Guest Post: Jo LeGare | Reblogged from jo’s lunchbox
This is for my three wonderful friends who asked for a story on the metro ride back home:
The morning was bright and unclear, hazy in the Indian sun. Poonam woke from the blare of an auto rickshaw and covered her ears with the newspaper she used as a palette. Stretching her arthritic joints, she sat up and rubbed her right ankle. Every morning her bones ached for new life. Every morning she repeated the morning before. She watched a girl her age, healthy with filled cheeks and pockets, breeze past her across the street. When will my people stop and notice me? Poonam thought to herself morosely. She was tired of the aching, the consistent throbbing in her joints, the dulling pain that made walking unbearable. It was as if a serpent had coiled around her legs and squeezed until her joints popped out of socket. She hated snakes.
She pasted on a smile despite the tempered flame that crept up her right leg and shifted her weight to her good leg. She learned that people were more drawn to a smiling beggar than a frowning one. Apparently a smile was all it took to make a person human.
Dusting off her faded pink kurti, she began to work.
A half day later, as the moon prodded the treetops, Poonam had a meager 38 cents. Every night, as the moon began to rise in the sky and stores’ neon lights flickered on, Poonam permitted herself 2 samosas. She tucked the money in a little green and white pouch she stole from a foreigner and hobbled to Samosa Man. She secretly christened him Shiva, since he provided her sustenance each evening.
Shiva always had a generously toothless grin, and tonight was no different. Sometimes she imagined what it would look like if he had teeth, and she decided that she preferred a gummy mouth to one full of ivory. It made him human to her, as if she wasn’t nearly a monster as she and others believed her to be. He lifted the silver platter off his head as she dug in her little pouch.
“Two,” she said as she did every night. Besides saying “Thank you” to those who gave her money, “Two” was a popular word out of her mouth. She placed the coins in his hand, her stomach grumbling loudly at the loss of change and the gain of food. He placed the puffed pastries onto a spoiled napkin, smiled at her again, and walked away. She lived for his kind smile and her two samosas.
Munching quietly, she stared up once more at the moon. Poonam meant “full moon” in Hindi, and she certainly felt more and more full. She took comfort in her name, because as much as one noticed the sun’s heat in India, the moon went relatively unnoticed, just like her.
Poonam poked her hand in her kurti pocket and dropped her half eaten samosa on the ground. Someone had pick-pocketed her money pouch! She drew in a shaky breath, her eyes on the verge of tears. She was tired of this pointless life, the mundane routine of begging and pleading for money, the hatred she had for herself and others. She knew she was the lowest of the lows, so why steal from her? Just as the newspaper bed gave her rest, those rupees gave her livelihood.
She swung her right leg around and took another beleaguered step to her spot under the fluffed tree. Five minutes later, she had lowered herself to the red concrete tile and finished her food. She was eager to be done with today, tomorrow, and forever. Not even the joy of a fresh samosa made her feel completely satisfied.
Resting her head on the crook of her arm, she went into a fitful sleep.
Her dream was as vivid as it was fantastical. In her vision, she sat down under her usual tree, at her usual spot outside the coffee shop, yet something was different than usual. No one was on the streets. No ants or mosquitoes prickling her skin, no street vendors haggling loudly for their products, no passersby going inside the many coffee shops. It was just her, all alone. Suddenly, a great light shocked her eyes and blinded her momentarily. An ordinary man appeared to her, unremarkable in his facial features and stature. Yet what made him unlike any person she had met was the compassion in his eyes and the horrific scars on his wrists.
“Poonam,” the stranger said gently.
“How do you know my name?” She asked back, her heart thudding deeply in her emaciated chest.
“I have a great purpose for your life, my Poonam.” He reached his hand out to her, motioning for her to get up. There was something about him that urged her to get up, to approach him with confidence, but she held back.
“I can’t, Master, my legs.” She hated giving him an excuse, but the overwhelming love in his eyes frightened her. No one ever looked at her in the face, especially not with love.
“Do you want to be healed?” He said then, his voice commanding as it was soothing.
“I do, Master, but I cannot. I have gone all my life with poor legs. I was born with this.”
“That does not mean I cannot heal you. I am the Great Physician. There is nothing I can’t heal.” He took her hand into his calloused hands and pulled her up. All at once, what was broken was made new, what was bent was made straight, was was gnarled was made smooth. She felt a life pulse through her body, as if she had touched live wire on a wet street.
She took one step close to him and felt her legs buckle correctly for the first time. Her eyes brought out tears and she embraced him around his waist.
“Who are you? Shiva? Krishna?”
“I am the Only God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
She had heard of him before. She was sure she even read that somewhere around her little circle, and had many questions for him. She heard he took away the sins of the world, that he claimed to be God’s son. Why would a god claim to be a human? Why would he want to heal someone like her?
Despite her internal dialogue, a divine presence filtered through the air like flour through a sifter. Understanding fell upon her as the dew of the morning and she bowed prostrate before him.
“You are the Living God!” She cried happily into his tunic. “What must I do to follow you?”
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus said powerfully and graciously. “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Poonam rose quickly from her dream. It was dusk, the pink and orange swirling around the haze like a woman’s sari. She involuntarily rubbed her ankle and felt no pain. Startled, she stretched her legs out before her. They were no longer what they once were, but completely aligned. She propped her elbow against the tree trunk and warily raised herself up to walk. Just as in her dream, she was made new!
She ran down the streets of her home, her hope in this Christ giving her adrenaline and strength to endure her sprinting. She spotted Samosa Man maneuvering through the crowd like a skilled driver. He brought the silver tray down from his head wrap and propped it onto his hip. Narrowing the distance with her quick strides, she came to his side and tugged on his arm. And that’s when she noticed his eyes.
Written on a sleepless flight.
Jo is a junior at Texas A&M University and delights in writing about things she loves, including traveling, children, poetry, and Christ. Most of her time is spent at her kitchen table writing, mentoring young junior high school girls, or sharing the gospel on campus with Cru. She frequently updates her blog at joslunchbox.weebly.com.