He had set the lofty goal of becoming one of the top five wealthiest men in the world and reached it at the age of thirty-five. He bought a castle that once belonged to a Lord. He had a large staff which took care of everything. He had his privacy. He had his own beach and could take long walks along its shore anytime. The only thing missing was someone to share his life with.
He was tired of going on dates with women he had no interest in. Most of them were only interested in his wealth. He was lonely and longed for companionship. Then, he had the idea of hiring a companion. He was willing to pay for them. He preferred that the woman be between the age of thirty and fifty. She had to be attractive, well read and employed. He had his secretary place the ad in the local newspaper and screen the calls and do the interviews. Out of hundreds of applicants, only a handful were chosen for him to interview himself.
The woman he chose was a French university Art professor who moved to Brussels five years ago. She was very attractive, engaging, shared the same interest in books and a love for the Arts. She was forty but looked younger. They got along very well. She had made it very clear that she wasn’t doing this for money. Most of her friends were married and her family was in France and like him, she yearned for companionship. She told him that when she saw the ad, at first she was hesitant to apply but after thinking about it, she decided to do it and was happy she did.
They spent every waking moment together, learning about each other and sharing parts of themselves they had never shared with another living soul. They swam in the ocean, went for walks, drives, went to the opera, enjoyed classical musics in his private movie theatre and enjoyed intimate dinners in the large dining-room or on the terrace facing the sea.
Then one terrible day, he got a call from her. She sounded upset. She informed him that she couldn’t continue seeing him. Alarmed, he asked her why. After being evasive, she finally informed that she had been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. She didn’t want to burden him with her illness. “It wouldn’t be fair to you,” she said. “I’ll be in and out of hospital.” However, he insisted that he wanted to be there for her and after they ended the call, he went over to her place.
He was there for her during the daily dialysis and several hospital stays. He took her food and helped her to get dressed. He spoke to the doctors, anxious to find out everything he could.
When he found out that she needed a transplant and after learning that her relatives couldn’t be donors, he asked to be tested. Despite her protests, he was tested and it turned out that he was a match. Both of them were tearful when they got the news. They underwent the kidney transplant and on her forty-first birthday which was a couple of weeks later, he proposed to her. She happily accepted, knowing in her heart that not only had she met the man who selflessly gave his kidney so that he could save her life but she had met the man of her dreams. As they sat on the terrace gazing out at the sea one afternoon, she said to him, “I have your kidney and you have my heart.”
He smiled and reached for her hand. “You have all of me.”
This story was inspired by one I read today of a man who donated his kidney to save his girlfriend’s life. If you would like to read their story, click Here.
This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Lofty. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.
I was a gourmand. Food was my obsession. I gorged on it every chance I got. Whenever I traveled, I preferred to pop into the different restaurants and enjoying the different cuisines than go sightseeing. My friends and family stopped going abroad with me because I always wanted to stop somewhere to eat when they wanted to be on the go.
While they were pounding the pavement in the midday heat, I was in a nice, air conditioned restaurant, enjoying great food. This love for food began when I was in my late teens and continued into my late twenties. Unlike most of my friends and relatives, I was still single. I dated a couple of times but the men were turned off because I ate more than they did.
I hardly socialized. I was used to eating out alone and when I wasn’t doing that, I was at home, reading or watching television while enjoying take out or recipes I tried from the scores of cookbooks I had. Then, one day, I looked a really hard look at myself and realized that if I didn’t stop, I was going to eat myself into an early grave.
So, I did what I never thought I would ever do. I gave away my cookbooks and went on a diet. I ate mostly fruit, grains and salads. It wasn’t easy but determination can be a great motivator. Besides, I wanted to live to a ripe old age like most of my family.
I started going to the gym as well and that’s where I met Peter. He was the most attractive man in the entire place and I was blown away when he noticed me. I had lost some weight but still needed to lose a lot more. Anyway, after weeks of catching each other’s eye, he finally came over and introduced himself. We spent the rest of my time at the gym together. Before I left, he asked me out. I was on cloud nine. I ran down the sidewalk like a giddy school girl. It felt great to be going on a date after such a long time.
We went to Spicy Affairs, a vegetarian restaurant (he was vegetarian) and over Mushroom Marsala we talked and laughed. We had such a wonderful time together that we made other dates. When we weren’t at the gym together, we were going to the beach for long walks or drives up the coast, the movies, museums and art galleries, all the kinds of things I wasn’t interested in when food was all I cared about. Now, I have so many other interests and I met a terrific guy who makes me feel beautiful. It is because of him that I haven’t lost all of my chubbiness.
