Janco’s Story (Part One)

kult_model_Geoffrey_Camus_209680I’m a Literature Evangelist and youth leader in my church.  I’m on fire for the Lord so I leave tracts on buses, trains, taxis, the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, on sidewalks, streets–yes, I drop them as I walk.  Sometimes I would stand on the sidewalk and hand them out to people as they walk by.

Just recently, I left a couple of tracts in the changing rooms of a few department stores.  I’ve left tracts on the table before leaving a restaurant and in public washrooms, believe it or not.  Every opportunity I get, I make sure I leave or hand out a tract.  I take being a Literature Evangelist very seriously because eight years ago, someone left a tract on the a park bench which turned my life around.  You see, I was heading in the wrong direction.

Eight years ago I was 17 and living with my mother.  My father was a deadbeat who abandoned us when I was seven.  I haven’t seen or heard from him since he left.  My older brother, Jacquan was arrested and convicted of dealing drugs.  He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  My mother was an alcoholic.  She had fallen on and off the wagon since she first started drinking after my father left.  I was going to school and working at the same time. It was tough.  I had no life.  I couldn’t hang out with my friends because after school, I had to show up for my job at the grocery store close to school.   I did different things such as bagging groceries, stocking shelves and working the cash register.  I worked for six hours and by the time I got home it was almost nine-thirty.

I was tired but I had either had to do my homework, work on a paper or study for an exam.  I had to fix myself something to eat because my mother was passed out on the couch.  An empty bottle of Vodka lay on the carpet.  The room reeked of alcohol so I opened the windows to let some fresh air in.  I took up the bottle and cleaned up the room before I had something to eat.  Then, I took a quick shower, went to my room and spent two hours doing my school work.  After I was done, I went back to the living-room to check on my mother.  She was still passed out.  So, I got a blanket and spread it over her, turned out the light and went to bed.

That was my life.  I was tired of my mother being drunk and having to clean up after her.  It was like I was the parent and she was the child.  I was the one who cleaned the house on the weekend, went to pick up groceries, did the laundry and the cooking.  By the time I was done, I was too wiped out to go anywhere.  And when I did, my buddies complained because I didn’t want to do much.  If we went bowling, I would sit it out or if we went to the mall, I would find a place to chill because I was too beat to walk aimlessly about the place.  I dated a few times but whenever the girl found out that my brother was in prison they would act all weird and I wouldn’t hear from them again.  So, my social and love lives were suffering because of my dysfunctional family.  I started to get angry and resentful.  Sometimes, I found myself wishing I could just get up and leave but I couldn’t do that to my mother.  She needed me.  So, I stuck it out.

My mother was sober on the day I graduated from high-school.  She threw a party and invited family and friends over to celebrate.  Later that night, she got wasted and while she was passed out on the couch, I cleaned up the place.  After I was done, I went for a long walk, trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I wanted so badly to run away.  I was tired of dealing with my mother and her drinking problem.  I had tried many times to get her to go for help but she always promised that she would stop.

I walked and walked until I got tired of walking.  I went to the park which was nearby and found a bench under the light post and sat down.  I sat there for a while, my mind spinning.  The resentment for my mother and the bitterness toward my father filled my throat like bile.  Dark thoughts filled my mind.  I wanted to lash out at them because they had ruined my life with their selfishness and self-destructive ways.  At that moment, I wanted run away and leave my mother to drink herself to death.  Yes, I thought, why should I continue taking care of a drunk?  I was young.  I had my own life to live.  Why shouldn’t I go somewhere else and start a new life.  I decided right then and there that I would pack up and leave this wretched place.

I started to get up when my eyes fell on something beside me.  It looked like a pamphlet.  I picked it up and looked at it.  It was titled, Talking With God.  I was interested in reading it.  I knew about God but I didn’t know Him.  My parents were never religious.  I was always curious about religion but never pursued it.  I got up from the bench and went home.   I went straight to my room and lay down on my bed to read the tract.  I just ate it up and I wanted more.  I got down on my knees that night and prayed to a God I didn’t know but wanted desperately to know more about.

The next day, I showed my Christian friend, Gidea the tract and he recognized it.  “That’s one of the GLOW tracts,” he told me.  “I can get you the rest of the tracts if you want.”

