The Return Gift
My grandmother was a very pious and religious lady. But for her, religion was much more than mere rites and rituals. Religion for her was an art of living and giving. One day just before Christmas my grandfather took along my grandmother to the bank to withdraw his monthly pension. Her joy knew no bounds when she learnt that there was a rise in her husband’s pension. She thought of giving a fair amount to the Church as her Christmas contribution.
It was Christmas Eve. The cold wintry breeze blew as the whole family walked down the narrow village road to the church. My grandmother was slowly following them. Suddenly at the crossroads she saw an old man all curled up on a gunny bag. He was shivering in the bitter cold.
She paused for a while, and as everyone else walked past, she bent forward and placed a five hundred rupee note in the old man’s hand. He was shocked. He did not know it was Christmas but he did see Jesus in the gentle face of my grandma.
He held her hand in his own. He had no words, but a warm smile, a spark in his weary eyes, a glow on his face-the glow of gratitude and thankfulness. The night was dark yet my grandma distinctly saw the face of the old man light up, and she was overwhelmed. Her heart was full of joy-the joy of giving. As she walked by she lovingly whispered “Jesus, this is my Christmas gift for you.”
Next morning it was Christmas day. Everyone had gathered around the dinning table. “Grandma, come soon the breakfast is ready.”
Grandma was slowly getting ready in her bedroom. She had put on one of her favourite skirts which she had not used for quite some time. She just happened to put her hand in her skirt pocket and was surprised by a strange feel. It was not her handkerchief, she very carefully took out the folded paper, but it was not a paper, it was a one thousand rupee note. She could not recollect who had given her this money. She had never owned a thousand rupee note. She was dumbfounded. She looked carefully at the note in her hands. A gentle voice seemed to whisper in her ears
“Good morning Theresa, this is Jesus, this is my Christmas gift for you.”