched voice, which she discovered to her horror, was hers’, took its toll and she nearly blacked out.

She had in her life time, seen many a tragedy as she was an active member in nearly all the volunteer groups from helping the orphans, widows, the homeless and the drug addicts and is proud of her mature, unruffled and firm stance.

But never did she see an incident so horrifying as a baby falling on the track in front of a running train. She ran after the mother, who was running, screaming to reach the front of the train, as it stopped.

“Please God, help.” She whispered, gasping as she caught up with the others, not knowing what had happened to the baby.

“Oh God, let nothing happen to the baby,” she prayed again.

The train driver, shocked, was the first to jump on the tracks, followed by the others.

“Oh my God!”

“Is the baby safe?”

“Did some one call the ambulance?”

Above the sound of the running feet, the high pitched voices and shouts for help as everyone ran towards the crushed pram in front of the train, Harliegh Rose, panting and pale with fear, looked over the kneeling mothers’ shoulder  and found the baby safe.

The baby survived.
It was a miracle.
The pram was in shambles.

“Thank God, the baby is fine.”

“Just imagine being dragged for such a long distance.”

“I think the baby was saved because it was strapped to the pram”

Harliegh Rose, listening silently, looked around the station. There were passengers around, some still running, the others just gaped at the people standing in front of the engine, not knowing what they are supposed to do. All were strangers to her.

For her, it was just an ordinary day, a Thursday. What she thought was to be an ordinary week day with a couple of appointments; one at the school, another at the artist center and the last at the orphanage, turned out to be one of her most unforgettable day.

She does not know the young mother or her baby boy or the train driver. But she did, what naturally came to her. She prayed, and that made the difference to her.

Though she was in forefront in many activities and led her group to many a victory, she never prayed as there was never an occasion for her to do.

With sirens blazing the ambulance screeched in and took the child to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

By the time she left, the entire station was getting filled up. The media and may be people from Connex and Kidsafe.

Harliegh Rose walked a few steps, stopped suddenly and gasped.

‘Never in my life had I seen a miracle happening right in front of me.’

“Praise God! I witnessed a miracle.” She whispered, wiping away a tear, and laughed silently.

“Now I can tell my children that I was part of a miracle as it happened.”

Beaming, she opened her purse and took out her mobile phone to call her husband, as she walked to catch a bus.

