Written by Jennifer Azubuike (To enjoy this story, read part one here)
“Where did you say you worked?” The man asked in his thick Eastern accent while his assistant wrote it down for Bart to read.
“In Syracuse sir.”
“Syracuse is quite a distance from here. Why did you move here?”
“I could not find a job there sir, but I am very competent in home administration. Besides, I also want to be closer to my family.”
“I am curious, what happened to your hearing?”
“I was a sickly child. A severe infection took my hearing away in my early teens.”
“I see. Anyway, your presentation looks good though it is hard to employ you without a reference on your competence. However, I am willing to take a chance on you. I do not need a home administrator. I just need personal care for my young son. He is my only child and heir. Unfortunately, he is often afflicted with a strange illness and although he has the best care that money can afford, he needs to be monitored at all times. It looks like you have experience in more sophisticated jobs. Can you do this one?”
Bart smiled, “Sir, I think I understand how you feel about your son. I promise to support your son in every way I can.”
Aerowal stared at Bart in silence for a minute. In his head, he felt silly about employing a handicapped man to care for Mira yet there was peace in his heart about him out of the two dozen persons he had already interviewed.
“Okay, I will give you the job then. Just don’t make me regret it.”
* * * * *
[Back in Prison]
Yati took a seat beside Joe and nudged him slightly. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I have been thinking a lot about my mother lately. I just wish there was a way to tell her I am alive and well.”
“You think your brother would not give her a hint on what happened?” Yati asked.
“And risk being held liable? I doubt it.”
“Will you leave this place anytime soon?”
“I don’t know. My case has not been decided. I feel forgotten, somewhat but I don’t care. I just wish she would know that I am alive.”
“You sound like you have given up on yourself.”
“I have accepted my fate. That way I don’t despair or hope. But if I have to choose between either, it will not be hope.”
“Why? Was your crime that bad?”
“It was bad alright.” Joe shrugged “But my posture is not about it. I just think I am unfortunate. Too unfortunate to hope for anything.”
Yati took a long look at Joe and was afraid the boy was becoming distant from himself and slowly slipping into a dark place. He had seen that happen before and it didn’t end well. He had lost a friend at the prison where he served the first half of his sentence. The man was found hanging from the roof of his cell early one morning. Before it happened, there was no indication that it was coming except that he was dispirited in the days leading up to it. It surfaced most in his mood and tone of voice. Yati felt so broken by the incident that he had to beg to be transferred to a different prison to continue his sentence.
Therefore, with Joe, Yati felt the urgency to do something. “Listen Joe, I am 52 years old. Can you trust me to tell you some truths?”
Joe simply shrugged. He has bonded enough with Yati to trust his good nature.
“You are a special kid. You are not only blessed with healing skills, you have a heart of compassion and service. I know you have been through a lot to want to be an atheist and I respect that, but can I ask you some questions?” Joe shrugged again.
“What if the God of your mother heard your prayer, and that of your mother, but His plan is different from your expectations? What if your life trajectory was not meant to follow the familiar? If you knew you’re a piece in a puzzle that needs to be put in a particular position for a big picture to come together, would you dare to hope?”
“Well, if I knew that for sure. Maybe, but I don’t.”
Yati continued “You could have died but you’re not, so what if there is a purpose for all of this? Besides, your case is undecided, meaning that it could go in any direction so there is a reason to hope. Listen, If you believe that this place will not see the end of you, it will not.”
Although Joe mostly shrugged through Yati’s speech, a tiny spark did light in his heart. Maybe he could hope, for his mother’s sake.
* * * * *
Bart was with nine-year-old Mira in the back garden, when the little boy complained of headache and asked to be taken inside. Bart lifted him up into his arms and for the first time noticed his body temperature was significantly warm. As soon as he put him down, he sent for his nurse. All attempts to break the boy’s fever were abortive.
As soon as Aerowal received word on Mira’s condition, he passed ranks to a junior officer and raced down to be with his son. The boy’s medical specialist was sent for but before the man would arrive, the boy had seized due to the long uncontrolled fever and slipped into unconsciousness. He was expected to revive after a few hours like in the past, but he stayed unconscious. The doctor made it clear to Aerowal that if Mira does not revive by the third day, then the chances of him ever reviving or returning to normal even if he revives was very slim.
