Viren’s day had begun. He slowly crawled out of bed. It was still pitch dark outside but the birds in the trees chirped in excitement as if in anticipation of the rising sun. Viren fumbled around in the dark for his blanket. He then wrapped himself with it and stepped out into the piercing cold. As the new dawn was about to creep in, he picked up his pail and hurried to the public water taps at the back of the chawl where he lived. Water was scarce and he knew he had to hurry. He darted through the inner lanes and silently prayed that there would not be too much of a crowd.
Viren walked round the last corner and heard the familiar high pitched screams of Parul and Shanthi as they hurled insults at each other and fought for a place in the queue. He let out a deep sigh as he stood behind an old man hoping that his turn would come soon and rubbed his hands together in a desperate attempt to beat the cold. A small shiver went up his spine as he wrapped the blanket tightly around his body and watched the two women fight oblivious to the small crowd of spectators that had gathered around them. Suddenly someone shouted that the water had run out. Viren realized that he would have to wait a while before the water supply resumed. He put his pail down and sat on his haunches.
Viren was 12 years-old and lived in an inner city slum. Ever since his mother had taken ill and was bed ridden, Viren had dropped out of school to help his father who was a carpenter. Life was tough and the money was slow, especially since Viren had a younger brother and sister to take care of as well. But this morning despite everything, Viren had a smile on his face as he thought about the ‘incident’ that had occurred last evening. He had made a new resolution yesterday and he was all excited about it.
Last evening an affluent customer had walked into his father’s workshop. He had brought along his son who was around Viren’s age. The customer had caught Viren staring at his son’s new leather shoes and had lashed out in anger.
Viren had tried to mumble an explanation through his shock, “But sir, I didn’t…”
“Quiet! Don’t you dare back answer me you miserable beggar. A poor carpenter’s son yet with dreams like a king..Huh!”
Viren had been upset and his eyes had brimmed up with tears. He had run to Raju ayya (Pastor Raju) his friend who always had a word of comfort for him and had burst into tears, “…Why do I have to be a poor carpenter’s son? Last year we could not even buy new clothes, nor could we visit Ajji (grandma) because we didn’t have the money. And…and I’m sure that this year is going to be just the same.”
Raju ayya had said nothing for a while and allowed him to cry.
Then he had asked Viren “Do you know the Person whose birth we celebrated this Christmas?”
“Jesus?” Viren had been fascinated by this wonderful, famous and powerful Person and was familiar with His name because of all the stories that he had heard from Rajjuayya every Sunday at the Christha hall.
“Yes. Did you know that he too was a carpenter’s son?”
Viren had been stunned. “How can that be possible? How can such a great person be the son of a carpenter?”
Raju ayya had smiled and replied, “Viren, Jesus was born a carpenter’s son because God allowed it. But Jesus did not let that make Him feel small, because he knew that He was the Son of God. So he went about doing God’s will even though it wasn’t very pleasant for Him at all times.”
Viren had given those words a lot of thought last night and had made his resolution.
He had decided to follow this Jesus and experience him for real. He had decided to get back to the night school that Raju ayya had started. He would study hard. Since last evening an unfathomable joy had begun to grow in his heart. Strange warmth covered him despite the icy cold morning. He knew that life would not be easy for him. But he would not to give up. He had something in common with the Great Man Himself!