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Bun Maska

Christine Angela Rajkumari, fondly called ‘Chris’ by her friends is the only child of a doctor couple. After passing the school finals in flying colors, fifteen year old Chris wanted to show her gratitude to Mrs. Mary David, her mathematics teacher who was instrumental in making her excel in her studies, by presenting her with a table top computer.
Scanning the newspaper, and a couple of calls later, she started working with a firm who were so impressed with her working style, that they offered her extra work on weekends also.
It was the first Sunday of lent, as Chris, after finishing her work, hurried towards the Wesley church, which is just a fifteen walk, for the Six o clock evening service. The road was deserted, except for a street urchin who was begging near an advertisement hoarding. The boy was small built, very fair, but thin, about seven years old, wide eyed and having an expression of fear. His sunken and raised cheek bones further enhanced his thinness and the fear complex.
Chris ignored him as she was against giving alms to children. But as he persisted, she turned towards him angrily and was about to shout at him, when a tear rolling down his cheeks, stopped her. Shaking her head, she turned away in a huff, as beggars excel in making others take pity on them. Walking down a few steps, she looked back to see whether the boy was following her, but he was not. He just stood still and looked so forlorn and defeated that she suddenly feeling pity, walked back and gave him a twenty five paisa coin.
The boy, instead of thanking, ran towards a nearby cycle repair shop and showed it to an elderly man with a beard, who seeing it, shook his head. This angered Chris so much, that she walked towards the shop and looked at the elderly man for an answer.
“I told him that it cannot buy a ‘bun maska’.”
“So if it cannot buy a bun maska, why don’t you give him the balance money?” asked Chris roughly, angry that the elderly man was encouraging begging.
“Babyee, I did not earn anything, as today is Sunday. Poor children they will go hungry.”
“Poor children? Where are the others?”
The elderly bearded man with a pained look, pointed at a nearby hoarding. Tied to the hoarding and to a nearby tree is a dirty cloth, which acted as a shade and underneath is a baby boy, sleeping soundly, unmindful of the flies hovering above his closed eyes and mouth.
“Only one?”
“Babyee, thank God for the small mercies. This boy is having a tough time to feed himself and his baby brother, how can he feed more mouths?”
Chris flinched and looked away. And his way of saying ‘Babyee’ sounded sickening.
“Who are they to you?” asked Chris.
“Babyee, they are beggars. I don’t know whose children they are?” spoke the elderly man slowly showing a lot of patience, “I see them in front of my shop even before I open it, and they are still their when I close it for the night. The boy is deaf and dumb and that baby sleeps all day long, so no one knows where they are from.”
“I am in a hurry. Can I give him a rupee?”
“Please do, but take him to the café yourself, across the street, as the café owner will turn him away.”
“Turn him away? Why?”
“Babyee, they are beggars, who likes beggars coming to a hotel?”
Hearing him say ‘Babyee’ made Chris turn away in a huff. She crossed the road and walked into the café and bought a ‘bun maska’. The waiter packed it in a news paper and gave it to the boy, who took it excitedly and ran towards his baby brother.
Chris looked at her watch and as it was nearing six, hurried, when suddenly a car which zipped past her, screeched to a halt. Startled she looked back and hearing no cries, except for the smoke from the tires and the black stretch mark on the road, she carried on walking.
Skipping two Sundays, she was determined to attend the fourth Sunday in lent was walking towards the church, when she came across the same spot where she found the street urchin begging.  Finding no one in the vicinity she headed for the bearded elderly cycle repair man at his shop.
“Remember me?”
“Remember you! Babyee, it’s you, isn’t it? We were looking for you all these days,” exclaimed the elderly bearded man, very excited at seeing her.
“Looking for me?” Chris, puzzled, stood still.
“Babyee, after you bought the ‘bun maska’, the poor fellow was so excited seeing food in his hands that he ran all the way and crossed the road without looking at the either side. He escaped getting killed by a speeding car. Thank God.”
Chris shook her head with skepticism and exclaimed, “Oh my, was he hurt?”
“No, the driver was alert; otherwise it would have been a tragic event.”

“Thank God, but what happened to the two kids?”

“The police took them.”

“Oh my God. After that any news.”

