Driving the last nail, Rodrigo Sepulveda stood up and viewed his creation. He had been at the job for nearly three days and as promised to himself, completed it on Saturday, 6 February 2010, within the time frame he had allocated for it. Carlos Escobar, his immediate neighbor and childhood friend who helped him in completing his dream project, stood admiring it.
It's an 8'x 8' enclosure, open to the roof, with a table, a Bible, a scribbling pad, a pencil, a foldable soft cushioned chair and of course a table lamp. The teak wood panels were 1" thick and the frame was a solid 4"x 4" thick on all sides. It's a 'Prayer Closet' which Rodrigo thought would go a long way in making the privacy he craved for, a reality. "I still think that you don't need such a thick frame," said Carlos patting the frame. "But I don't have thinner frames than this," replied Rodrigo patiently feeling the structure, "Anyway this will serve my purpose."
From the time, Marcello, an immediate neighbor and a childhood friend, met with a near fatal accident and had a miraculous recovery, Rodrigo, turned very religious. Marcello was the one who taught Rodrigo to become a full fledged and a successful carpenter, when he lost his factory job, due to recession. When Marcello was in I C U, a day after the accident, the doctors have categorically ruled out his recovery. Hearing this, Rodrigo sat down in a corner of the waiting room and prayed. Never in his life did he pray so sincerely. He attributed Marcello's fast recovery to prayer. And he decided then and their itself that he had to have a private place for prayer. Thus was born the idea for a 'Prayer Closet.'
Carlos Escobar saw a marked change in Rodrigo, father of five children, after he built the Prayer Closet. He had become more disciplined, more affectionate, and more patient. He noticed that he was spending more quality time in his 'Prayer Closet', in day as well as in night. Their three storied apartment block in Carlos Valdovinos Street, in Santiago's San Joaquin district, was the meeting place for all their friends in the immediate neighborhood, particularly the first floor apartment of Rodrigo, as it was very convenient for nearly three decades and they all loved to spend time with him at weekends.
Chileans are used to earthquakes, and it is not unusual to be woken by tremors and to wait for them to finish without major consequences. So it was but natural that Carlos got up from his deep slumber, with an eerie feeling that the early morning tremors on 27 February 2010 were somewhat different. He woke his wife and went to the adjoining rooms to wake his three teenage children. Bundling them out in their night clothes, he gave each, just time to pick up their immediate necessities. As Carlos and his family ran out of their three storied apartment onto the dark street, they heard the unmistakable blood curdling, stomach wrenching sound of earthquake. Within a fraction of a second, the entire neighborhood was devastated. And right in front of his eyes, their three storied apartment building collapsed.
"Oh, my God," gasped Carlos, looking at the devastation, "Where is Rodrigo?" "They have all gone to his sister's place at Concepcion," said his eldest son.
"No, Rodrigo is all alone."
Carlos, ran towards the wreckage of what was once a three storied apartment, but as it was pitch dark, was not able to know what he had to do. Then he heard a sound. A distinct cry for help. And he was sure it was Rodrigo. He was discouraged to venture anywhere near to the wreckage as they feared aftershocks, but Carlos was adamant. Getting a search light and collecting few volunteers, Carlos slowly approached the place where he heard the cry. The entire three storied building collapsed backwards leaving the front portion of the first floor exposed. And right in a corner, he could immediately identify the strong frame of Rodrigo's Prayer Closet and sitting under the table was Rodrigo, shaken but calm. They pulled him out and made him sit on a cement block. "I got up at about three in the morning, and as I was not getting any sleep, stepped into the Prayer Closet. Within minutes the earthquake struck." "It is the strong 4"x 4" frame of the closet which saved you." "No," shouted Rodrigo hoarsely, "Its prayer which saved me." Carlos stared at him stunned to hear the loud hoarse voice.
"I knelt and was praying, when I heard the rattling sound. And I asked the Lord Almighty to save me. And he saved me. The 4"x 4" frame was the only ones I had, remember Carlos, you
said why can't I have a thinner one."
And getting up, Rodrigo looked straight into the eyes of Carlos, "Just like He told Noah on how to build the boat, God told me on how to build my 'Prayer Closet.' And that my dear Carlos, saved me."
Victor Jasti lives in India and is passionate about writing short stories based on the Bible and real incidents. He also writes Christian fiction and poetry. Five of his poems were published in Temporal Currents compiled by an American author, Ms. Christine Tricarico.
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