My eyes brightened.  “Please get them for me.”

He smiled and promised that he would.  A few days later, before we went to our classes, he gave the tracts to me.  I put them in my knapsack, anxious to read them that night after I got home from work.  “Thanks, Man.  I really appreciate this.”

He clapped me on the back.  “No problem, Bro.”

I finished reading the tracts in a few days.  When I saw Gidea again I asked him if I could go to his church.  He was delighted and I went on Saturday.  The people from his church were so warm and welcoming.  I couldn’t wait to go back the following Saturday.  I met the pastor and his wife and I was given Bible Study guides which I devoured.  I got baptized a couple months later.   Unfortunately, my mother was too drunk to be there.

I first learned about Literature Evangelism from Amiri, another church member and I told him that I was interested in handing out literature.  And he helped to make that possible and I’m indebted to him.  When my mother was sober, I gave her the Breaking Addictions and Steps to Health tracts to read.  I invited her to come to church when the guest speaker was a former alcoholic.  She came and afterwards she spoke to the speaker who prayed for her and gave her the name of a social worker at a Drug and Alcohol Rehab center in Cape Town.  After some persuasion, I convinced my mother to check it out.  I went with her and a week later, she moved into the guest house.  I visited her every weekend and she’s doing well.  She looked so much better.  It was strange and good seeing her sober all the time.

I know she has been reading the tracts I left with her and the Bible.  I can see the changes.  I encouraged her to pray and I prayed with her.  I can see God working in her life and transforming her.  And she started going to church every week and it was the greatest moment in my life when she was baptized.

I’m still living at home.  I got rid of all the alcohol.  In my spare time, I do things around the house such as repainting the walls, polishing the furniture and making repairs.  I want my mother to come back to a nicely fixed up home.

The last time I visited her she asked me if I had visited Jacquan in prison as yet.  When I said no, she urged me to, saying, “God loves him too.”  That got me.  I needed to humble myself, swallow my pride and go see my brother.  The following Sunday morning, I went to see him.  He looked terrible and he hardly said much.  I told him about Mama.  “That’s good she got help,” he said.  A pause then, “No word from Dad yet?”

I shook my head.  “I don’t expect to hear from him again.  How are you doing?”

He shrugged.  “Surviving.  How come you’re here?”

“Mama encouraged me to visit you.  She reminded me that God loves you too.”

He looked surprised.  “God?  Don’t tell me that Mama has gone all religious.  How did that happen?”

I told him and showed him the tracts.  “I will leave these with you.  It’s up to you if you want to read them.  I hope that you do.  Do you mind if I prayed for you?”

H shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”

I prayed with him and promised that I would visit again soon.  I saw him take up the tracts before he got up and left.  I left the prison hoping and praying that he would read them.

I was standing on the sidewalk one day handing out tracts when I saw Nata, a girl who attended the same high-school I did.  She was in grade 8 when I was in grade 12.  Just recently, I found out that after she graduated, she run away from home.  Gidea told me that he saw her on the streets.  african-girl-portrait-scarf_iphone_750x1334

She saw me and smiled.  I watched as she approached me.  “Hi,” she said when she reached me.  “What’s that you’re handing out?”

“Gospel tracts.  Would you like one?”

She shrugged.  “Sure.”

I handed her the one about Connecting With God.  She took it.  I hope she reads it.  “How are you doing, Nata?” I asked.

“Surviving,” she replied.  “I hate to ask you this but could you give me some money?  Someone the money in my bag while I was sleeping.”

“When and where did this happen?”

She hesitated.  “Last night on the street.”

“Are you living on the streets?”

She nodded.  “I have been since I left home.  Things got so bad at home that I had to leave.”

“Nata, do you know how dangerous it is for a girl to be living on the streets?  So far you’ve only been robbed but something worse can happen.  You can’t stay on the streets.  Isn’t there a relative you can stay with?”

She shook her head.  “No.  My relatives have their own problems.  They wouldn’t want me around.  What about you?  Can I stay with you until I can find a job?”

“I’m sorry but that wouldn’t be possible.  I’m a Christian and it wouldn’t look good for me to have a girl I’m not married to living with me.”