Did I forget to mention that we’re engaged? Oh yes, he popped the question yesterday when we were taking our regular stroll along the beach. That photo you see of us was taken after I said YES! Every time I look at it, I am ever so thankful that I had the good sense to turn my life around. I still enjoy food but not as excessively as before and besides, I have Peter to keep me in line.
This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Gourmand. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.
I stood there in the secluded spot and tranquil place where we used to meet. It was our secret place where we could love each other freely. Back there it was against the law for a white man and a black woman to have relations. Race mixing as they called it was banned. The punishment for interracial marriage to be a year in jail and the white person was fined $100 fine. The person who officiated an interracial wedding was fined $200. How I hated those laws. They were passed by ignorant and racist people who couldn’t accept that people of different races could fall in love with each other.
My parents were just as intolerant. They believed that people should stick to their own kind–you know, to keep the races pure. They even used the Bible to validate their racist views. I read the Bible myself and nowhere did it prohibit interracial love. In fact, there were examples of mixed marriages. I hated going to a school where blacks weren’t allowed and even church which was to be the temple of the God who created all races, blacks weren’t allowed to worship with us. I hated living in a state that was so intolerant. I promised myself that I would leave it as soon as I was old enough.
My parents made sure that I went to the best schools and associated only with those whom they deemed to be socially acceptable–the filthy rich. They even had it in their heads that one day I would marry Governor Brown’s daughter, Virginia (I can’t believe her parents named her after the state). Granted, she was a nice girl, very pretty and I could tell that she liked me very much. We went on dates and such and then, I went away to university. It was an understanding that we were going steady and that in due time, I would propose.
When I returned from university one summer vacation, my mother told me that we had a new maid, Flora. The previous one, Berta had been fired. My parents never told me what happened but I was sore because I really liked Berta. Well, when I met Flora, I quickly forgot about Berta. She was much younger than Berta but about ten years older than me. Flora wasn’t pretty like Virginia but she was very attractive. She had big brown eyes that didn’t seem to miss a thing, smooth dark skin and a lovely voice. Sometimes she would sing as she worked.
Once I asked her why didn’t she become a professional singer. She scoffed and said, “The only thing white folks want colored people like me to do is cook, clean, do the laundry and keep my place.”
Flora had a room built at the back of the house where she would change into her uniform and use the bathroom. She had special plates and forks to use for her meals. She was paid $10 a week which in that time was considered good money.
Flora was a bit cynical and who could blame her? Although she is well paid, she is treated with disrespect and condescension by my parents, relatives and family friends. There are times when I sit at the dining table and seethe with rage. The final straw came when Flora accidentally spilled a glass of wine and some of it got on Mrs. Miller, an insufferable and vain woman. She rose to her feet and struck Flora hard across the face. “You clumsy n—–,” she cried. “You’ve ruined my dress. It’s too bad you can’t be whipped for this.”
My mother didn’t bat an eye. I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t livid that one of her guests had slapped Flora. I guess I was foolish to expect her to say something in Flora’s defense. Instead, she said to her crossly, “Clean that mess up.”
Flora quickly left the room and was back in a seconds to clean the spill. I wanted to go after her but propriety made me stay put. I promised myself that I would speak to her before she left this evening.”
“You should fire her, Rosemary,” Mrs. Miller said as she resumed her seat.
“It was an accident!” I said as calmly as I could although, what I really wanted to do was throw the rest of the wine in her sanctimonious face.
“You mind your manners, Boy,” my father scolded.
“You’re excused,” was my mother’s rejoinder.
“Excuse me,” I said as I rose to my feet. I was happy to leave the table.
I headed straight for the kitchen where Flora was busy washing up the dishes. I wanted to help but I knew that she wouldn’t let me. Besides, it would get her into trouble. I went and stood beside her. I could see that she had been crying. I wanted to hug her. “I’m sorry about what happened just now, Flora,” I said quietly. “Mrs. Miller had no right to hit you. You’re a grown woman, not a child.”
“You heard what she called me. That gives her the right to hit me.”
“Flora, sometimes, I wish I could take you away from all of this.”
“You shouldn’t be saying such things, Master Oliver.”
“But, it’s true, Flora.”
“And where would we go?”
“I don’t know yet but some place where you’re treated better.”
