It was June 2009, a wet Saturday morning. My wife and I who were homeward bound from Upper Manhattan area decided to take a taxi back because of the prevailing weather condition. It did not take us long to flag a taxi down.
The taxi was driven by Oswin De Souza, as per his identity card. Having known and sailed with many De Souzas I assumed he was from India too.
Hesitantly I asked Oswin, if his origin was India? He chuckled and said, “My ancestors were from India but I was born and brought-up in Guyana.” I asked him, “How long have you been in the U.S.?”
He replied, “Not very long, about two and a half years,”... and continued: My wife’s sister and family have been here for over fifteen years and are doing quite well. It was my sister- in-law who sponsored us to the USA.”
When we arrived at our destination I made payment assuring him of future business. Thereafter, I hired his taxi many times, the last time being a round trip to JFK Airport. It was during this time he narrated his heartrending story.
The narration in his words went like this:
I am depressed -- very depressed over the loss of large amount of money and belongings. He paused for a moment and said…I don’t know why I am pouring out my heart to you.
Prior to migrating, I lived with my family in Georgetown, Guyana where I owned a pharmacy and my wife was a professional accountant. Together we had a good income and lived well. Our two daughters studied in good schools and excelled in their studies. Like any other parent, our lives revolved around them and their future. This was the only reason why we accepted my sister-in-law’s kind offer to migrate.
Prior to leaving Guyana, I sold the pharmacy to an established business man. But unfortunately due to time restrictions I did not receive the full amount of the sale price; all I got was 40% of the value. This money we utilized to start life in the U.S but up to now we do not have a house to call our own.
So far we have not been fortunate enough to find jobs in line with our professions – I don’t know if we ever will? Since our arrival I was without a job for almost seven months and during this time we kept spending the reserves we had with us. As Catholics my wife and I attended daily mass. When anxiety and despair started to haunt us we prayed to God asking him to help us find jobs.
As there was no other alternative, I started driving a taxi and my wife worked as a hospital attendant.
In order to make ends meet; I have to work at-least twelve hours a day, seven days a week. My wife too works about ten hours a day but she does not work during week-ends; just to be with the children.
Both our children studying in private schools continued to do well in their studies and extra curricular activities. This was our only strength.
The despair and anxiety led us to fallacies; diverting us from God. One Friday evening, I was off early and on my way home I met my wife and younger daughter going to buy fresh flowers to be presented at the church altar. On passing the shop of a Psychic my wife asked me, “Ossie, shall we go in and check out about the monies we have to receive from Guyana and also our future prospects?
The board at the entrance indicated that the cost for a Tarot card reading was $ 10. Since it was not high, I agreed and on entering, a middle aged woman greeted us. She suggested that if we pay $ 25 and she would do a detailed reading about our future, since this was the need of the moment we agreed. We even believed that it was the Holy spirit who had guided us here.
Oswin who was so engrossed in his talk had an almost near miss situation while joining the flow of traffic at the end of a ramp.
He continued: “My wife came out after about twenty minute audition with the woman. She appeared to be excited and said, “The woman wanted me to call her in three days, according to her we have been charmed and that was why there was no progress in our lives. She would pray and meditate on our behalf and clear all the evil so that we can enjoy a good future.” It was a fact that, back at home we believed in the existence of evil acts and during set backs we used to seek the help of light readers.
He turned around and asked me, “Do you also believe in such things”? “No I don’t, but some people back home, do,"I said.
Coming back to his story: he said, “I asked my wife,”Charmed by whom?” she said,” the psychic described a woman, as one of our relations back home!”
We go to church, pray and at the same time indulge in such things. I don’t know how strong our faith in God was?
Nevertheless, I advised my wife that since the woman had asked her to call in three days she would probably give a long story and charge us still more, therefore to refrain from making commitments.
A few days later the woman called my wife and wanted to meet her.
Now begins the real story; the woman had asked her to pay $ 3900 in order to clear all evil and bring prosperity to the family. My question was why $ 3,900? It seemed too high.
However I told my wife to offer only 50% of the fee and the balance two months later. When this was conveyed to her she had asked for $ 2000, which we paid from the little savings we had. Thereafter, she had told my wife to keep in touch and call her almost every day.
After about three weeks I had some good news from Guyana; the guy who owed me money promised to send another part of the balance and meanwhile my elder daughter got admission to College. Every time things happened my wife kept the woman updated and with this she kept pressurizing us for her balance payment.
With the balance paid, a big portion of the money received was gone.
I observed that, each time we made a payment she did not handle the cash but asked us to place the money inside the holy Bible, after which she would write down the page and tell us to read it when we got back home.
Every time we met her, she told us that we should have faith in God… and in her. We were so taken up by her actions that we kept following her advice precisely.
One day when my wife and I went to meet her, she mentioned that she had removed the evil spirits that were troubling us and in order to keep the spirit completely away, she had spent money making offerings at the temple, and requested that we reimburse her for it. When asked how much she calmly said,” Six thousand three hundred dollars."
I thought this was ridiculous! How were we to raise this kind of money?
Since we were now in her control, we asked her time to make the payment.She said it is necessary to do few more things to prevent the evil spirit from getting back to us and put the misery back into our lives. Prior to start on the final part of her work; she needs the payment. As we did not have money to pay, my wife suggested we keep our jewelry as security – and we did just that!
Subsequently, we were able to find funds by borrowing locally and from a friend in Guyana. After paying her we asked for our jewelry. She then insisted that the evil in the jewelry had to be cleaned before she could give it to us and she was in the process of doing it.
My wife kept pressurizing her for the jewelry, but she would advise us not to go after mere material things but have faith in God…and in her, she also mentioned how Moses got angry seeing his people worshipping a cow made of gold.
The most shocking part came finally! When I was returning home one evening I saw a poster on the door of her home indicating that the place was available on rent.
Curious, I went closer to find the place empty and the notice from the Marshall indicated that she had been ejected on a court order. This came as a shock to me as we had only her hand phone number to make contact with. I rushed home and informed my wife suggesting that she should call her immediately. The woman answered the phone saying there was a funeral in the family and would return the jewelry in a week.
My wife kept calling her continuously, she answered the phone on the first two days and thereafter the phone was directed to voice mail. One week later we found the phone to be disconnected.
Now where were we to look for Madame Rose???? The person who we thought was our savior!
This was the end of a heartbreaking story.
Deceit: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all the time. – Lincoln.
(All the characters portrayed in ‘Deceit In The Name Of Salvation’ are real but pseudonyms have been used to protect their privacy.)
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