“All right.  Do you have money you can lend me?  When I get a job I will pay you back.”

“I have a better idea.  There’s this house for street children.  I know the woman who runs it.  She goes to my church.  I can take you there and she will help you.  You can stay there until you decide to return home or find a place.  While there you can continue going to school.”

She considered it for a moment.  “My parents wouldn’t find out that I’m there?”

I shook my head.  “No.  Not unless you want them to.”

“All right.  I will go to this place but if I don’t like it, I’ll leave.”

“Fair enough.  I will take you there right now.”  I stuffed the tracts in my satchel bag and we headed for the bus stop.  In half-hour we were walking into the shelter.  I introduced her to Amahle, the church member I told her about and waited until everything was sorted out.  “Thanks, Amahle.  Take care, Nata.”

She stared up at me.  “You will check up on me, right?”

“I will.  And don’t worry, you will be well taken care of here.”

The anxious expression on her face faded.  “Thanks for the tract.  I promise I will read it.”

“Good.  The next time I come, I will bring more.  I’ll see you soon.”

She didn’t answer.  I could feel her eyes on me as I turned and walked away.  I knew I had done the right thing bringing her here.

Sources:  Ixande; SA News; Kindernothilfe;

It is What it Is

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PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

“Have you told your parents?” she asked, toying with the straw in her milkshake.

He shook his head.  “Not yet.”

She sighed.  “How long are you going to keep putting it off?”

“I promise, I will tell them—when the time’s right.”

“And when will that be?”

“I don’t know.  My parents are old fashioned…”

“So, they won’t accept me because I’m Japanese.   I’m American too.”

“They’re not racist, it’s just…”

“It’s just what?”

“They don’t believe in races mixing.”

That’s racist.”

“Look, today’s the Fourth of July.  Let’s just celebrate.”

She stood up.  “You can celebrate.  I’m leaving.”

“Tomika!”

 

 

100 Words

 

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

 

I wish everyone in America and Americans living abroad a Happy Fourth of July!

Twenty-Five Years

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It’s our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  We decided would celebrate it in the comfort of our home.  So, after eating Thai food delivered at our door we drank champagne.  A single red rose lay between us on the bed.

“Happy anniversary,” Martin says as he holds my hand.  “Thank you for the best twenty- five years of my life.”

I smile as I raise my glass.  “Here’s to another twenty-five years.”

We toast.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  God has blessed me with a wonderful man.  We don’t have any kids but we have each other.  He’s my world and I am his.  Together, we have chartered calm and rough waters but through it all, our love, marriage and faith have grown stronger.   Tonight, we are celebrating twenty-five years of wedded bliss.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Farm.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

David/Rooted #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

This was the tree where David and I met after school.  He was the sweetest boy I ever knew and I always imagined that one day we would get married and have lots of children.  It never occurred to me that laws would soon be put in place to make relationships such as ours illegal.

As soon as school was let out, I ran to the tree and he would be waiting for me.  He was so tall and handsome with thick black hair and gentle brown eyes.  We would hold hands and kiss but that was as far as things went.  We would sit under the tree and talk for hours.  Parting from him was always hard.  I always willed the hours because I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Then one day, I showed up and for the first time he wasn’t there.  I waited for hours but he never came.  I was understandably frantic.  After several days went by and still no sign of him,  I decided to go by his father’s shop and was appalled to see the word, “Jude” painted across the window and the star of David.  The shop was empty.  I ran home and asked my father what had happened to David.  My father sat me down and explained to me that the Germans had moved the Jews to the Ghetto.  I learned that they were banned from from entering certain streets, squares, parks, woods and other public places.  That meant that David and I couldn’t meet by the tree anymore.  It was in the woods.  David couldn’t go to my brother’s school any more.

After my father finished telling me everything he knew, I went to my room where I cried and cried.  David who was forced to live like an animal because of deeply rooted hatred.  My world had become a dark and ugly place of intolerance and ignorance.  I wanted so desperately to see him but it was out of the question.  My father told me it was best to forget about David.  There was no future for us.  He was a Jew.

I knew that I would never forget David.  I loved him.  He was my first and only love.  And I never gave up hope that we would be together again–not even when I learned that the Jews had been deported to concentration camps.  No one was willing to take them in and for some Jews, going into hiding would break up their families and that was unthinkable, especially those who with children.