“Right now I can’t think of any place like that except Heaven.”
“Flora, after I graduate from university, I’m going to leave Richmond. I want you to come with me.”
“Master Oliver, stop talking foolish.”
“Stop calling me Master Oliver,” I retorted. “I’m just plain Oliver and I’m not talking foolish. I’m very serious, Flora.”
“I’ll think about it now, go before your mother comes in here and finds us together.”
“All right. I’ll go. Goodnight, Flora.”
The next morning, she was gone. My mother had taken Mrs. Miller advice and fired Flora. I was so upset that I didn’t speak to my mother for weeks. I found out where Flora lived and the first opportunity, I had, I went to see her. She was alone. After I letting her know how upset and furious I was that she had lost her job, I made her promise to meet me that afternoon at the pond where no one ever goes.
I got there first and waited. As I waited, I picked a bunch of wildflowers I saw there. Flora would like them. I bet she never got flowers from anyone before. I would be the first. I smiled at the thought. She showed up five minutes later. I gave her the flowers and she took them, smiling. She smelled them. “Thank you,” she said. She reached up and kissed me on the cheek.
I felt my face get hot. I also felt strange sensations in my body. “You’re welcome, Flora,” I said.
We sat down on the grass and talked and talked. I loved being with her and I could tell she felt the same way. We promised to meet there again tomorrow. She left first and then I left several minutes after. When I went home, my mother told me that Virginia and her parents were having dinner with us that evening. It would be the first time I would be seeing Virginia since I’ve been home for the summer. I was more excited about seeing Flora tomorrow than seeing Virginia that evening.
The evening went well, I suppose. Virginia didn’t seem to notice that I was preoccupied with my thoughts. She talked mostly about herself and what she had been up to while I was away at university. I didn’t make any plans to see her again. After we parted company, I went up to my room where I remained until the following morning. As soon as the afternoon came, I was racing down to the pond. This time Flora was waiting for me. And she brought two huge slices of an apple pie she had baked. After we ate them, we went for a swim.
Afterwards, we lay in the sun. We talked about different things and then, I rolled onto my side and looked down at her. She had her eyes closed. The strange sensations stir inside me again and this time, I lowered my head and kissed her. She didn’t push me away or slap me in the face. Instead, she reached up and put her arms around my neck. We ended up making love for the first time.
Day after day we met there in our secluded spot until one day we were discovered by Virginia’s brother and his friends. I was promptly sent back to Atlanta where I spent the rest of the summer until it was time to return to university. I don’t know what happened to Flora. No one would tell me anything. I was devastated because I was madly in love with her. I wanted to marry her.
When I returned to Virginia, I went to her house. At that point I didn’t care what people said or did or thought. All I wanted was to see Flora. However, when I went to her house, the neighbors said that she was gone. They had no idea where she had gone.
Dejected, I returned to Atlanta where I tried to forget about her. I even got married to a nice girl named Amy and we had a boy. Time passed but the memories of my summer with Flora never faded. I still yearned to see her. I still loved her and no amount of time would make me forget about her.
After Amy died, I tried to see if I could find out any information about Flora. I wish I had a photo of her that I could have put on Facebook but I didn’t. In spite of these setbacks and disappointments, I haven’t stopped hoping that one day I will see her again.
It’s 2018 and summer again here in Richmond. I’m here by the pond, allowing myself to relive the happiest memories of my entire life. I look at the wild flowers and smile. I will never forget the spark in Flora’s beautiful eyes when I gave them to her. If she were here now, I would give her another bunch.
“Mr. Jones?” a voice called out and startled, I turned.
It was a young African American girl. “Yes,” I replied. “I’m Mr. Jones. Who are you?”
She came closer. “I’m Regina. I was told that I might find you here. Someone asked me to give this to you.” She held out a letter sized brown envelope.”
I took it. It didn’t have any address. It only had my name written neatly at the front. “Who asked you to give this to me?”
“My grandmother, Flora.”
My heart caught in my throat. Flora. I sat down on the tuft of grass and eagerly opened the envelope. I pulled out a letter and some photos. I looked at the photos first. They were of Flora and a lovely little girl. She looked so much like Flora but much fairer in complexion.
With trembling fingers, I unfolded the letter and read it. Halfway through, I started to cry. Flora was pregnant when she left Richmond. She wanted me to know about Olivia and wrote to me at the university several times but all of her letters were returned. She never got married, she said because there was only one man whose wife she wanted to be.