“No news, Khuda Hafiz.”
“OK, OK, Khuda Hafiz,”
Just before Easter, Chris bought the computer. It was easy buying the computer, but realized that it was complicated, explaining the reason to her teacher. Chris waited till Easter, so that she can have an excuse to visit her. But on Easter day, when she phoned Mrs. Mary, she just thanked her and abruptly ended the call, saying that she was in a hurry.
Waiting in vain for another two weeks, she took an auto rickshaw and this time without calling her, visited the house to find it locked. Rushing back, she went straight to her room and laid herself on the bed. “Oh My,” she thought, “What a frustrating problem! I cannot tell my mother, my friends, and not even my teacher.”
She closed her eyes and then suddenly got up, exclaiming, “Oh My God! Why did I not think of it before? Carry everything to God in prayer. And began to hum,What a Friend we have in Jesus, Everything to God in prayer!”
And she knelt down in prayer.
The next day, she got up, fresh and brimming with joy, not knowing the reason for it, but somehow deep inside she knew that her prayers will be answered. But again that nagging thought, what if they are not?
Breakfast was a silent affair, with her father reading the day’s paper and her mother dictating to the cook the list of groceries he had to purchase.
Then the phone rang. Usually it was Chris who used to pick up the phone at the second ring, but this time allowed it to be picked up by her mother.
“Yes, Good morning Mrs. Mary David, she is very much here. Chris, your teacher.”
Chris was so dumbfounded that she looked at her mother for a full one second, before rushing to pick up the phone. “Hello, Good Morning, Mrs. Mary David.”
“Chris, why don’t you join me for lunch today? It’s just a small get-together. Some of my close students and most of your classmates and off course my daughter and her husband will be here. Hope you are free?”
“Yes, Mrs. Mary I am free.”
“Please be here by twelve, bye.”
Keeping the phone down, she looked at her mum, and smiling, hugged her.
“Mum, Mrs. Mary, invited me for lunch. Is it OK if I take the computer?”
“Yes dear, it will be a real surprise.”
Chris stepped down from the auto rickshaw and seeing a lone car parked outside, hesitated for a second, but took courage and rang the bell. Mrs. Mary herself opened the door and was surprised by the unexpected gift.
“Chris, you are my first guest” gushed Mrs. Mary, leading them into her drawing room, “I actually wanted to buy a computer.”
“Mrs. Mary, I wanted to present you with one.”
“It’s very nice of you.”
And she said to the auto driver who was carrying the computer, “You can keep that box here,” pointing to the corner table.
Chris saw that there was a red toy bus on it and as she went near to take it off, Mrs. Mary said, “That belongs to Gideon.”
“Gideon, who?” asked Chris puzzled.
“Gideon,” called Mrs. Mary and Chris heard small feet running towards her.
He was that street urchin, the same small built, fair, thin boy to whom she gave the ‘bun maska.’
Never in her life did Chris felt so stunned. She turned pale with shock and sat down suddenly at seeing the boy. And coming down her way, in a walker, was the little baby boy.
“My daughter adopted these two children. Of course the procedure to legalize will take a long time, but the judge permitted us to keep the boys till then.”
Gideon ran toward Mrs. Mary and taking the red toy bus was about to turn back, when he saw Chris. Chris, saw the total transformation on the boy’s face, as he recognized her, he came running to her and climbed on to the sofa so fast, that she feared he will injure himself and braced herself for the leap. The boy leaped on her and hugged her so tight, that Mrs. Mary looked flabbergasted. The boy after hugging, kissed her on both the cheeks, that for the first time in her life, Chris cried.
Mrs. Mary stared at both of them, perplexed.
Chris explained the sequence of events, and when the part of the speeding car was told, Mrs. Mary, smiled and said, “So you are the angel, who brought these two to us, I was in that car.”
Chris smiled and dried her tears.
“But I thought Gideon was deaf and dumb?”
“No he was told to act deaf and dumb. The more physical deformities, the more money one can beg.”
“It’s sickening to what extent people will go to make money.”
“Yes, Chris, it is. And it is one in a million chances that one tends to get two brothers for adoption. Evelyn was very excited at the prospect of having two children. We named the eldest as Gideon and the youngest as Jonathan.”
Mrs. Mary walked towards Chris and patting on her back, said, “God has a purpose for His children. It was His Divine plan. You are just like the boy with the five loaves and two fishes. The boy gave what he had to Jesus and Jesus fed the five thousand. Your small act buying bun and butter helped God provide the two children a home. God uses ordinary people like you and me, for everyday miracles.”
The guests slowly trickled in and seeing Chris playing with Gideon and Jonathan, joined her.
“Oh babyee, mera bun maska,” The booming voice startled her at first, but she immediately recognized it and turning, cried out aloud, “Javed Chacha.”
Never did the word, ‘Babyee’ sound so delightful, so beautiful.
“Yes babyee, it’s me!”
Chris looked at Mrs. Mary, standing beside her, who nodded and said, “Javed is our new watchman.”
Glossary
Bun maska: Maska is home made butter. The bun is sliced horizontally into half and butter is spread evenly and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is an Iranian specialty.
Khuda Hafiz: Is a parting phrase traditionally used by South Asian Muslims.
Auto rickshaw: A motorized version of the traditional rickshaw operated by a single individual.
What a friend we have in Jesus: A Joseph Medlicot hymn.
Mera bun maska: Mera in Hindi is ‘my’ or ‘mine’. It is just like saying “My sugar” to someone near and dear.

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