ALEX MATHEW, WHO STOLE THE COOKIES - Dr. Alex Mathew

JOSE AND JANCY – WHO STOLE THE COOKIES? – by Dr. Alex Mathew

JOSE AND JANCY

from “WHO STOLE THE COOKIES?”

My father has cancer of the colon. It is in its final stage. He has excruciating pain. But his heart aches more because of my situation. He knows he has only a few more days to live, perhaps only hours. Yet he asked me to go to counseling traveling nearly 80 km because he wants to see me united with my husband; as soon as possible. I am a nurse, with a B.Sc in Nursing, and have nearly 20 years experience. I completed the degree just 12 years ago, prior to which I was a GNM, and have always worked in the CCU. My wedding to Jose was in 1988 while I was working in Gulf. We have two girls, 12 and 10. Both were born in that Gulf state. My mother was with us for almost a year on both occasions. I was past 30 when I got married and my mother was worried for me during my pregnancies. My father insisted that she should be with me six months before and after my delivery. So things went on fine. When my husband came to join me in the Gulf he got a job in the neighboring country. It was not really a job; he came and joined a cousin of his own who was running a computer place and catering as a side business. At that time he explained his entire original certificate were at the Army HQ, Delhi and it would take some time before he got the document. He claimed he was a B.Com and an MBA both qualification he got privately while serving in the Army. Since my parents were in a sort of hurry to see me married and since the marriage broker assured us of his qualifications, it was not a serious issue at that time. We were given to understand he was a Major in the Army. But it turned out he was a Havildar (sergeant) Major what they call a Regimental Havildar Major. Jose was a pusher. After about 3 years he wanted to expand the scope of the shop by including computer peripherals also for sale. I had raised the maximum I could and I said a definite ‘no’ to his increased pressure on me. By then I was pregnant with our second child. We argued and debated and fought and finally decided to take a loan from a local Shylock, an Arab who had a wife and family in Malappuram; for six months; on the strength of a postdated cheque from me. It was assumed that we would have accumulated that much money through this business and my salary in six months. However, when I got my salary cheque Jose would come up with some pressing need and take away a good part of it. The result was that by the end of six months there was not enough money in the bank to cover the cheque given to the moneylender. The man threatened legal procedures. It was only then I learned that Jose had doctored the cheque and had taken 30,000 Riyals instead of 3,000 Riyals. It all happened so quickly. I didn’t get time to raise the money and settle the deal. Before I realized what was happening I ended up in trouble. I sent out requests through Jose to many patients I have helped to loan me some money. What I didn’t know was within a short period Jose had built up a reputation as a cheat. No one was willing risk any dealings with Jose. I was confined to my home in shame under threat of legal procedures. After another two months I had to be in a similar situation for another fourteen days. My brothers organized to raise some money for me through their contacts. The day after I got out from the mess the second time, I left the country with my two children in utter shame.