I looked up at Regina who was standing beside me. “Where’s Flora?” I asked. I longed to see her.
“I’m sorry, grandfather, but she died this morning.”
I broke down at that point. Regina dropped to her knees and put her arms around me. The only thing that gave me any comfort was the knowledge that Flora and I have a daughter and a granddaughter. Our love will live on through them and generations to come.
Those we love are never really lost to us–for everywhere their special love lives on – Amanda Bradley
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Tranquil at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.
She was in a thrift store looking through one of the racks when she glanced up and saw him walk in. He looked as good as ever. He was standing now beside the rack where the ties were. She made her way quickly over to him. “Hi Kent,” she went up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
He turned around and his eyes widened in surprise when he saw her. “Hello Tia,” he said quietly. His gaze eagerly traveled over her as if the sight of her was something he had been longing for. “It’s good to see you. How have you been?”
“It’s good to see you too. I’ve been well. How about you?”
“I heard about Eric and you,” he said. “I haven’t been in touch with him since he told me that your engagement was over.”
Eric was her fiancé and Kent’s best friend. She had broken off her engagement after meeting Kent two years ago. “I didn’t mean to hurt him but I couldn’t marry him knowing that I didn’t love him.”
“Have dinner with me tonight, Tia,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.
“As much I want to, I can’t, Kent,” she said.
“I’m divorced now. Iris finally agreed to give me the divorce. I suspect it has to do with the new man in her life.”
She met Iris on several occasions and the animosity the other woman felt toward her was so obvious that Tia wondered if she knew that she had feelings for her husband. Iris was a rich and beautiful woman but hardly anyone liked her and Tia couldn’t imagine why Kent married her. “Why did you marry her?” she asked now.
“She got pregnant,” he admitted. “I wanted to do the right thing—the noble thing and marry her. Soon after we got married, she had a miscarriage. By then, I regretted marrying her but she refused to give me a divorce. No one in her family had ever been divorced and she didn’t want to be the only one. So, I was trapped in a marriage that I wanted desperately out of and things got worse when I met you.”
“How did meeting me make things worse?” she asked.
“From the very first moment I saw you, I wanted you. Iris accused me of having an affair and she was right. In my mind I was having one with you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you and wanting you. I felt guilty not only because of my marriage but because of Eric. Have dinner with me tonight, Tia. We’re both free now.”
He was right. There was nothing or no one standing in their way anymore. “All right,” she said. She gave him her address and number.
“I’ll see you at seven,” he said.
She put her arm around his neck as she reached up and kissed him on the cheek. She felt his arms hold her against him and when she drew back, she saw him staring at her lips, his eyes dark with desire and his face flushed. Her gaze lowered to his and as she saw them move closer to hers, the temptation to kiss him was so great that hers parted in anticipation.
Then, she heard someone cough behind her and she was aware of where they were. She pulled away. “I’ll see you then,” she said.
He nodded before he left, seeming to forget why he went to the store in the first place. After he was gone, she went over to the rack with the ties. She picked out the one she saw him looking at and she bought it along with a couple of blouses for herself.
At seven, he was at her flat and she was dressed and waiting for him. He liked what he saw and she was pleased. The jet black crepe lace dress with the sweetheart neckline fitted her snugly, flattering her shape and her legs looked good in the black caged heels. He looked gorgeous in a black suit, white shirt and no tie. He took her to a popular Italian restaurant where they enjoyed good food, wine and cozy atmosphere. They spoke about a lot of things. They had much catching up to do.
When they were having their dessert, he asked, “Why did you get engaged to Eric if you didn’t love him?”
She thought about his question for a moment. “I guess, I was thinking that I’m getting older and I was ready to settle down and have children,” she acknowledged. “I’m forty years old. Most of my friends and relatives are married and have children. My younger sister got married last year and is expecting her second child. Eric proposed and I accepted. He was a decent guy. I liked him and I thought that in time I would grow to love him but I was just kidding myself. I knew that it wouldn’t work out between us, especially not after meeting you.”
“So, if I weren’t married when we met, you and I would have been together all this time?”
“Well, I would have waited for a little time after breaking off my engagement just out of decency.”
“Yes, it wouldn’t have looked good if you and I began seeing each other soon after you ended your relationship with Eric. And he was my friend. I’m sorry that we lost touch although, I can’t imagine that he would want to maintain our friendship now on account of you.”
