After the church Service, the five miles walk to my home was always tedious. Hunger, thirst & tiredness are the main reasons. Even though we would have reached the church half to one hour late, the long Service would still take another two hours or so to end.
At an Orthodox church most of the time, you have to stand throughout the Service. Seven year olds like me standing still for a long time doing nothing is something impossible to do. I will try to stand on one foot for some time, so that the other foot will get a break… If we try to kneel on the side wall, there is an old mean lady who stands behind us will come and pinch us first and then move us to stand in a row straight in the front not touching the wall or the large Pillars. So standing on one foot was a better way to give a break to the tiredness.
Even though the Service was boring, I liked to sing the songs towards the end of the Service and once you get immersed in singing, Time will pass faster.
Another thing I liked in the church was a fifteen to twenty minutes Sermon delivered by the Priest in the middle of the Service. There will be some interesting stuff like one of his experiences or a short story he will describe to make his Sermon interesting. I still remember a part of his Sermon he delivered after his short visit to USA. That was the time very few people travelled overseas. At that time, in ‘Malayala Manorama’ News Paper, there appeared pictures of people going to UK or USA or some other foreign countries with a short description of the person and the reason of their visits.
I used to read those News, but I never felt jealous of these guys who are so lucky to travel to another continent, since I was not at all interested to see other contries. But I remember when I was in my Teenage, just like any average person in India where no foreign goods were imported legally in bulk at that time I liked Contraband stuff like Crepe & Chinese silk Saris and perfumes available in the black market.
When the Priest started that Sermon, dramatically he took out a ‘one Dollar Bill’ from his pocket and said:
“This is an American ‘one Dollar Bill’. I want all of you to see it and try to read what is printed on it.”
While the ‘one Dollar Bill’ was being circulated among the parishioners, people who knew English tried to read the print on it and the Priest continued his Sermon:
“America is the richest country in the world. Actually I don’t know how to describe what I saw there. Where ever you go, it is very neat. The public restrooms are so clean and nice smelling, you wouldn’t mind sleeping on those floors. May be you can compare it to Heaven. I have not seen Heaven, but still I can imagine the Heaven will be beautiful like America.”
“It is the richest country in the world. It is the most developed country in the world. Do you know why America is the number one country in the world?”
He paused for few seconds waiting to hear an answer from us. But nobody said a word. We are the ignorant people who have not seen Heaven or America… How do we know the reason for America to become the number one country in the world?
The ‘one Dollar Bill’ had almost reached the last row of people in the church.
The priest asked,
“Is there anybody who could read the words printed on that ‘one Dollar Bill’?”
One person at the back row stood up and said:
“One, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST”
“I don’t want to hear any more… IN GOD WE TRUST. That’s the key to all their progress. They give importance to God. They are not ashamed to declare that IN GOD WE TRUST on their currency. This is what I want you to think about. Are you ashamed to admit in front of the whole world that you are a believer in God?”
That’s how the Sermon ended. That seven year old is now sitting here in America or Heaven as our priest said. I was not even that eager to visit America after hearing that Sermon. But I was impressed by the Trust America bragged about on that one Dollar Bill. I never wanted to leave my small town in India. I was happy and content with what I had. Also I was more than ready and patient to see the Heaven after my death. But God had different plans.
I am hungry, tired… We have reached the end of the public road to my House. The remaining roads to my home are good for pedestrians or cycles only and too narrow for any other kind of vehicles. At the end of the public road there was a Cart. It was full of some kind of fruit. The Cart was overflowing with its content. Some fruits were on the floor. The color of the fruit was dark green. It was big and round like pumpkins. I have never seen that fruit. One of them was split opened and left near the Cart to lure the passersby. I have never seen such a beautiful color.
Dark Maroon color… Inside, it had black seeds like pearls shattered around its center.
It was very inviting…
I asked my mother,
“What is that fruit? I want one…”
I don’t care what it is, I wanted one. I am very hungry too.
That color has already mesmerized me to think it should be sweet.
“It is Watermelon. You wouldn’t like the taste.”
I don’t want to hear a ‘No’.
I started nagging her.
“I want one.”
There is no point in creating a tantrum. It will not work with my mother.
I started crying…
I was hungry and tired after the long walk from the church. So it was very easy for me to cry…
At last she gave in, but on one condition…
If we buy, I have to carry it all the way to my house which was almost two miles away from where we stood.
I agreed. Mother paid the money.
I took the biggest Watermelon and started walking. It weighed more than 6 lbs at least. It was heavy for a seven year old who was not that healthy. But I had to keep my word. So I carried it.
First I had to climb the huge bridge with about 20 steps up and then 20 steps down.
There were few more narrow bridges on my way. The huge Bridge we passed.
Watermelon is not in a bag. I am holding it with my two hands. My hands are getting tired. My mother could see it. She would have laughed in her mind.
My enthusiasm was diminishing every second…
I looked at my Mother, pleading through my eyes. She just ignored it.
Pride is something I do not know of at that age, especially to show my Mother.
At last I gave in. I sat on the side of the path. Put the Watermelon down.
“I can’t carry it.”
A simple statement…
Mother looked at me. She started mumbling to herself,
“Will not listen to what I say. Now I have to carry it all the way. I knew it is coming… That’s why I said not to buy… No way! She won’t listen”
Then she took the Watermelon. She carried it all the way home.
I know she was hungry and tired too. But still she carried it for me.
When I reached home I was in a hurry to cut it. She opened it for me.
The first bite I took, I knew my Mother was right. I didn’t like the taste.
That’s the first time I was convinced myself that my Mother is always right.
She knows me better than myself.
I stopped questioning her judgments about my Taste buds.
She knew what I liked, better than me.