Belle of India
by Pat Guy
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Awake, eyes wide open, Kristin knew sleep would not come.
What’s the use? she sighed to herself as she tried to get comfortable in the strange bed. It had been a long and exhausting journey, and her never-ending thoughts continued going around in circles…..
Was she qualified? …Yes. (trying to reassure herself)
Did God work this out?…Yes. (trying to gain some courage)
Do I want to do this? … I don’t know… now. (it’s too late)
Tears of doubt trickled down her temples as she fought back the fear that had reared its ugly head - an old enemy of the past. And the heavy darkness felt suffocating. I wished I had never come. This is just too much.
Kristin flopped her legs over the side of the bed as she pushed the thin cotton sheet aside. The bed squeaked with each movement. Oh pllleeease, not this too! I can’t take this squeaky bed! Remembering a chair by the window, Kristin found her way to see what kind of morning this country had to offer. For her, right now, there were too many people, and too many dusty places.
India – how did this all happen?… Well, she knew, but …. anyway.
Before sitting down, Kristin opened the window to let in some cool air and noticed there was no screen. “Great! No screens! I’ll die of heat stroke or strange bugs and snakes – no thank you!” Feeling really irritated now, she was just about to slam the window shut when a fragrance shocked her out of her misery – a fragrance that took her home. She slowly sat down breathing in the sweet morning mist and sighed as she laid her head on the sill. Screen or no screen, she needed this moment.
A child’s cry and hurried footsteps interrupted her solace. It brought back memories of the many times she had cried out…afraid. She was just beginning to wonder… when … there came a light knock on her door.
“Teacher? We come in?”
Curious about the ‘we,’ she said, “Sure. I’m by the window. You’ll have to turn on the light.”
Rhythmic sniffs alerted her to the child who had cried out.
“Teacher? My name Kamala, this little girl *Bela – she had bad dream and want to be with Teacher. I try to help, but we talk about Teacher many times and….”
Kristin’s heart was off and running to comfort the little girl, but her hands had to feel their way to the squeaky bed to get close to the door. “I’m so glad you came Bela! I was getting lonely too!” She listened intently to pick up any resistance from the child now standing next to her.
“I’m Miss Kristin Bela. I can’t see – just like you, and I have been afraid many times. What a beautiful name you have. I can show you something special about your name if you would come with me to the window.”
Then, with ‘trust beyond sight,’ teacher and student made their way to the chair, hand in hand.
Kristin sat down and drew Bela close to her side while she reached out the window and pulled in a stem-like vine dotted with Jasmine. She took a long, audible deep breath. Bela followed suit, then felt for the flowers.
“Where I used to live, this flower is called ‘Sambac’ for a special kind of Jasmine. It is also called ‘Belle of India,’ or ‘Bela of India’. Your name means Jasmine. It smells beautiful doesn’t it?”
Kristin held the vine close to her own face so Bela would continue to touch her way to familiarity. She tenderly soothed the wet cheeks of this curious child as she spoke softly about the beauty and strength of the flowers and vine. And how Bela was strong and beautiful too.
Tears of peace escaped without warning and trickled once again – this time to wet the wandering fingers of her student.
Alarmed, Bela asked, “Teacher cry?”
“Yes, happy tears… to be your teacher… and happy tears… because God let me come.
Placing her hands on little Bela’s, Kristin prayed a silent prayer of thanks for working this out in her life. Her heart was already wrapped around this precious little girl.
“And nowww…… lets go sit on the bed and see how much we can make it squeak!”
“Teacher?” whispered the aid by the door.
“My name…. Lotus.”
With her best smiley voice Kristin answered, “It is beautiful too, Kamala – want to join us?”
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