|By Cyril Vas, Bangalore [ Published Date: July 19, 2006 ]|
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". How many times she had heard these beautiful words of Jesus in her life Monica could not remember but she knew she was fond of these words. Today, she heard them again as she sat in the church attending the festal mass. Distractions during mass were common and she hated them. But her mind could not help thinking of all her children. Children she bore in her womb and brought forth into this world could never be considered distractions even during mass. She tried to put those thoughts away for a while but they kept coming to her mind again and again. In her simplicity she said, "Lord, if it's your holy will, please take all my distractions away." But her motherly heart would beg the Lord for her children. "But Lord. Do not be angry with me. Bless all my children no matter what they have done to me. Forgive them their shortcomings. May they be happy wherever they are and wherever they may be".
Wherever they are..... As Monica prayed these words, she could not hold back her tears. She had loved her two sons and only daughter with a selfless love and dedicated herself to their upbringing. She was a person of great faith and commitment. She lived many years with her husband Albert though he was not all love for her. He had quarreled with her on several occasions on account of their children. He did not show concern for her when she was sick. He had left her to herself after the youngest child was born. There was little communication between them. Often she wondered why God allowed such callousness in her husband. There were times when he joined the children and accused Monica of being outmoded. He was of the opinion that parents must try to understand their children as they change with changing times. Monica knew in her heart of hearts that she truly loved her children. She cared for them even when they had reached adulthood. Like a true mother, she sincerely wished their well-being. She wanted them to be educated and well placed in society. She wished them peace and prosperity. Above all, she wished, prayed and hoped that they would never forsake God.
"Go in peace to love and serve the Lord". Monica suddenly realized the mass had ended. She did not know how long she was so engrossed in her thoughts. Wiping her tears she made the sign of the cross and moved towards the statue of our Lady of Perpetual Help. She offered her tears to her Mama Mary, the only Mother she had on earth as her earthly mother had gone to her heavenly reward ten years ago. Her Godlike father too was no more. Her two sisters were far away. She had not heard from them for a long time. She stood before her divine Mother and prayed for all her children.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.... yes to love and to serve. The words were still ringing in her ears as she walked gently towards the cemetery. She used to go there to pray for her departed parents. She placed a flower each on their tombs. She thanked God for her loving and devout parents who had taught her the value of life. She knew it was their strong faith that had stood like a rock for her on which to build her spiritual house. They had laid a solid foundation of love and commitment for her life. She had given all she inherited from them to her children. She had truly loved and served them.
All was well until her sons got married. After their marriage, Monica's peaceful boat had tossed up and down in the storm that her two daughters-in –law had gifted to her family. The loving and peaceful family of Monica had begun to pass through stormy scenes. Her husband unable to cope with the changing situation at home had taken to drinking. Monica had cried bitter tears as she had no support from anyone. Her daughters-in-law more educated than her often humiliated her. They made fun of her and at times spoke rudely to her. What pierced her heart was the utter silence of her sons. How lavishly she had poured her affection on them. She had gone without food on several occasions to feed them when there was very little food in the kitchen. It wasn't enough for all. She had even forcefully opened their mouths to feed them. It had made her happier than eating food. But now those mouths she opened and fed were not opening even when their mother was insulted with a rudeness she had not known all her life. Their silence shocked her. Her tender heart was pierced.
Through their hard work, Monica and Albert had provided enough for their children. Now they did not lack anything. They had received good education and found good jobs and had some savings. Yet no one said they had enough. Both the sons wanted a big share in parental property. Their wives prompted them to ask for their share so they could live in separate houses.
...How lavishly she had poured her affection on them. She had gone without food on several occasions to feed them when there was very little food in the kitchen....
A small flame of fire had quickly spread like wildfire. The house had turned into a battlefield. Monica had lost her peace of mind. Her husband instead of solving the problem drank even more and ruined his health. One evening the two sons approached their mother and demanded money for their needs. The elder said he wanted five lakh Rupees to give to his father-in-law. The younger asked three lakhs to pay the moneylenders. Monica could not believe her eyes when even her daughter demanded money for her marriage. She threatened to run away with her boyfriend if her marriage was not arranged within a month.
Monica had no one to understand her. Her own children joined her daughters-in-law and turned against her. She could not understand why. Was it worth bearing children? Was there any reward for parents for their sacrifices? How much she loved them all! And what did she get in return? Are all children like this? Do all children forget what their parents have done for them? Do they abandon them in their oldage? Where can the parents go? She had only questions in her mind. There were no answers. Even her eyes had dried after shedding tears day after day and night after night. She could not even sleep. "What evil have I done O Lord to merit all this?" she used to ask the Lord in prayer. Did the Lord answer her? The silence of God was so terrifying. As Monica pondered all these things in her heart, she felt terribly lonely in this world. Her motherly heart did not contemplate any divine punishment to her erring children. She did not curse them. She asked God to bless them with the money they wanted. How could she provide so much money? Instigated by their wives, her two sons thought she had lot of money, which she had hidden from them. Monica felt she was a lonely soul. She felt as if she was lost in a desert with no one to rescue her. Having three children she had none whom she could count on. Having a husband she had no partner in life to unburden her worries. Having in-laws added nothing but woes to her miserable life.
It was Saturday. Monica went to church for novena to Our Lady of Perpetual succour. People were singing the hymn ‘Morye Christa Maye tum amchi Mai sorgim…ulo marthanv maye ami tujim burgim'.She felt she had no one but Mary in whom Jesus had given us a true Mother to care for us. She prayed for her children….she prayed for her husband.. she asked Mama Mary to bless them, keep them safe and happy always. The assembly of devotees went on singing… ‘vigna anwaranth…sukha dukhanth mai tujo adhar magthanv...' Monica broke down.... she hid her face in her palm, gently wiped her tears and looked at Mary with a strength she had never before felt in her life. With a resolute heart she decided what to do. As usual she did not forget to place a flower on the tombs of her parents. She felt they were calling her with much love and affection. Today she had brought two candles with her and she lit them and placed them on both the tombs. For a moment she wondered whether her children would do that for her once she was gone.
The next day Monica went straight to Shanthi Ashram, the home for the aged. She spoke to the Sisters there and made all arrangements for her stay for the rest of her life. She wanted to be totally detached from all worldly concerns and dedicate her life to serve the sick and the aged.
The next most important step was carefully meditated upon. She went to see her doctor for medical advice. The doctor examined her and said she was quite normal and did not have any complications.
"Doctor", there was pleading in her voice, "can I donate my kidney?"
(To be continued...)