Alex Martin made his way early in the morning, through the newly laid bitumen road to the colony's bus stop which was a good five minute walk from his home. The Heavy Electrical residential colony which is twenty kilometers away from Hyderabad was built for the families of engineers and technicians working in the factory, one the many prestigious units planned all over India with Czechoslovakian technology. Alex's two elder brothers, both Electrical engineers were employed in that factory and Alex, the youngest, along with his parents stay in the spacious and luxurious residential house allotted to them.
Alex Martin, the youngest of the three brothers is a post graduate in Biochemistry, a trainee Production chemist in a bulk drug manufacturing factory situated on the outskirts of Hyderabad a good forty minutes away from his residence. Because the general shift starts at seven in the morning, he had to catch the first bus which starts at six. The early morning walk towards the bus stop, Alex felt in the beginning was a painful process, but within few days started liking the cool breeze, the greenery and identifies the different birds by their songs, which are abundant in the unpolluted atmosphere of the colony.
The colony has few occupants and one such was the corner house near to the bus stop. This house with a green gate and a well maintained garden, has a big neem tree right opposite, where Aex waits for the bus.
He noticed that if he arrives just before five thirty five he could hear the beautiful songs of Jim Reeves from the kitchen. And what he cannot understand is that just as the song, 'We thank Thee' is being played it is abruptly switched off exactly at five fifty.
Alex is in the bulk drug industry which is the fastest growing industry in India and its products are exported to nearly all the countries around the world and due to the firece competition, the industry is forever improving their profit margins by cutting costs, either in the purchase or in the manufacturing process. And to Alex's consternation he and his other seven colleagues have been asked to take a crash course in computers, as their factory is on the threshold of computerizing the entire manufacturing process.
Because the one year full time computer course is very expensive, the management insisted that its employees sign a bond to work for two years in the same pay scales. Experienced production chemists are much in demand and Alex's seven colleagues have already resigned and joined a rival company leaving him in a dilemma of whether he has to resign or continue.
The management had given Alex one month time to decide and the deadline was on Monday the 3rd July 1989. Walking on that day, from his house to the bus stop Alex was still undecided on whether to join the new company with a five fold salary increase or get trained and work for two more years in the present unit with no assurance of salary hike.
The morning was chilly and Alex was glad that he wore his windcheater and thrusting his hands deep in its pockets was deep in his thoughts when he heard above the singing of the birds, the beautiful rich voice of Jim Reeves from the corner house. As soon as he reached the neem tree the song was switched off abruptly, disappointing him. Standing under the neem tree Alex looked at his watch and seeing that it was five fifty, had the overwhelming desire to pray. Bowing his head he prayed. A silent prayer for the wonderful day and asking God's help in taking the right decision and the strength to face the unknown and divine help for the future.
After saying his prayers he opened his eyes and felt immense joy and peace and had that feeling that God had answered his prayers. Going to his factory he signed the bond to work for two more years without a salary rise and joined the computer course.
It was on 15th August 1989, India's Independence Day and a holiday, that Alex as he was walking to his home, came across that corner house where he used to hear the Jim Reeves songs. Walking to the door Alex rang the bell. An elderly gentleman with a ready smile opened the door and invited him as soon as Alex told him about the purpose of his visit.
"My name is George. My wife Judy is a Jim Reeves fan," explained the elderly man, "And it is she who daily listens to it. I'll call her."
After a minute or so both of them appeared. She is in her fifties, plump, and with that same ready smile which impressed Alex.
"Alex is your Jim Reeves fan."
Alex laughed and said, "Jim Reeves is loved all over the world. One thing which I wanted to ask for a long time is why you play the same old Jim Reeves songs every day at five thirty five and switch it off at exactly five fifty and that too in the middle of one of the best songs?"
"I never noticed that," said the elderly man as he looked towards his wife for an answer.
"Your songs," continued Alex, "played so early in the morning is very inspiring. The mellowed rich voice, and the wonderful lyrics are really beautiful and particularly in the morning, with only the birds and the cool air for company. Wow, it's heavenly just listening to each and every word and I loved every word."
She laughed and keeping her head bowed for some time, answered, "I play Jim Reeves and other singers daily through out the day. And as George had to report for work at seven he likes to have his breakfast by six fifteen every day. He loves a hearty breakfast of French Omelet, boiled eggs, sausages and oats."
Alex listened with a puzzled look and nodded silently. Seeing that Judy was quiet, he asked, "But what has Jim Reeves to do with George's breakfast?"
Judy continued, "George likes to have his eggs hard boiled, and Jim Reeves does that. As soon as I keep the eggs on the stove I switch on the Jim Reeves cassette and switch it off at the start of 'We thank Thee', and the eggs are boiled as per George's liking."
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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