“Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.”
― Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Lucky was smart. She wasn’t particularly beautiful, but had enough guts and drive to make up for anything she lacked. She was an orphan with a few uncaring relatives who had nothing, yet, you knew she would be alright. She would make something of her life.
We looked after Lucky for a few years as she entered adulthood. It was apparent that Lucky would manage. After she trained as a teacher, she wanted to marry. We weren’t very pleased with her choice.
You see, Raju wanted to marry her, but he displayed an extremely questionable character. His reputation preceded him like bad news. Though his character was less than stellar, we couldn’t outright forbid her to marry him. Instead, we advised and counselled, hoping and praying she would understand the gravity of marrying this man.
The girls we cared for all had the same fear about marriage. Their worst nightmare was a husband who drank and then would beat them. That was the reality of their young lives —seeing their mothers beaten and abused. They knew first-hand the poverty that resulted from “drink”. And though horrific, having a husband who drinks was the reality they expected. The best outcome they could hope for would be to marry anyone —as long as he didn’t drink. They didn’t have the luxury to indulge in daydreams about anything fanciful. We sent Lucky to train as a teacher, as that was her first choice of careers. Lucky became a teacher, and a good one. She took great efforts to make sure that each child learned the subject, and enjoyed playing with them. She loved children and especially the little ones. I knew she’d one day make an excellent mother.
Yip and I had just started a school, beginning with Nursery and Kindergarten class. We had a dozen students in each class, and Lucky was one of the main teachers. When we first decided to run the school, it was agreed that I would not be involved. Well, that sure didn’t happen. I was learning the ropes of being Principal. Our eldest child was in Kindergarten, and our second one in Nursery. They were part of the reason we started the school, along with the fact there were no other English medium schools for 30 km.
Our third child was a one-year-old, and because I couldn’t leave her alone at home, I took her with me. She was quite a distraction, but in some ways a great addition to the class. She forced the children who loved to fuss over her to speak English. Our school, from the very beginning, was known for teaching students English. Most English medium schools in the village areas used Hindi regardless.
When the school began I told my children, “Now when you are at school, you must call me “Ma’am like all the other students.” Hmmm. Instead, the whole class ended up calling me “Mom.”
It was around that time, in 1989, that my husband had to travel to New Delhi for some work. While at the Embassy, he ran into an acquaintance. Someone he’d known, but was not close to personally. They met as Yip was ascending the stairs and Jeff, was descending.
“Oh, Yip! Hello!”
“Hi there Jeff!” And that was the extent of conversation expected by Yip beyond a short exchange of pleasantries. But that didn’t happen. The conversation was most amazing.
“Yip, by any chance, do you need a car, because God just told me to give you mine?”
“Ah … well, yes, I guess we do need a car.” We had actually been praying for a car because our little 1964 crank-up, canvas-covered Willy’s jeep had just died. When the crank was no longer able to start her up, prayer worked. Now prayer was also having some frustrations.
“Well, then, that’s really great,” said a jubilant Jeff. My car is parked right over here.” Then he frowned and politely asked, “If it’s not too much trouble, can I give it to you tomorrow?”
Yip, totally awe-struck, could hardly speak. “Yeah, sure! Great!”
Yip drove back from Dehli in the fanciest car we’d ever seen: an Isuzu equipped with power steering, CD player, air-conditioning, plush seats, and even seat-belts! Quite the dream. But it was real —and timely. My mother was coming to visit. She was paraplegic and couldn’t travel without seat-belts. It certainly was the answer to prayer that we were looking for.
And so, Yip made a triumphant, quite surprising entry back onto the campus where we lived with the children we looked after. It was then that Lucky and Raju became engaged. She decided against our counsel and soon after their engagement the consequences of marrying Raju began to show. Raju, the man she wanted to marry had nothing to offer financially, but he convinced Lucky that they would manage. Lucky, easily convinced, displayed her characteristic fearlessness.
A few months prior, Lucky’s sponsor died and left an inheritance for her. We put the money into a bank account and used it for her training and further financial needs, which her sponsor would have wanted. Lucky, Raju, and everyone around saw our wonderful new-used car.
Much to our great surprise, Lucky laid a court-case against us. Immediately we understood that Raju was the root of her actions. His strong influence seemed to have manipulated her thoughts and understanding beyond repair. She officially went to court and claimed that we had used her inheritance to buy the “new” car. I was utterly devastated and thoroughly distraught that she would believe that, or want to put a case against us. All the care and love and time that I’d given her personally seemed to count as nothing to her. It made me very sad.
So, I cried.
I cry out loud. Oh God, with my voice, I plead mercy. Without shame I complain. I tell him all my troubles. Lord, when my spirit fails, you know my path. You see the trap laid for me… I’m the catch. On my right, no one there notices me…
No refuge, no safe house, no one loves me. I cry out, oh, God, I cry out. You are my refuge, my safe house, my portion. My lighthouse that leads me home. Attend to me, deliver me; crushed in prison… oh Lord, come set me free.
Oooooo ummmmmmmm oooooo uuuuuaaaaaahhh
I said to Yip, “Why? Why are we here when no one wants us here? Why are we here?” Yip looked at me sternly and said; “We’re here because God wants us here. We go when God wants us to go.”
I think I had that sort of dumbfounded look on my face —the look that says why didn’t I know that? It was all that needed to be said. I got it. I understood. And being satisfied, I left my pity-party behind, as well as the anger of betrayal. Lucky had traded all my care for personal gain. But I knew it would do her no good. She was the one to be pitied. The court case died. Lucky lost out. She taught all her life, and she was a good teacher. Her husband became a paraplegic early in their marriage. They had two sons and three daughters, and she was a wonderful mother. Lucky died of cancer. I look back at Lucky with much love and respect, for all that she faced in life, for all she overcame.
Some people complain because
God put thorns on roses,
While others praise Him
For putting roses among thorns.