By the second day, there was great panic in the commander’s household. Aerowal was desperate to try any and everything for his son. Unfortunately, no suggestion brought any change or improvement. By evening of that day, the hope of saving the boy was dwindling fast.
Bart approached Aerowal as he knelt beside his son talking and sobbing quietly.
“May I have a moment to speak with you sir?”
“Not now, Bart.” Aerowal shook his head to decline.
“It is about Mira.” At the mention of his son, the commander rose to full length and faced Bart.
“Speak. What about him?”
Aerowal’s height combined with his great physique was even more intimidating for Bart at such proximity. Bart swallowed hard. “I may know someone who could help but…but first I have a confession to make.”
Up until that moment, Bart had worked as instructed alongside everyone running helter skelter to save Mira. He had hoped the doctors would save him. Since hope was clearly dwindling he started to think more and more about Joe, his savior, back when he was in prison, but there was no way to mention him to his boss without revealing that he himself was an ex-convict. He never revealed that part of his past to his employer. Nonetheless, he told the entire story to Aerowal while apologizing profusely for keeping that detail about himself from him.
While Aerowal patiently listened to Bart, what stood out to him was the potential for his son to be saved. As difficult as it may seem to get to this healer Bart described, he was a desperate man that will go any length.
* * * * *
Syracuse was outside the jurisdiction of the Eastern states where Aerowal resides and could exert any influence. As soon as he confirmed details about the prison, he wrote to his Governor, Bezui, requesting help to secure the release of a certain prisoner that could help his son. The Governor obliged and wrote to the Chief Judge of Syracuse district, but the Chief Judge declined citing that Joe was a state prisoner. Desperate, the Governor wrote to the Prime minister of Syracrus explaining the situation. Thankfully, Bezui had maintained a good relationship with the State of Syracuse. The Prime minister, after confirming the identity and ability of Joe, overrode the Chief Judge and ordered for Joe to be sent down to Vexus in the company of soldiers.
Joe arrived the morning of the fourth day and was immediately led to where Mira lay. He assessed the situation and knew right away that it was a unique and delicate one; meaning that the typical things he knew would not save this situation. However, in unusual situations in the past, he would naturally get inspirations which he’d trust his guts to follow but strangely enough he was coming up completely blank standing beside the boy.
Joe asked to be left alone with Mira. Perhaps, complete quietness might clear his mind but after two hours he still could not come up with any ideas. He gave up trying, and decided to break to Aerowal that he could not help. Just then Bart walked in to check in and see if the healer needed anything.
“Do you need anything?” Bart asked Joe.
“There will be no need to continue.” Joe wrote on the little board attached to Bart’s waistband
“Why?” Bart was baffled.
“I don’t know what to do.” Joe admitted. “Maybe, If I had come earlier it would have been easier.”
Bart was bewildered. Joe was the best medicine man or boy he knew. He did not work with sophisticated instruments like other doctors he had seen; but with pure, natural substances like herbs he had not known him to fail in nursing anyone back to health. He had been so confident and overjoyed that Joe was coming. How does he not know what to do? And how was he to face his own boss with such news?
“Sorry Bart.” Joe patted Bart as he readied to exit the room.
“Wait!” Bart commanded rather than asked. “You once told me you worked for your mother, right? What would she do in this situation?”
Joe smiled. Bart must have misunderstood. He might have worked for his mom as a boy but the whole healing idea started with him. He was going to answer Bart when the question suddenly re-echoed in his head. What would my mother do?
Mrs Romano never ran from any situation regardless of the difficulty it presented. It is the formidable quality he knew his mother for. The worst of situations she would address on her knees, in prayer, first then face it with the confidence of a warrior. Joe walked back to the sick bed and stared long and hard in the face of the boy and for the first time noticed the peace that that face wore. It almost looked like he was asleep. What would my mother do?
Bart had noticed the wheel turning in Joe’s head and quietly back out of the room.
“My mother would pray. That’s what she would do first.” Joe turned around but Bart was gone.
He sighed. There was a little problem though, Joe thought, he does not have the kind of relationship his mother has with the God she prayed to.
It is what your mother would do. Why don’t you atleast try? The voice in his head was almost audible – as if Bart was still in the room with him.
