Harry looked at Mungal with a mixture of envy and admiration. “Just imagine he (pointing to Mungal) went to the same school as me. He was in a much higher class than me ‘cause he was bout two years older than me and I used to skip school to help me father in the garden.” Harry’s wife looked at Mungal and saw no similarity between this man and her husband.. He went on: “We used to play cricket in the grounds near the old school and catch fish in the river near the dam.” Girlee listened to this episode of her husband’s past with just passing interest, finding it a little difficult to bring the two people together in her mind.
Sensing his wife’s lack of interest, Harry turned his attention to the mountains. The brilliant sunshine provided a blue-grey haze, causing his eyes to swim in a swirling mist. He rubbed his eyes to enable him to see through this shimmering light. He realized swirls of smoke were wafting their way up from different sources, reducing the mountain to a vast area of smoke signals He remembered coming here as a boy and watching these very mountains, beautifully green in all their splendour . The pink and gold poui trees decorating the magnificent scene before him, left him with a sense of wonder.
”Lord, what I doin here?” he thought. The chatter around him seemed to numb his senses and he glanced away from the mountain and threw his eye on Girlee, who was in rapt conversation with Dulcie. Snatches of conversation found their way to him. He could hear “make a difference”, “more and more people”, “you’ll hear for yuhself”. “Just think,” Harry was musing, “I woulda been with the fellas and dem in de bar, having a good time, drinking and playing all fours.” “One stupid promise because I ent take her to the cricket match between West Indies vs. India and all she friends went.”
There was no escape now. He just had to bide his time and wait for the whole affair to come to an end. A flurry of activity on the stage caught his attention: electronic paraphernalia was being set up, three microphones placed about two feet apart somewhere in the center of the stage. Mungal himself was giving directions to some young men and young women, looking trim and fashionable, who were beginning to hand out leaflets and song sheets. More chairs were being brought in and set in positions towards the front and Harry found himself being taken in with these people who seemed to move with a sense of purpose. Only gardening brought about this seriousness of purpose where he came from. It was his livelihood and that of the people he lived among and worked among. You could go to any Government office and everyone took his time – to talk, to answer the telephone or to walk from one part of the office to another, unhurried.
The size of the tent covered an area large enough to accommodate over two thousand people. They were being ushered to the front so that late-comers could more easily get in without disturbing those in front. Suddenly a hush, a whisper of the name of Jesus, found its way throughout the audience. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” intoned with reverence came over and across the congregation. Harry had to rub his arms to smooth over the goose pimples that had come up during this electrifying experience that carried into song. He was overwhelmed by this sensation that he could not remember ever having felt before. The voices of “Jesus”, had its own musical charm, as the young men and women on the stage sang a background of inspirational songs, accompanied by two guitarists.
People were slowly getting to their feet, some with arms raised, whispering “Jesus” in the softest of breaths. Harry couldn’t take his eyes off Mungal. Mungal had a bible in his hand. This was incredible! Mungal a Christian? The two of them went to the same Hindu school, were devotees at the same Hindu temple.
In disbelief he heard Mungal say, “It is we Christians who have failed in our duty. We proudly boast of being “a Christian” and what do we do after that? Do we show love for one another? Do we love our neighbours? as ourselves? Some of us can quote scripture parrot fashion. How many practise what they preach? Harry was beginning to identify with this part of the sermon. His thoughts flew to Miss Maisie up the road. She would always have a smile for the little boys playing ball in the road and sometimes pass them some sweets. But that snooty Miss Sarcombe. She looked with disdain at the neighbours as if everyone was beneath her.
“The Christian’s life should display evidence of his faith in God. It is not enough to appear in Church every Sunday and treat others as if God gave you a superior position over sinners. It is so easy to see the mote in the eyes of others because we ignore the beam in ours. We are expected to draw people to God by our conduct, not by pulling down but by building up. We should be a living bible in the eyes of others, how we treat with the less fortunate, the meek, the wretched. The rich take advantage of the poor, paying them miserable wages, and flaunting their affluent lifestyles. The poor, envious of the rich, rob, maim and murder to get what they think they should have. Those with better jobs try to live beyond their means and commit forgery and enter a life of crime. Where are the values that were instilled in us long ago?”
Harry was mesmerized with this new Mungal. His dress, his manner, his speech, his intonation, were all different. He listened as Mungal’s voice rose to a crescendo and then softened. “If God is in us we are a new creation; old things have passed away and have become new.” “We must get rid of the pettiness, the backbiting, the anger and the hate, the envy and the slander and look for that good in others that Christ saw in the sinners he was accused of consorting with.”
When the call came for those who wanted to give themselves to Christ, to be born again, Harry found himself moving along with dozens of people, Girlee in his wake. There was this sense of renewal and feeling of peace that accompanied Harry when he left with Girlee that evening. As they talked about their experience on their return home, Harry chuckled to Girlee, “Yuh know I feel real happy when Mungal say, ‘Brother Harry, I’m so glad you came. May God richly bless you.” “So what you goin’ to tell you pardners and dem when we reach back?” Girlee questioned. “Who, me? Dem eh seein’ me. I is a new creation. I want you to teach me to read the Bible. I like when Mungal read “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matt.21:22) and “for all things are possible with God.” (Mk.10:27). Girlee couldn’t believe her ears. “Yes,” she breathed, “nothing is impossible with God.”
Quotes taken from “Revised Standard Version”
Phyllis M. Inniss
7th Oct. 2006
I loved this piece! Especially liked the dialect, it made the piece seem real and intersting. The message of your writing was clear. I noticed a period left out at the end of a sentence, but that's the only technical mistake I saw. (But don't trust me...I'm only a beginner!)I also liked the fact that Mangul's wife was saved too. If it were a longer story, it would be interesting to have her not become saved at the revival and write about the follow-up at home between Mangul and Girlee!
Thanks for reading my challenge piece, The Tongue and the Restless! It seems not too many people read the beginner's entries or leave comments ! I think we need to be read and have good constructive suggestions left so we can learn and write with improvement! InHim, Leigh