“I’m sorry that he got hurt in all of this. I hope that he finds a good woman and forgets about me.”
“I can’t imagine any man forgetting you,” Kent said, huskily, covering her hand with his. “I tried to but it didn’t work. I couldn’t get you out of my mind or out of my system. You filled my thoughts and my dreams. After I met you, I stopped sleeping in the same bed with Iris and moved to another room. She wasn’t happy at all. She demanded that I be a husband to her in every sense but I couldn’t and that’s when she accused me of cheating on her. She insisted on knowing who the woman was but I refused to say anything. She never suspected that it was you. I was careful to hide my feelings whenever you and I were around each other.”
“She didn’t like me and was so hostile toward me that I wondered if she suspected that I had feelings for you.”
“It doesn’t matter now. She is out of my life. You and I can be together now. Would you like to come back to my place for a nightcap?”
She nodded and he squeezed her hand gently before signaling to the waiter for the bill. On the way over to his flat, he said, “How would you like to go with me to Venice for a week?”
Her eyes widened. “Venice?” she exclaimed.
“Yes. I have always imagined going there with the woman I fall in love with because it is a romantic city.” They were at a traffic light and he turned to her. “I love you, Tia. I fell in love with you the first time we met.”
Her eyes welled with tears. “I love you too,” she said.
He reached over and kissed her until the light changed. “Then, we will go to Venice, the perfect city for lovers,” he said as he turned his attention back to the road.
They loved Venice so much that they returned a couple of months later for their honeymoon.
Her heart was racing. She hoped she looked presentable in her V-neck floral knee length summer dress and the pair of wedges which she thought looked better than the pumps she had considered wearing. To complete the look, she wore the lovely olive leaf pendant which Paolo had given her for her birthday.
“Mama, incontrare Roxane, il mio fidanzato,” Paolo announced as he presented Roxane before his mother who was sitting on an expensive looking sofa backing an antique grandfather clock with two small tables on either side on which sat figurines and decorative vases with flowers in them and oil paintings above them. It was a beautiful room but she didn’t have time to admire it. She was standing in front of the woman who was soon to be her mother-in-law and a mighty sense of foreboding came over her. It was as if her happiness depended upon this meeting.
A pair of dark brown eyes stared up at her. There was no warmth or welcome in her expression. She just looked Roxane over and then she turned to Paolo and said, “Voglio parlare con te solo.”
Paolo’s expression was grim when he turned to Roxane. “Would you excuse us, darling? My mother wishes to have a word with me.”
She nodded and after glancing at his mother whose eyes were still on Paolo, she turned and quickly left the room. There was an accent chair where she sat down. It faced the door of the room she had just left.
She sat there on edge, her heart racing as she heard the voices in the next room. She knew that they were talking about her. She was the reason why they were in Milan where his mother and sister lived. They were there to meet them. Paolo’s sister Annabella had driven them over to the house. Annabella was very warm and friendly. Roxane felt better after having met her, however, when they were alone, Annabella used that as an opportunity to warn her not to get her hopes up about her mother accepting her.
“I’m not sure if Paolo told you this but when he was in his twenties, he was engaged to a girl named Gianna. He brought her here to meet Mama but Mama refused to approve the match and the engagement was broken off.”
Alarmed, she asked, “Why didn’t your mother approve of her?”
“She was Sicilian. Mama thinks all Sicilians are involved with the Mafia. I know it sounds foolish but that was her reason.”
“What if she doesn’t approve of me, will Paolo break off our engagement too?”
Annabella shook her head. “I don’t think so. He loves you.”
“But didn’t he love Gianna too?”
“It was more of an infatuation. It would have fizzled out even if Mama had approved of her.”
“Annabella, I’m so nervous and afraid.”
Annabella smiled and squeezed her hand. “No matter what happens, Paolo loves you and he will marry you.”
At the time Roxane was grateful for the warning but now she was filled with trepidation. She loved Paolo and was afraid of losing him. It was clear from their encounter just now that his mother didn’t approve of her. She had looked her over and didn’t like what she saw. There was no smile or greeting–nothing but a critical look. This was the second time his mother disapproved of the woman he wanted to marry. Will the outcome be the same?
“è troppo scura!” his mother sounded angry.
Paolo said something which she couldn’t make out.
“Aspettare e sposare una ragazza italiana che non è siciliana,” his mother retorted.
“Mama, Io vado a sposare Roxane perché l’amo e non importa quello che dici.”
