Intercessory prayers at Linwood Avenue, Christchurch.
by Jasti Victor 6/02/2010 / Short Stories
It has been raining continuously and it looked as though it's going to, for some more days. Genevieve D'cruze, a Goan, loves rain, but only when she is inside her house and definitely not when she had to drive down to her work. She hates slippery roads and pouring rain and that's the main reason she feels comfortable traveling in a bus between her place of work which is at Linwood, an inner suburb of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand and her home at Riccarton. It was while waiting at the bus stop at Linwood Avenue and watching the rain drops turn into rivulets that she saw a speeding car turn onto the corner bend and loose control, the road being glassy and slippery, and hit a woman and her two boys crossing the road at that very moment.
The sudden ear splitting shout and the equally deafening sound of skidding tires, splintering glass and the shriek of the woman and the boys made her rush towards them. Careful as not to trip on the road and with the visibility low even though it was five in the evening, she reached the crash site along with other bystanders.
The tire marks, barely visible on the glassy road indicated that the car, a Nissan Silvia
had turned left from Chelsea St into Linwood Ave and had crashed against these three, who have emerged from the nearby Eastgate Mall, by the looks of the carry bags strewn around and the site looked pathetic, with the three of them lying in a pool of blood, the youngest, lying still, but it was the sight of the elder who was covered with blood that made Genevieve shiver with fright. The accident was so horrific and the crash site dreadful and not knowing what to do, she ended up consoling the devastated teenage driver, badly shaken was simultaneously crying and muttering to himself, "I was not able to slow down the car; I was not able to slow down the car."
And then repeated again and again, "God help me; God help me."
"Shh, don't, don't cry"whispered Genevieve, patting the teenager who was resting his head over her shoulders, as the police and an ambulance arrived.
"God help me," repeated the boy again.
A police officer interrupted, "Ma'am, did you witness the accident?"
"Yes," she replied.
"Can you please come with me, Ma'am."
They tried reviving the younger, four year old David, but to no avail, he was killed on the spot. The elder, six year old Sam, suffered multiple fractures and their mother Carlene, escaped with light injuries.
After giving necessary details to the police she reached home and at the door step remembered that it was her husband's birthday and her two sons wanted to give a surprise dinner. The elder, Sam was arranging the table, and the younger was in the midst of preparing the special dish for the evening, an authentic Goan fish curry.
After a change of clothes, Genevieve peeped into the kitchen and was greeted enthusiastically by both Sam and Ben. Ben had prepared the fish curry, but when he tasted it, it tasted salty.
"Mom, I think I spoilt the fish curry."
"Spoilt? What do you mean by spoilt?"
"It has become salty."
Genevieve tasted the fish curry and said, "Yes it is salty."
"Mom help me."
With a frown, she said, "Bring me a raw potato, some coconut milk and tomatoes."
"Mom, I am preparing Goan fish curry and you are making it a Bengali one."
"No Ben, it's going to be a Goan one only, except that we have to dilute it. Don't worry no one will notice the difference."
After adding and boiling it for some time, she tasted it again and grimaced, "It's still salty"
"Mom help me, help me mom."
"Shh don't," Genevieve said, "Wait I'll add some more coconut milk."
"Mom, please mom."
"ShhI am doing my best."
And after letting it boil for sometime, she tasted it and smiled, "Now it's Ok."
"It's ok mom, isn't it?"
As it turned out, the curry was the highlight of that dinner.
In the middle of dinner she had indeed made a passing reference to the accident which she had witnessed emphasizing specially the pathetic and untimely death of that four year old boy, but she could see that no one paid any heed to her talk as they were busy praising the unique and salient features of the Goan fish curry.
That night she prayed for the mother of the dead boy.
The next day, the papers screamed and the television broke the news, "Day light murder in Linwood Avenue" "Drunk driver kills four years old" "Gruesome crash by a reckless teenager"
Genevieve D'cruze, a Christian to the core, mild, soft spoken and very sentimental in nature, was somehow convinced that the driver was telling the truth that the accident was due to the rain and the glassy roads, and not because of reckless driving or that he was drunk, because she knew he was not, as she was with him for more than half an hour.
But it was his plaintive plea's, "God help me; God help me," sounded so familiar, that it took sometime for her to link it to Ben's plea's, "Mom help me, help me mom."
Then it struck her that she can help if she wanted to. In her son's case she knew what to do and she helped in making the dish palatable, but in the case of the teenage driver, God only can help him.
Then she suddenly brightened at the thought that she can intercede to God on behalf of the teenage driver and immediately knelt down and prayed.
For two continuous nights she prayed her intercessory prayers and felt relieved.
The third day after the accident, she read the news that the mother was not holding the boy responsible for the death of her son. The public were amazed at how sweet and forgiving was her attitude and it blessed Genevieve that she had been praying for her.
She made it a point to attend the service at Majestic Church, in central Christchurch, where the children from Discovery 1 School with their parents sang a medley of songs before numerous family members and friends spoke of David.
After the service as she was going back to her home in the bus, tears welled in her eyes as she recollected what all they said at the service for that four year old. But it was the words "beautiful brown eyed boy", "sensitive, inquisitive and happy", "inventing things with David", "building things with David", and "playing soccer with David," kept ringing in her ears and it made her smile for herself.
But it was the dad's words that cheered her, "I ache at your passing and would trade places if I could." And asked people to stop "judging and condemning" the driver who killed his son. He said the family was not angry just sad.
Genevieve D'cruze closed her eyes and bowing down her head, gave thanks that her intercessory prayers were answered.
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.