Friday, December 12, 2008


The sky was a clear blue. The leaves rustled softly in the mild breeze.. People stood in groups chatting quietly outside the old church..

I walked inside.. Some were listening to the hymns .. Some praying.. Some deep in thought.. saying their last goodbyes..

There were no tears.. Only a quiet awe of the figure that lay in the coffin.. Of a life lived so well..

I gazed at the calm face.. I could see the twinkle behind the closed faded eyes. The snow-white beard still gave him that Santa clause look. I could hear the soft sing song voice so common in people from Cochin.. I could hear his soft laughter as he made fun of himself.. his ‘begging’.. He would laugh wryly… holding his palms beseechingly..

He would come and wait silently outside for me to finish my patients ..I chided him lovingly many times.. It hardly took few minutes. Patients could wait..

‘ No.’.. ‘.. Then I won’t be able to talk to you. I would have to go away fast.’ He would laugh softly

He would then ask me in detail about my family.. He had a special affection for my boys. He would then give me updates about the child I sponsored.. Anecdotes about the interesting things that happened when one looked after and cared for two hundred and thirty seven unruly boys. I would give him the monthly amount for his orphanage The Poor Boys Home run by Franciscan Brothers.. He would show me photographs of the boys.

Once in a while very gently he would talk of the spiraling expenses and make me raise the amount.. I paid mechanically.. as I talked to him. The amount was not much.. and I did it automatically as I talked to him

‘Lots of places to visit.. Jeweler shops.. Hotels..’ he would say as he rose up to go

‘.Hmm I know you have lots of rich friends.’ I would laugh..

Yes!!. All rich friends..!!.. To beg..!!.... Holding his hand beseechingly.. He would laugh his huge tummy jiggling

His Christmas cards were always the first one I received. A group photograph of all the boys in the orphanage with a simple Christmas message at the back, I cherished is cos it always was the first reminder that Christmas season was arriving

The good news always came from him.. My favorite Santa Claus.

Brother Julian had died on duty they told me.. He had gone to a bank to collect money from some employees there.. And was on his way to a few shops..

He followed the same visiting schedule every month he had once told me once.. ‘Organized begging..!!’ He had laughed..

I watched the silent figure.. so many wreaths surrounded him.. From jeweler shops.. Textile shops.. Hotels.. Resorts..Organisations

I gulped .. willing my tears away..

Piles of wreaths. Expressions of love and thanks from hundreds... People with more money than they needed.. Who didn’t feel the pinch but needed the gentle prodding of this old man who had gone from doorstep to doorstep gathering the bread crumbs to feed three hundred and thirty seven boys. And hundreds before them

The money was not enough to care for one child but he nominated each regular benefactor as the parent one child.

The feel good factor it gave made people wish to give more..

So much goodness had happened through him..

And we had all gathered to thank him.. For making us do something good..

He had been an instrument for so much goodness.. To so many boys to find a life..

An instrument..

“Lord make me an instrument of your peace.."

My favorite prayer by St Francis of Assisi..