The years went by, the war raged on and I became a nurse.   My father died of a heart-attack a couple of days after his fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Only my mother and I were left.  My brother was killed years ago after he was arrested for being a part of a  resistance movement against the Nazi Regime.  My parents were devastated but I was proud of him for fighting against evil.  I only wish I had the guts to do something too.  Instead I prayed that David and his family would somehow survive and that when the war was over I would see him again.

Well, the war is over and I’m the only surviving member of my family.  My mother died from a stroke a month ago.  I buried her next to my father.

Tomorrow is my birthday but I have no one special to celebrate it with.  It’s a nice afternoon so I decided to go for a walk in the park.  I head straight for the tree.  A man stood there with his back to me.  He was wearing a hat and a trench coat.  Something about him looked familiar.  My heart began to beat faster.  I could feel the color drain from my cheeks.  “David?” My voice was barely above a whisper and yet he heard me.

He turned around slowly.  “Ingrid.” He removed his hat and stepped forward.

“David!” I cried again and then we were in each other’s arms, laughing, crying and kissing.  I don’t know how long we did that and I didn’t care. All I knew was that David, my David was alive.  He had survived the ghetto, the camp and the war.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rooted at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Holocaust EncyclopediaOxford AcademicHolocaust 

Lunch with Marcia

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I was so engrossed in the article I was reading on my laptop that I didn’t even notice that Marcia had walked into my office.  I looked up when she tapped on the door frame.  She was smiling broadly.  “It’s April 12 today,” she said.

I stared at her blankly.  She looked great as usual.  I wonder if she knows that I have a “thing” for her.

She came over to my desk.  “Today is my tenth anniversary with the company,” she said.  “Didn’t you read my email?”

“No, I didn’t.  Sorry,” I mumbled as I quickly pulled up my emails and sure enough, there was an unopened one from her.  It wasn’t there before or I would have definitely opened it.  I opened it and read it.  It said, Guess what, Ramesh.  Today’s my tenth anniversary with Catapult.  To celebrate I was wondering if you would like to join me for free barbecue lunch at Joe’s right down the street?

My heart was beating fast with excitement now.  She wanted to celebrate her anniversary with me.   I looked up at her.  “Sure, I’d love to join you,” I said, eagerly.

She smiled, making my heart skip a beat.  “Great.  We’ll leave at twelve-fifteen and get there for Twelve-thirty.  I’ll come and get you.”

I smiled and nodded.  After she left my office, I turned my attention back to the article I was reading but couldn’t concentrate.  I got up from my desk and walked over to the window.

As I looked down at the busy street below, I thought about the times when I wanted to ask Marcia out but was too chicken to do.  I had no idea how she felt about me.  I didn’t know if she would be interested in going out with me.  I’m floored by the fact that she asked me out.  The thought scared and excited me at the same time.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  Maybe this was just what it was–I was going for a free barbecue lunch with a co-worker and nothing more.  Still, the way she looked at me when she was standing in front of my desk and the fact that she came to my office when she didn’t receive a reply to her email encouraged me.

I glanced at my watch.  Two hours to go.  I hope they go by quickly.  I was anxious to leave my office and step out into the bright sunshine.  It was a beautiful day, not your typical spring day, mind you, it was mild.  The weather was in double digits.

I returned to my desk and tried to get some work done.  I will finish reading the article another time.

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I was ready when she popped by my office and as I followed her to the elevators, I felt like I was on my first date with a pretty girl whom I had a major crush on.  I was nervous and prayed that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.  I tried not to stare at her when we were in the elevator but it was hard not to.  She looked amazing in the sleeveless dress which was knee length, revealing very long and shapely calves.  Her thick curly hair fell in unruly waves about her shoulders.  I was tempted to touch them but I kept my hands to myself.

I felt a little hot in my jacket but I wanted to look presentable.  It was a pleasant walk to the restaurant which was filled but we were able to get a table by the window.  Over mouthwatering beef and lamb ribs we talked animatedly about a lot of things.  We had such fun getting to know each other better and sharing funny stories about family and friends.  I was sorry when it was time to head back to the office.

