A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” - Mother Teresa
It’s Christmas Eve and all should be at home with family and their loved ones enjoying all that the season has to offer: Peace, goodwill, happiness, contentment. Christmas brings out the best in us one would hope, but how often is it that our human nature bedeviled as it is with our pettiness and pathetic selfishness gets in the way of our humanity and the worst in us prevails? Charity coexists with cruelty, goodwill with hypocrisy, goodness with evil. How many households tonight hide some sadness and melancholy? How many people are tormented by their inner devils and how many cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of a quiet Christmas Eve at home?
The following poem was inspired by a scene I witnessed as an impressionable six-year-old staring through our balcony door one snowy day, around Christmas. It was my introduction to human cruelty and also to the meaning of charity, which was impressed upon me by my family. Fortunately, the scene I witnessed did not have as tragic an end as my poem does, as my mother intervened, but I wish its tragic ending was only poetic licence. There are many such gloomy endings being acted in various places around the world tonight and on many other a night.
Have a Merry Christmas, friends, and do as much good as you can without having to think twice about it.
White Christmas and the sparrows freeze On the cathedral roof cross. A girl in a ragged summer dress With a voice blue with cold Cries weakly outside the great church portal: “Buy your candles, here please …”
Inside, the gold sparkles and the candles burn, The incense scents the air And choirs sing with voices heavenly: “Gloria in excelsis, Deo…” While bishops in embroidered copes Read the gospels: “…et in terra pax!”
And the sparrow shakes with feathers ruffled Roosting on the cross up high. The sky black with not a star (All of them shine inside the cathedral This holiest of nights). On earth snow cold as steel and a white Christmas.
Little hands tremble icy blue, and wide-open eyes stare At the fat woman’s rich furs. The diamonds on her fingers cut cold flesh With their brilliant flame, while the tiny voice implores: “Madam, please buy a candle For our little Jesus due to be born tonight.”
The woman’s narrow eyes colder than snow, But charity must be done tonight, and sharp-nailed hands Extract from purse well-stuffed, a few coppers Carefully counted so that the sum is right To pay for a candle proferred hopefully By a small girlish hand, outside the cathedral.
A snaky eye, alert, observes from inside the church And a harsh voice commands all strident: “How dare you, worthless urchin, How come you choose this holy spot to sell unworthy candles? Away, begone, there’s plenty a blessed candle In the church for all the faithful to buy…”
With slow dragging steps in snow she goes away, The candles such a heavy load on childish shoulders. How will she tell him yet again, The candles are not sold, even on this day? Her tears, the only thing hot in her body Roll down frigid cheeks and fall on snow to freeze.
A sparrow totters and falls from high up To lie dead in front of the cathedral’s closed doors. A girl child further down stumbles, falls Under her load and gratefully expires, freezing in the snow While dreaming of warm grates and a full belly. White Christmas so picturesque, outside the cathedral…
Inside, the choir sings, the gold and silver sparkle, Hundred of candles burn like stars. and incense smokes The atmosphere redolent with a hundred perfumes. The fat ladies are too warm under their furs And the deacon smiles contentedly for His candles are all sold and his alms box is full…
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.