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Christmas on Crutches

A short story to challenge or encourage, as the case may be.

“Samie bhaiya, don’t be discouraged, God will help us,” Nina comforted Samie from her bed as her elder brother dropped his crutches beside his chair.

Samie did not reply. Thoughts stormed round his head Two more days and it would be Christmas. And after Christmas he had to pay Nina’s S.S.C.E. fees. Nina was sick; she needed injections. He had some money, which he had taken as an advance. He would spend it for Nina’s medicine. But what about their house-hold expenses, and Christmas? What about her fees? Today he had lost his job!

“Samie bhaiya,” Nina said, “Why don’t you try somewhere else? Our pastor may guide you.”

What can the pastor do? he thought. But something must be done, what else could he do? He decided to meet the pastor. The next morning Samie hobbled along on his crutches towards the pastor’s house. The pastor was a kind man. He knew Samie and his condition well. But as he had expected, the pastor prayed and comforted him. “I cannot do anything just now, I’ll see,” he said.

Samie hobbled along slowly as he returned. Thoughts were seething in his mind. Nina’s medicine — fees —job! He stopped for a while before crossing the road. But as he came into the middle of the road, a car swiftly passing by just missed him. Oh! God saved him. God really cared for him, he thought as he realized the danger. Carefully. he crossed the road.

But where was he going? He must try for a job. But whom did he know? And those who knew him would not hear him.

He leaned on his crutches. The street was densely coloured with people. Shining pars were racing by. Loud voices from radios in hotels blared music.

Attractively displayed thing glittered in the show-windows of fabulous shops. He watched. People, oh, how many people! People who buy what they don’t need, and people who buy what they need. Samie watched the crowds of people streaming by.

Nobody noticed him. No, he couldn’t say so really. Some looked at him, at his crippled leg, at his crutches and turned their eyes unsympathetically away. Perhaps, they were afraid he would beg for money.

As he was to start his aimless journey again, someone offered him a Five Rupee coin. He was shocked. He became ashamed.
“No, thank ‘you. I’m not a beggar,” he said politely and hobbled along.

He saw a policeman. He remembered something. Where else could he go? he thought. “Yes, father might advise. I’ll go right now, he decided

“Hey, where are you going?” a watchman cried as Samie entered the compound of the Central Jail.

“Sir, I want to see my father,” Samie replied slowly. “Not today. Come on Saturday,” the watchman said harshly.

“But sir, my younger sister is sick, and I want to . . .”

“You scamp,” the watchman shouted. He knocked his stick on the gate Just then a police-officer came in. He knew Samie wanted to meet John.

“Though this is not visiting day, I shall give you permission since he’s a good old man. Come,” he said.

Samie followed him with a grateful heart. His crutch created a rhythmic sound. Reaching the office, the police-officer ordered the peon to bring prisoner No. 7.

“Samie, you! Why have you come?” the father asked, as he saw Samie. Samie watched that unshaved, pale-faced man in prisoner’s dress — his father. He drew closer on his crutches.

“Nina is sick; I’ve lost my job, and after this week, I have to pay Nina’s fees,” he said.

“My Nina? What’s happened to her. How did you lose your job?” the father asked disturbed by the news.

“Four minutes now”, the police interrupted.

“Her fever doesn’t go down,” Samie replied. But how could he answer the other question, and say that because his father was in prison, they had dismissed him! He remained silent. Father and son looked at each other for a minute. Then as if both understood, both pairs of eyes dropped
They had nothing to pay for Nina’s fees— for Christmas. Minutes and seconds slipped by in silence. But sometimes silence speaks more than words.

“Samie, Nina has the key to the small box. In it there is a necklace — our only remembrance of your mother.”

“Two minutes,” again the policeman’s voice rang.

The father was silent. Two tear drops hung in his eyelashes. Samie’s eyes were nailed to the floor. His heart was heavy. The police officer couldn’t bear this sorrowful sight. He turned his eyes away. The father spoke again with obvious pain

“Sell it and get money. I’m your unfortunate . . .” After a few moments he continued in a broken voice. “Take…care…o…f…N… ina.”

“One minute”, the policeman announced.

Samie was disturbed Now he had to leave his Father. He was leaving his own father in prison. He himself was living in a free world!!! He looked at his father.

“Go, time is up,” the policeman ordered.

“No. 7 come,” he harshly commanded his father. Samie looked for help at the police-officer, but he was smoking carelessly.

“Go, Samie,” the father said as he walked away with the, notice. Samie waved his hand and watched his father disappear.

Nina’s fever had gone down in the evening. Samie knew that it was just a temporary effect of the mixture. Unless the injections were bought, she would not be alright.