Reluctantly, he knelt down like he used to do with his mother and said a simple prayer. “God of my mother, Mrs Beth Romano, if you still hear her prayer, please show me what to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
As he rose to his feet, it felt like the door of inspiration was unlocked and thrown wide open. Ideas flooded him all of sudden. Immediately, he ran to the door of the room, banged on it and called for assistance and materials for treatment. Half an hour later he was infusing some herbs in special oil and water. One and a half hours later, he had mixed a special tincture and started treatment. The ideas won’t stop flowing until he is confident that all that needs to be done for that stage has been done. Even after the first stage of treatment, the boy did not stir but his confidence was so high that the rest of the household believed alongside him.
In the middle of the night, he felt the urge to pray again which he did. In the early hours of the fifth day, the urge returned and he obeyed but by this time, he was exhausted from keeping awake so fell asleep beside the boy.
Meanwhile, the medical specialist that gave the three days ultimatum initially had returned on the fourth day to check on the situation. He mocked when he heard about a naturalist treating Mira; he felt insulted that Aerowal had not trusted his words as a professional. He then swore on his years of experience that the boy would not live past the fifth day and instigated Aerowal to make the naturalist give up on his charade so he can focus on preparing for a befitting burial. Aerowal, however, stubbornly held out in hope because his heart grieved for his only son. By the morning of the fifth day, however, he lost faith. He decided to see his son one last time before he took his last breath like the doctor had said, then he will prepare for burial.
At sunrise, Bart escorted the commander into Mira’s room. To their surprise, they found Joe fast asleep on the bed beside Mira. The interesting thing was that Mira has his hand wrapped around Joe’s neck. Aerowal turned to Bart.
“What is this?” Aerowal, who still struggled with his sign language skill and mostly just tried to talk to Bart with hand gestures in addition to his words, pointed at the sleeping position. “Is this part of the healing process?” If the situation had not been serious, it would have been hilarious.
Bart, flushed with embarrassment for Joe, moved closer and tapped him until he awoke. Joe stirred but had to rescue his neck from the grip of his bedmate. It took a minute for it to sink in that the grip meant that the gripper had life in him. While the trio was still figuring out the scene. Mira rubbed his eyes and opened them.
Bart screamed for joy. Aerowal rushed to his son and lifted him. Joe just sat there unable to move from shock.
The household celebrated a great deal. Joe stayed a few more days to nurse Mira back to perfect health. The commander swore he would not allow Joe return to prison but he could not legally hold him back since his case involved a death.
Aerowal felt he had to do something. He pulled all strings using his influence as a high ranking officer in Vexus and hired the best attorney. Joe’s case was argued. Unfortunately, it was drawn out because the plaintiff was a wealthy man and a big stakeholder in the economy of Syracuse. However, the case came under close scrutiny. The only daughter of the man had committed suicide when Joe declined her advances. Although Joe was not directly involved in her death, the anger of such a loss rested on him.
Joe’s attorney diligently researched Joe’s case and found that the wealthy man had bought Joe while on a trip abroad. So he brought a case of human trafficking against the wealthy stakeholder which unfortunately for him was significant crime in Syracruse. To appease all involved, Joe was sentenced to two years only since he had been unjustly held without hearing for so long.
The days leading to Joe’s release, he mostly sat alone in his cell and reflected on his life. His happy childhood, kidnap, years of anger then apathy and the events at the Aerowal’s. Most times he would just cry. He had since started believing and praying again but this time with the mindset that he is only a piece in the puzzle. So, when he prayed, it is with the faith that God will do as He wills, yet cared about him, nonetheless.
Then he would chant his mother’s favorite scripture “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Aerowal was present to receive Joe on the day of his release. When Joe agreed, he sent him for formal medical training. Joe would later open his own medical practice in Vexus. At one point he found his mother and they were reunited.
For many Christians, our frustrations are a result of unmet expectations which is understandable because we have entrusted our lives to God and expect Him to take care of it. Thus, when every other person’s life trajectory follows a familiar pattern, we naturally expect the same for ourselves e.g., get married at a certain time, have kids, get a desired job etc. Discouragement set in when they don’t happen or happen quick enough. But what if God’s plan is different for you? As a piece in His puzzle, would you let go and let Him? It comes down to trusting that He is alive, able and cares about you. For indeed, His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. If you are yet to believe in the Lord, I encourage you to open your heart to Him. God is good and cares about you.
Thank you for sticking with me to the end. If you missed the beginning part of this story, find it here
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