We often tend to ignore or overlook the people who we do not consider important, or worthy enough to pay attention at. But only if we wait a bit longer, we can see that the most wholesome conversations are the ones we have with them.
By Joy (Sirshendu)
Just sitting in an empty old church is so peaceful. Couple of days before Christmas we were out Church hopping. Sitting on the hard wood pews under beautiful vaulted ceilings, surrounded by century old paintings and sculptures and with colored sunlight streaking through tinted windows, is simply magical.
The second church that we visited was a large grand 180 year old church. We reached just before lunch and only a handful of worshippers sat scattered around the huge central area. Some workmen were putting up Christmas decorations at the entrance.
We were sitting in the front pew facing the altar and admiring the pictured glass windows on the towers above when we heard “Lady’s hair!”
Looking down we noticed a dark man sitting just under the altar area in front of an upturned cupboard.
He said again, “Lady’s hair” nodding at me for understanding. But I did not understand. Which lady was he talking about?
He then took a nail and pulled at a mass of tangled hair from the wheels of the upturned cupboard and again said “Lady’s hair, it falls from their heads and gets tangled in the wheels“. And then he had to take them out painstakingly otherwise the cupboard wheels get stuck.
This time I nodded in understanding.
“I am the carpenter here, I have built all these” he gestured indicating all the chairs and wooden furniture around.
There were a set of small very elegant cross legged chairs arranged just below the altar as if meant for a meeting of prominent members. I pointed at those and said to him that they were very beautiful.
“Yes but they are a little small, One Father … can’t remember his name, who was very fat got stuck between the hand rests and could not stand up so I had to make some more” he said pointing at some wider chairs at the further end.
He then asked me where I was from and then more out of politeness than genuine interest I asked him the same.
“You know the other church (he mentioned some church name I did not get), I stay very close to that. Just the second house from it” he said in a manner as if he was giving me directions to come and visit him that evening. And I think if I had his simplicity I could have taken up his implied invitation and landed up on his doorstep and I am certain would have received a warm welcome.
After a few moments of silence in which he continued to struggle with the lady’s hairs, he suddenly spoke up, “Father (he mentioned a name)… that was the one who got stuck in the chair“, a vital piece of information that he must have felt I ought to know.
Then it was time to go. As we rose and took leave he sent a joyful “God bless!“ which I carried home with me.
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Joy (Sirshendu), an engineering grad, had his schooling in Shillong before moving to Bangalore. After a couple of decades of excitement and monotony alternately of the corporate world, he has now moved to an NGO that focuses on education-to-employment programs for the deserving and underprivileged college students. Joy is an avid traveller and is the co-author of the book -“Faith” in journeys: 20 places that tuned our beliefs.