Bethlehem

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I am a creative writer.


My quill is free. I write what I think is the best; my sentiments are soft and imagination, fertile. This is what they say. They, my readers.


In a crowd I become a loner. I get lost. I look for myself and on rare occasions when I find myself, I try and hug myself. Then, something tells me that there is a missing link in my life. I sit alone on the parapet of our garden and look up; I count the clouds and weep. Then my Mom comes to me. She gathers me in her arms, caresses me and takes me to "Bethlehem"


Bethlehem is our mansion. Thirteen spacious rooms. One hundred years of history.  And now, only three of us to tell that history if anybody is listening. My Mom, Dad and I.


We have half a dozen handymen and women to take care of this Bethlehem and us. Times have changed. We do not call them servants anymore. They are domestic help. They have a status and of course, a salary. My Dad owns hectares and hectares of tea-plantations. We have three cars and Dad flies his own private aircraft.


When I was eleven, my first short story came in print. I did not sleep the whole night. Now I am twenty-four. I am rich, I am handsome and I am madly in love with the most beautiful girl on earth.


I write and I write. And when my writings come out in print I bounce back to eleven years. I prance and dance and my Dad watches me with delight, with glass of Scotch in his hands.


My Mom is great. She is special and great. She is extremely pretty. She is tough and staunch in her decisions. She reminds me of Statue of Liberty. Nothing misses her eyes. She always wants the best. Best of the best. I took my girl to her. "The best has to get the best in life," she said to her. Then she drew her close and kissed her on the forehead. "Take care of this crazy writer!" she said. I had every desire to hug and kiss my Mom. But something held me back. There was a link missing.


I am a creative writer yes, but I am not able to describe my girl to you. We are so very close and we will be man and wife in about three years; I have been to Sistine Chapel in Rome and have seen young artistes sitting and staring at Michael Angelo. I heard that they see something new in his works everyday. I see something new in my girl every moment.


I was twenty seven and she twenty three when we got married. We had chosen these ages. A world round trip was our honeymoon and it took us six months.


Coming back, we faced the most tragic incidence in our life. My Mom and Dad died in a plane crash. Dad’s own aircraft crashed and I was left alone to take care of Bethlehem.





""…For years I longed to hear the word "Mother" from somebody’s lips……""


And then, I found an old diary in my Mom’s belongings. I read and I sank. The truth stared stark at me. I was not her son. She could not have children. I was brought in, I was adopted from an orphanage when I was just six months old. There was no clue as to which orphanage I came from. The diary was blank, the diary was mute.


Ah yes. I write this column in this website regularly. This time the good editor has given me permission to write a personal note and I am writing:


"There is just a month left for Christmas. I need you Mom and Dad. I am sure one of you will be alive, somewhere, somehow. Come to me. Come to "Bethlehem" Here is my name and address. Come and make my Christmas. I love you Mom and Dad. Your homecoming will be like the visit of the three magi. Please do come."


*****


My dear son,
It is four in the morning when I write this short note to you.
I am leaving this note in the lovely manger you have made this Christmas. When you find this note, I will be long gone. I have miles to go. When I read your column and responded, I thought there would be a long queue in front of your Bethlehem of people claiming to be your parents. Who would not like to do that, looking at your august address?


But surprised I was to see no one at your door and my selfishness breathed a sigh of relief.


Yes, my Son, I am selfish. For years I longed to hear the word "Mother" from somebody’s lips. This was the lapse which in the past ten hours you and your darling wife have filled in. And now, I should not stay here and bluff you any longer. I have to go and I am going. Do not look for me, promise me that you will not. It has to be a solemn promise made on Christmas night. I just wanted to stay in your "Bethlehem" only for a few hours. I wanted to be alone here. And that is why I sent you to the midnight church service and insisted that you go for the Christmas Ball.


And now my children, I am going.


I am not leaving any trace of my coming and going but I do have a few things to say to you. By now you know that I am  not your Mother. I stood at your door and rang the bell and you took me in. You believed me? I really do not know. You hugged me and called me Mother. You are not a stupid fellow, I know that. There was  missing link somewhere and this night it clicked and joined.


I am a destitute, my Son and I have come from a home for the aged. From a senior citizens’ home, rather. I am very much a Mother and I have four children to prove this. They thought this home for the senior citizens is the best place for me. Perhaps they are right.


I do not know what I saw in your write up but I saw the real Bethlehem in you and your wife. Bethlehem is like a womb, peaceful and tranquil. For nine months a foetus grows without the slightest fear in the womb of the mother. And then when the child is born, it cries. It cries because it has to face this bitter world and its miseries.


You cried out to your real parents, my son? And I came to your door. I came to tell you that those who died in the plane crash are the real ones. They gave you a name and Bethlehem. They are not your real ones? But you were real to them, do not forget that. As a Mother, permit me the privilege of correcting you, my son.


The broth which your wife gave me last evening as I came in was so invigorating. Thank you. The cake she baked and the home made wine were divine.


You wrote that the arrival of your parents will be like the coming of the Magi. Indeed. They came and adored the Child and then they left. They did not stay in Bethlehem, my son."


*****


Peace and Joy of Christmas to People of Good Will on Earth
2007


""
Edwin J. F. D’Souza

Author: Edwin JF DSouza- Mangalore


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