I was in my home town , Mangalore, after ten long years. However, for Christmas and New Year… Yes, it was after thirty-three long, long years! In those days, we would have the mid-night Mass on 24th and 31st. Now, the Mass is held early… The mid-night Mass is all over before 9.30; latest, by 10!
On the 24th night, I was really excited to attend the Christmas Mass. I was dressed in my Christmas best… and, the open-air Service made me a lot nostalgic. The arrangements were outstanding, the choir was brilliant… and, the sermon was just hypnotizing. When it all ended, I felt a lot good and happy… Happy that I was there after so many years! My mom was so happy that she kept introducing me - her ‘good’ son – to all and sundry: “This is my son, Gerry”!
So, on the 31st night, I was equally excited. I had kept my suit ready… and, just a couple of hours… we would be out for the New-Year-Special Mass!
And, just when there was an hour left to leave, Rita, my cousin from Delhi, her little son Sunny and her father-in-law – all of them arrived with seven bags and the un-confirmed train-tickets! The train was to leave Mangalore at 8.30. I saw anxiety writ-large on the face of the elderly man, Rita’s father-in-law. They were strangers in this city… and, it was night… There were so many heavy bags to carry and, above all, the tickets were not confirmed, yet. I instantly decided to skip the New-Year Mass which I was so excited about. I decided to accompany them. Rita said, “No Gerry, don’t bother; we will manage.”
But, I knew, I shouldn’t leave them alone… in such situation.
I called for a vehicle, and loaded their entire luggage… and then we proceeded to the Station to reach there at least an hour before. There, as Rita and her father-in-law focused on their tickets, I handled their luggage and little son. Finally, the tickets issue was solved… and I saw a great sigh of relief on their faces. There were no porters to carry those heavy bags. So, from one platform to another – for quite a long distance that was – those bags had to be carried. I made two trips to carry them, while the elderly man and Rita managed the lighter ones.
I was there with them
till the train left sharp at 8.30 that night.
Both the elderly man and my cousin Rita
saw me till the door for the parting hug.
I could feel the pounding of their hearts…
and hear what they wanted to say!
When I reached home, my mom was already home… The Mass was over.
“Sorry mom, I could not attend the New-Year-special Mass,” I told my mom.
“No my son,” my simple mom hugged me to wish, “You have already attended the Mass, today!”
“Happy New-Year, mom; I love you,” I whispered in that embrace.
The image used in this Post is by Ashok Ahuja. He is a professional Photographer and a very dear friend of mine. He is also one of the founder members of The Dawn Club, and, along with his gifted-artist wife, Sudha, has been helping me, and the Club, right from its inception.