Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Prodigal Son

I remember everything about that day.

The time, the place, the weather......even what I had for breakfast in the morning.

'Stop it. Stop it right there, your memory is good for nothing Tom, everybody knows that'.

You're right, my memory is terrible, but I do, I really do remember everything and that's probably because this was one of those times when I immensely regretted not listening to my mother's advice.

'Eat a little bit more, wear something long sleeved,COMB YOUR HAIR.......DOOFUS!

I should've listened to her.

Instead, here I was at the Jalahalli bus station, wearing a thin shirt as crisp as the chilly air of Bangalore in December with nothing except for a tiny little cheese sandwich to fuel the furnace in my belly, rubbing my hands together to keep warm, looking like a complete, total, 100%, absolute, Doofus.

I was still a teenager back then.

Man, 2005 was a really long, long time ago.

The tiny tremor against my chest meant only one thing. It was time for Simon’s compulsory 'Thought Of The Day' sms.

Come rain or shine, draught or flood, Simon's texts were always on time.

After negotiating my way to the back of a crowded bus I slowly fished out my hilariously giant cell phone, and I gently pressed down on the read message button. Yes, there were ‘buttons’ on phones back then and the words ‘smart’ & ‘phone’ made sense only when used separately.

On this particular day, if I'm being completely honest with you I was not expecting anything great.

Lately, Simon's texts had shown a steep decline in quality. On valentines day his message read, "You can say what's going on in someone's mind by looking at their heart through their eyes".

Wait, What?

I read and re-read that message over and over again. It
didn't make sense. Rationally, philosophically, even anatomically. He also mentioned that the quote was by APJ Abdul Kalam. 

That was the moment I realized that he was just writing the stuff that came into his head and attributing them to famous people.

But today was different, what I read made me get off the bus, stop everything I was doing and head back home. 

Till this day I consider Simon's message as one of the best quotes I have read in my entire life.

More on that later.

I always try to end my day with a prayer.
To me, it's the perfect way to tie up the loose ends I have created fand look forward with hope for what’s coming up next.

Sometimes I get carried away in the manner in which I choose to pray.

This happens more often than I would like.

Say for example early this year on the eve of my flight back home to India.
I was incredibly tired and so instead of getting up from my bed and kneeling down next to it like I normally do, I chose to just lay there and pray instead.
While these words may not be an exact repetition of what I said, it gets really close.

Dear Jesus. 
I hope that all is well in heaven and that everyone is doing ok. Things aren’t all that bad here right now, thank you for the great weather and the mildest winter Rochester city has ever seen.
I must admit, we missed the snow this Christmas, that wasn't so 'cool'
if you know what I mean. Hahaha.
Anyways, You know I'm travelling tomorrow, so here’s what I want - Nothing big, just clear skies, no extra charge on my oversized bags, a seat with plenty of extra leg space and co-passengers who don’t snore very loudly. Deal? Perfect! 
Talk to you in the morning.

I slumped back on my cozy bed feeling pretty pleased with myself that night, almost instantly drifting off to deep sleep.

When I woke up the next morning it was still dark outside.

"Get up you slob"!!! I heard my brother call out to me from the living room.

"Why, the sun hasn't even come up yet"? I sedately replied.

"We should leave in half an hour if you want to make your flight on time".

"What"? My flight is at 11:00 A.M

"Look at the clock dummy, its already 9:15".

I jumped out of my bed like a cat who just got sprayed with cold water.

With one swift motion, I pulled the curtains covering my window apart.

The sight ahead of me was so overwhelming, I slapped my face four times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

And then I slapped myself once more, just for good measure.

The streets, the cars on both sides of the aforementioned streets and even the trees lining it, let me make it simple, everything, EVERYTHING WAS COVERED IN SNOW.
"The airport will probably shut down if this goes on for another hour". My brother remarked as we loaded up his car and set out in the snowstorm".

I looked up at the skies and shouted "I thought we had a deal"! Only to have a fresh shower of snow cover my face as well.

I called my parents to apprise them about the situation and both of them did a great job consoling me. I finally made my peace with the possibility of re-experiencing what happened to me a year ago ( I will definitely write about that someday. As someone once said, one snow riddled story at a time :)

Before I cut the call however, I heard my dad say the words - 'Don't worry son, I will pray for you'.

I didn't really respond to what he said to me as we drove toward the airport and trust me when I tell you this, what you are going to read below is completely true, I am not exaggerating this story even a little bit.

10 minutes later, the snow stopped falling and the sun came out.
It was like someone turned off a tap in the sky.

We reached the airport safely.

AND.... the departure board inside read ROC to JFK ‘On time’.

One of my favorite parables of all time is the one about the prodigal son.

It's the story of a young man who abandons his family, squanders his inheritance on wild living and returns home knowing that he is no longer worthy to have the status of a son but hoping that his father would at least hire him as a servant in his house. 

To his absolute amazement, he find's his dad rushing to welcome him back home even before he reaches the gate.

This story not only serves to remind me of the fact that home is always a place that you can go back to no matter how badly you screw things up in your life, it also demonstrates to me how God's love is a lot like a fathers love for his child, unconditional, forgiving and endless.

I sometimes look back on my life and feel happy about how far I’ve come. While I let myself take credit for some of the things I have managed to achieve, it is experiences such as these that remind me how it really hasn’t been a one-man show.
The heavens know that I am thankful to my parents for a lot of things that they have done for me over the years, but perhaps the one that I am most grateful to them for is their incessant intercession on my behalf. Their prayers have been a force that has gotten me safely through one too many storms in my life.

Now coming back to Simon's 'Thought of the day' text.

It was just one simple line.

A Prodigal Son's
Only Real Hope, Is A Praying Father'

To all parents reading this (including mine) thank you, none of us would have made it in this world without you.

Until Next Time