“Nina, we have to buy injections,” Samie started. He was troubled. How to convince Nina that there was only one way out — sell mother’s necklace?

“Don’t worry, Bhaiya, God will help us.” Nina had learned to trust in the Living God from her devoted mother.

“But Nina, we have to do what we can,” Samie gently offered. He knew how much Nina had loved mother ‘She would not allow him to sell mother’s only remembrance. But the doctor’s warning boomed in Samie’s ears.

“If she won’t take injections she’ll be in greater trouble.”

“What can we do?” asked Nina repeating Samie’s words.

“We can, sell mother’s necklace “ Samie spoke hesitatingly

“Bha..iya . . .” Nina cried out in dismay. At that moment someone stopped outside their door,

“Yes, Nina, we can sell it,” Samie spoke with a quivering voice as he hobbled to Nina’s bed. Nina started crying. Samie sat beside her. His crutches fell on his leg. He put his hand on Nina’s head

“Bhaiya! Bhaiya! Why? How, ever can you think of . . .”

The cold evening was hushed. The silence cried. In that small house the sister was weeping bitterly as her crippled brother stroked her head. His heart too was bursting. Outside the closed door, someone — the pastor — stood beside the heart-breaking circumstances of this loving brother and sister.

Samie was thinking. He had loved his mother very much She had wanted to see her children educated. And so, she worked! lard. She taught in a school and gave private tuitions When she died, Samie had to give up college. He remembered mother’s last words : .

“Dem. Sam, help Nina get a good education. God loves us.”

How bitterly he had cried when his mother left, giving him such a great responsibility. “Nina, give me the key,” he begged. Samie knew Nina kept the key under her pillow. Nina embraced the pillow as she saw Samie stretching out his hand.

“Samie, you . . . you are not my brother. Why are you so cruel?” cried Nina pitifully.

Samie too was crying. Oh why? Why did such moments come into his life? How much he loved his young sister! And now, when she was sick he had become cruel. But what could he do? If he wanted to help Nina there was no other way. He pushed his hand with all the energy he had. He trembled. His one leg was shaking, and now, he got hold of the key. Yes, he got it.

“Sam…ie! You are a robber.” Nina cried in despair… And pushed her brother away with anguish Samie lost balance.
Thaaaaaaaaaammmmmmm. ! He fell down with a thump.

“Nina,” he shouted; Outside, the pastor trembled. He rubbed the rolling tears from his cheeks.

That evening, neither of them ate. The day after next would be Christmas. People around them, people whom God loved and people who were called Christians would enjoy Christmas.

But here, in this house. in these two young hearts, a deep sadness was reigning. For whom was Christmas? Christmas was for the rich. For the poor there was no Christmas. But yes, they had something more than Christmas. They had Christ. But did He care?

On the morning of the 24th., Samie silently hobbled to the market. He had decided to give the necklace to a pawnshop instead of selling it. After he had a job, he would get it back and return it to his sister. he thought.

He reached the pawnshop. Carefully he unfolded his handkerchief, and took out the necklace. The shopkeeper’s eyes twinkled.

“Fifteen thousand rupees,” he said as he watched it.

“No, this is costly. At least thirty thousand,” replied Samie.

Now the shopkeeper changed his voice, “Twenty Thousand,” he offered.

Samie stood thinking Was it for, this he had quarreled with his sister? Last night’s bitter experience came into his mind. Nina’s harsh voice rang in his ears, “Samie, you are a robber,”

Samie was troubled. No, for twenty thousand rupees he could not sell both his mother’s necklace and his sister’s love.

“Give me back my necklace,” he demanded.

The shopkeeper examined his necklace carefully. He would not lose anything even if he paid twenty-five thousand rupees.

So, at last instead of the necklace, the shopkeeper pushed twenty thousand Rupees into his hands.

Samie took the receipt and returned. But his heart was heavy. Maybe Nina wouldn’t speak to him now. When he reached home, he saw his pastor. But before he could say anything, the pastor rose to leave and said to him, “Samie, I’ve got a job for you.”

`For me? Really?” Samie asked amazed.

“Yes, for you,” Nina impatiently interrupted.

“Will you work as a clerk in the Mission Hospital from 26th? Only last night the

C.M O. told me about a vacancy,” the pastor explained.

Yes, his mother was right. God loved them He did care for them, Samie thought gratefully.

“This is for Christmas,” the pastor said, putting a thousand rupee note in his hand as he headed for the door.

“Thank you, pastor,” said Samie, deeply moved in a exclaimed joyfully, “Bhaiya, did I not say God would help us!”

Emmanuel Dipak, B. A., ex-Borsad E.U., (1969-70). Reprinted from Evangelical Student Nov. Dec. 1970.

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