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.
“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 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.”
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.