Shortly afterwards, the door was flung open and Paolo strode out of the room, his expression thunderous. He strode over to Roxane and muttered, “Let’s go. Our business here is over.”
Roxane got to her feet and grabbing her hand he hurried from the room. He looked so angry that she daren’t say anything at the moment. Annabella was in the courtyard when they came out of the house. From the expression on her brother’s face, she could tell that things had not gone well. Like Roxane, she didn’t ask any questions. Instead, she said, “I’ll drive you back to the hotel.”
Paolo got into the back of the car with Roxane and he held her hand as they sat there not saying anything. Annabella turned on the radio breaking the silence with news and music.
When they arrived at the hotel, she got out of the car and hugged them both. “Roxane, it was really nice meeting you. I hope to see you again very soon. Paolo, I’m sorry things didn’t go as you hoped but I hope that it wouldn’t spoil the rest of your trip. Call me if you need anything.”
He nodded with a smile and then she was gone. He put his arm around Roxane’s shoulders as they walked through the lobby and headed upstairs to their suite. Once they were alone, he took her over the sofa and they sat down. “You must know by now that my mother doesn’t approve of you,” he said. “Her reason was that you are too dark.”
Roxane lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the hurt in them. All her life she had been conscious of her dark color even among her own relatives. They were surprised that a man like Paolo would be attracted to her let alone want to marry her. “What did you say to that?”
“I told her that when I look at you, I don’t see a woman who is too dark but a beautiful woman with lovely dark skin. The first time I saw you I couldn’t get over how exquisite you were.” He bent his head then and kissed her on the side of her neck.
“What else did she say?” she asked, breathless, her skin tingling from where his lips had been. She looked at him then.
“She said that I should wait and marry an Italian girl who is not Sicilian.”
“Annabella told me about Gianna. Did you love her?”
He shook his head. “I was infatuated with her but no, I wasn’t in love with her.”
“So, what did you tell your mother after she told you to wait and marry someone else?”
“I told her that I am going to marry you because I love you and it doesn’t matter what she says.”
“So, you are going against her wishes?”
“Yes. My mother’s wishes are irrelevant. I’m a grown man, Roxane. I know what I want and I want you. I want to marry you.
Putting her arms around his neck, she kissed him and he responded passionately. A moment later, he raised his head to gaze at her, his eyes dark and smoldering. “I love you so much,” he murmured huskily.
“I love you too.”
“Let’s get married here in Milan,” he said.
She drew back slightly to look at him, her eyes wide. “Get married here in Milan?” she exclaimed.
He nodded. “Yes. We’ll invite just Annabella and a few friends.”
The thought of getting married here in Milan never once occurred to her but she liked it. “Yes, let’s do it.”
“I’ll call Annabella later and ask her to make the arrangements. I’m sure she will be thrilled.”
“Not as thrilled as I am at the moment,” she said before she kissed him.
Three days later their wedding day arrived bright and sunny and without any hitch. They got married in the same church where Paolo was christened. Afterwards, they were whisked off to a friend’s villa where the reception was held. Everything was wonderful—the decorations, the food, the music. Everyone had a great time. Noticeably missing was Paolo’s mother but that didn’t dampen his spirits. He didn’t expect her to come even though he had invited her at Roxane’s suggestion. In spite of how his mother felt about her, she still felt that she should at least be invited to the wedding and it was up to her to accept or refuse the invitation.
“You look absolutely beautiful,” he told Roxane as he took in his arms for their first dance.
She was wearing an elegant off the shoulder wedding gown which she was fortunate to find and purchase at such short notice. Annabella had gone to the bridal shop with her one morning and the moment she saw the dress, she knew it was the one. She tried it on and it was a perfect fit.
She smiled now at Paolo who looked very handsome in his tuxedo. “You don’t look so bad yourself,” she teased. She turned her head and looked at her hand resting on his chest so that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes. She was so happy. They had a perfect day for their wedding and tonight was simply magical. His mother’s absence hadn’t spoiled it for her. She wished, though, her parents could have been there.
He rested his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry that your parents couldn’t be here,” he said as if reading her thoughts.
“Me too,” she said. “But, I’m not sorry that we got married here instead of in London as we had planned. I loved the church and this villa is amazing. And we get to have our honeymoon here too. I couldn’t be happier.”
He smiled. “I’m relieved to hear that. I want to make you as happy as you have made me.”