We were alone in the elevator this time.  I turned to her.  This was my chance.  “Marcia, thank you for inviting me to lunch.  I had a great time.  If you’re not busy tomorrow evening, I was hoping that you would have dinner with me.”

She smiled.  “I thought you’d never ask,” she teased.  “Of course, I’d love to.”

My chest swelled and as we exited the elevator and I walked to my office, there was a little spring in my step.  I couldn’t wait for tomorrow evening to come.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, April.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Two Reasons to Celebrate

Young and sassy are the words my husband use to describe me.  We are opposites.  He’s an introvert and I’m an extrovert.  He’s in his mid-fifties with grey sideburns but he still has the body and libido of a much younger man.  I’m in my late twenties and I’m trying to keep up with him.

We met last year when a mutual friend invited a group of people to Maui for a week of sun and fun.  Lorenzo didn’t go with anyone and nor did I.  We were immediately attracted to each other and for the rest of the vacation, we were inseparable.

A year and four months later, we are newlyweds.  For our honeymoon we went on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise which ended in Venice, the city of love.  After we spent two days there, we headed to Milan to visit his family.  We figured we might as well since we were in Italy.

I must say that although I half-expected it, it still came as a bitter disappointment when his parents made it painfully obvious that they didn’t approve of me.  No doubt my color had more to do with it than my age.  His teenage children from his previous marriage were polite but I could tell that they didn’t approve either.  Being married to me meant that their father wasn’t going to return to Milan or reconcile with their mother.

I feel sorry for them.  When my parents divorced and my father remarried, I was upset.  I wasn’t nice to my step-mother, Violet because she ruined all chances of my parents getting back together.  It took years for me to get over that disappointment and be civil to Violet.  Now, she and I are friends.  And I can see how happy she makes my father.  I hope that one of these days, Lorenzo’s children will come around too.  He’s the love of my life and his happiness means the world to me.

Lorenzo and I ended up spending only two days in Milan and then we were off to Rome.  I loved Rome–the people, the food and the piazzas.  On our last night, we visited Piazza Navona and enjoyed a couple of gelato as we admired Bernini’s perfectly lit Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Lorenzo and I were sorry to leave Italy but we were excited about beginning our life as a married couple and moving into our new home overlooking Central Park.  It took a while for me to get back into a routine because of jet-lag.

Ten weeks have passed since our honeymoon and I’m standing in front of my enormous closet, looking at the designer clothes, bags and shoes I brought back from Milan and Rome.  As I look through the outfits a smile tugs at my lips.   I can’t wait to see Lorenzo’s face when I tell him the good news tonight over a home cooked dinner.  We have two wonderful reasons to celebrate.

That’s right.  We’re going to have twins.  Whether they are boys or girls or one of each, we won’t know for some time or maybe, we’ll decide to wait to find out.  Already, I’m making plans to turn the extra bedroom into a nursery and I’m just dying to go shopping for the babies.

The chiming of the clock reminds me that I have to get dinner ready.  I close the closet doors and leave the bedroom.  I’m going to make sure that tonight is a very special night for Lorenzo.

I’ve been learning to cook Italian dishes thanks to Jamie Oliver.  I’m going to make tasty tuna meatballs with pasta and Caesar salad.  And for desert, what else but his favorite–pistachio gelato from our favorite neighborhood gelato place.

After dinner and when we’re relaxing in the living-room, then I will tell him that we’re going to have twins.  And then, we celebrate with a bottle of Martinelli’s Gold Medal non-alcoholic Sparkling Cider.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Sunday’s word: closet and Monday’s word:  jet. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

The Dasara Festival

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The atmosphere is festive as tourists and locals celebrate Dasara, the autumnal equinox festival and public holiday.  It’s the day in the Hindu legends when the goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura and good triumphed over evil.  Dasara is observed through special prayer meetings and food offerings to the gods at home or in temples, outdoor fairs, large parades and bonfires in the evening.

I watch my husband and our children as they celebrate.  One day, I will have victory over him too.

 

83 Words

 

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Photo by Sylvester Dsouza

This is for the Weekend Writing Prompt by Sammi Cox. For instructions, click HERE.

Sources: Wikipedia ;Time and Date; Your Dictionary