She looked at him then, her eyes shining with tears. “You have made me extremely happy, Paolo, more than you can ever imagine.”
He lowered his head and kissed her as they swayed to the music.
Tens of thousands of people in the world suffer from leprosy, a bacterial infection which affects the skin and destroys nerves. Since the disease affects the nervous system, the affected areas become numb. People suffering from leprosy cannot feel pain and can easily hurt or injure themselves. These injuries can become infected and result in tissue loss. I remember reading about a missionary who put one of his feet in a pan of boiling water and didn’t even feel any pain. It was then that he realized that he had leprosy.
The stigma that comes from having leprosy can be worse than the disease itself. People with leprosy are outcasts. Their relatives believe that they are cursed. Their lives are filled with loneliness and pain. People avoid them. This happened to Balwant. He was in his 30s when he discovered that he had leprosy. He had white patches on his leg that itched and then became numb.
Leprosy, if left untreated, can cause serious damage and leave a person disfigured. Balwant and others like him feel ostracized and humiliated. They are denied access to common wells or prevented from participating in festivals because people are afraid of the risk of contagion. Family members reject them because they don’t want to catch the disease or be socially rejected because of those affected. Some people even believe that when a person has leprosy he or she is being punished by the gods for past sins. So, they avoid those who are affected because they don’t want to the wrath of the gods to fall upon them.
Balwant ended up losing his leg because the disease had progressed severely. The doctors had to amputate his leg at the knee. This left him weak and unable to work. To make matters worse, he couldn’t afford to pay for the medical treatments he needed to treat his high blood pressure and diabetes which he had developed. All of these things began to take a toll on Balwant and he decided that death was the only way out. It would relieve him of his suffering, take away his shame and lift the burden that caring for him placed on his family. He thought of hanging himself but he had no strength in his hands or leg. He decided that he would jump into the well near his house.
It was at this moment of despair, resignation and hopelessness that God intervened in Balwant’s life. He sent a Gospel for Asia supported pastor and three Sisters of Compassion, specialized women missionaries to Balwant’s community. After hearing about Jesus and how compassionate He is, Balwant, moved by this, opened up to the pastor and the missionaries and told them all that he was going through and his plan to end it all.
Pastor Daha and the sisters prayed for Balwant and used God’s Word to encourage him. They prayed for him for many days and his health began to improve. He felt a peace that was beyond comprehension–the peace only Jesus can offer. Balwant began to see his life through God’s eyes–precious.
Pastor Daha and the missionaries visited Balwant and his wife regularly. They showed the love of Christ through simple acts such as fetching water, chopping vegetables and even trimming Balwant’s nails, something he couldn’t do for himself. Their care and Jesus’ love made Balwant want to live. “I was emotionally weak and thought to end my life,” he testified, “but I found Jesus in the right time. I thank God that He loves me.”
Sadly, a few months after Balwant found Jesus, he fell ill with jaundice and died. He was right. He found Jesus at the right time and one day he will be among the resurrected dead who will spend eternity with the Lord. On that glorious day when Jesus returns, Balwant will have a new and incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:52-54).
Every year, there are nearly 230,000 new cases of people diagnosed with leprosy. About 60 percent of those cases concern people living in India alone. While leprosy is a curable disease, many men, women and even children find themselves abandoned and scorned because of it. Like Balwant, they live with shame and hopelessness as their constant companions.But God is using His servants to give these precious people hope and new life in Him—and you can help –Gospel for Asia
Pray for those who are living with leprosy. Their world is filled with so much shame and hopelessness. They are abandoned and scorned by relatives, friends and neighbors. They are lonely and suffer from physical and emotional pain. Help Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy ministry to bring love and hope filled life to these people.
Pray that, like Balwant, they will come to know Jesus who loves them and longs to heal them just as He did when He was here on earth. He healed this man who had leprosy on his hands. His big smile and perfectly fine hands testify that the Lord is still in the business of healing. Read about how He also healed Radhika, a 19 year old leprosy patient whose husband left her.
You can help the GFA Leprosy Ministry by praying for:
the healing of leprosy patients
the missionaries who are going and sharing the Gospel with the leprosy patients
more medical personnel to care for and treat the patients
the children whose parents have leprosy
This year, for World Leprosy Day, let us join Gospel for Asia in raising awareness about the hopelessness and rejection that many leprosy patients face and the hope, love, joy and acceptance they can find in Jesus Christ.