News spread quickly in the Malayalam community, of which we were part. I had my reputation to take care of. Abandoned by friends at such times one looses all confidence and courage. It is shame heaped on a shattered image which was built up over years. Now, I am in deep pain over my father. This marriage is not a concern for me. I will soon have to leave the country. Who will take care of my father? My brothers might, if I send them the funds. Jose says: “What Jancy has been feeding you are pure lies. It is true she had a good job in one of the better hospitals in this Arabian Gulf city. It is also true that I made my contacts and started my business using her influence and money. But I looked after her well, before I started the business. I proved my love to her. I cooked and chopped when I was staying home without a job. I would drive her around in the town and in to the beach; take to her friends, places. I never complained even when she was freely mixing with all sorts of people. Her male colleagues make their calls even late in the evenings. I was pleasant to all of them. On days when she had night duty I would take her to the hospital at 11 pm and go and get her in the morning. I was so caring towards her. Although she was a good driver, I was afraid for her to go alone at night. She would say I did that solely to keep an eye on her. But that is not true. I never suspected her. I like my wife to be a social person. I believe that women can build up better and lasting relationships. All these relations were helpful for us to start my business enterprise with the Arab friend. I became friends with these people and we were living in comfort. It is true I took loans from many of these friends. It was not exploiting her friends. They were my friends too and they lent me the money because of my friendship with them. When the business went down I could not give back the money as promised. But it was not an international cheating. I myself was cheated by the Arab. The story about the cheque is somewhat complicated. We took Riyals equivalent to three lakh Rupees. I was to give this money to the Arabs’ mistress in Kerala within six months. As a guarantee my wife had to give the Arab a cheque for three thousand Riyals. By the time I was expected to pay the money in Kerala, I was not able to raise it. We were expecting my brother to sell my car and give the three lakh to the woman in Malappuram. I do not know why he did not do it. Not only that, about 3 weeks after the due date he crashed the car and it was a write off. The Arab got angry and presented the cheque in the bank. Besides the entire savings of my wife too was sunk in the business at the time the cheque bounced. True we could have raised that money if we had known the Arab would present the cheque. When we gave it, it was a sort of guarantee all right. But there was this mute understanding the money would be paid in Kerala. The story of the cheque became widely known and our friends dropped us. I had heavily borrowed from quite a number of people. The situation was very bad. Trouble never comes alone. Jancy was put to shame. I could not show my face to anyone. On a separate charge I was put in jail for three months. Somehow my wife’s brothers managed to raise the money and pay off the Malappuram woman. Then the Arab dropped the charges. Jancy left the country the very same day after the loan was fixed. I must say she is a proud person. The experience has shattered her and I am sorry for that. I stayed on in the country till the day I was released from prison. You see, I did not abandon her in her time of need. She should know how much I love her. Her saying that she wants separation is not right. I know she is planning to go to Germany as she has secured a job there. I promise, I will not be a liability to her. I can stay on here looking after our children. Her brothers will not hear about it. They want her and the children to be with them. They know she will come into substantial income once she goes to Germany. This demand for mutual agreement for divorce in a huff is not fair. It is testimony of her brothers’ greed. You tell me, what have I done that is so unusual and sinful? She is totally under the influence of her brothers who stand to benefit. They say they will look after the children and the father. What commitment they will have for my children other than the money they are focusing on? I know of their love for their father. It was all a big show. Where does this love suddenly spring from? It is again for squeezing the money out of her. I do not want to enter a court for a divorce case. I have had enough of the ‘courts’ in my life. I dread it. Yes, I have acted stupidly in promoting a dead business and incurred heavy losses. Should I lose my family and my children also?” Jose ended his little speech. I was not successful in helping to resolve their problemstrewn family situation as the influence of the brothers, who stood by her in her time of need, was substantial. They were not willing to be part of the counseling process. They had a powerful motivation for financial gain. Forgiveness was something they did not want to hear of. Their agenda is to distance Jose from Jancy by hook or crook, send Jancy to Germany, and maintain the fallacy that they will look after the father and children, keep receiving the remittances from her. Neat financial security for both brothers! I do not think Jancy was blind to the plot. But by now she is too deep into the brothers’ machinations of the issues. They did not at any rate want to be part of a redemptive resolution of Jose-Jancy marriage. Then they all went to Fr. Paul who had been their Parish Priest for some time in the past. After an unsuccessful attempt at solving the convoluted family situation, Fr. Paul and I had a professional exchange of ideas on the matter with two other close friends of ours. It turned out to be a sermon by him to us three. Jose and Jancy were sidelined, I think. The sermon was recorded by one of the friends and he wanted me to include in this book, his rendition of what transpired in the group, as all of us were of the same mind regarding the things the Father was dwelling on. Father Paul had an entrée into their family affairs as their erstwhile pastor which he planned to use to the limit; I inferred from his face. Jose and Jancy thought their experience with the father was a waste, though they sat through the whole of his sermon, stirring uneasily and at times intensely attentive. They knew him as a great preacher and a great singer too, but I doubted whether they trusted his counseling. This is how Fr. Paul took off; “Those who have been in the slimy pit of privation know what it is to be in a dirty dump. There, survival is the issue, suffocation is the experience, and deprivation is the reality, desperation the state of mind. “In a pit there are thousands who are striving to get a foothold. There are severe struggles to gain a little advantage over the others. Man eating man is the rule of the slimy pit. In a pit only strategies have relevance. Doing one better than the other, crushing the popping up head of the next drowning man and getting on the top of him to gain another inch in the upwards climb is never seen as unusual or unwarranted. Every bit of advantage is sought after and every trick is employed”. I think Fr. Paul lost the lady, Jose and her brothers in his sermon! He was on to generalities that would benefit all. He had something up his sleeves and I was curious and so I listened intently. “Tragic failure in saving himself from the enveloping mud either brings in resignation or redoubled effort with a vengeance. Nothing, nothing at all in self-effort serves the sinking sinner to rise up beyond the realm of enveloping darkness. They do not have the least idea what makes them stumble (Proverbs: 19: 20-25)”. “Men have the natural affinity to love darkness. It gives a false sense of security that no one notices their dark acts of hate towards their own kith and kin. Perhaps that is why many prefer to go on dwelling in the hate filled slimy pits of darkness (1 John 2:9). I am not saying Jancy’s brothers are especially bad. They are being just human. Who ordinarily does not want financial benefits if they can manage it the easy way?” This was the only reference to Jancy and her situation in all the discussion so far. Father Paul became very eloquent and continued “But God who said “Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. This is the hope and saving grace for those of us in the slimy pit of mud and mire. Yet man in his priggish denseness prefers to wallow in the dark slime of sins of commission and omission”. The brothers were showing definite signs of disinterest. Jancy and Jose made movements to show interest, but I had my doubts. Father went on unaffected by the foursome. “David had enough reasons to be despondent and hopeless. In the first two verses of Psalms 13 he wails four times: ‘How long O Lord’. By the time he comes to the 6 verse he has the lifted up sensation and shouts out ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He has done bountifully unto me’. He follows that up in Psalms 40:2. ‘He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a place to stand’. “That is the place John describes as man’s place in Jesus the True Vine in the precious words of the Lord himself. ‘I am the True Vine: and you are the branches’. “Here the abiding believer is lifted up from the filth that surrounded him all his life. He is given a place that is firmly attached to the True Vine, which will never ever be submerged in mire. The believer has the assured chance to be above the slime of the world. Not only that the lifted up branch has the assurance to remain in Him, the branch is held firmly attached to the True Vine for keeps. The enveloping tissue of the Vine grasps the branch and makes it an integral part of it. This is the staying power for which those in the dark pit were ready to destroy others with them in their state of impoverished ignorance. It is not competition or asserting or subduing that works. It is His compassionate response to your cry for help that moves Him to reach down and lift you up. A lifted up branch has the permanency associated with the Abiding status. I am in the Lord. That is my mode of being in the world I am part of His body. If that is the truth about me, am I in tune with His life and His image? If I am part of His body it is said of me “you are hidden in Christ” (Colossians 3:3). Being in Christ, hidden in Christ, nothing other than Christ should and need be seen in me. Pretensions to project in me, what I would want others to see are natural human inclinations. We often bring that inclination into implementation by efforts to sharpen our personal image resulting twisted images, which are pitiable demonstrations of our ordinariness”. My, my, what is Father up to? I kept wondering. Abiding was getting a bit too thick for the couple and brothers. Fr. Paul continued ignoring the visible discomfiture of those before him. “His life in me imparts a certain degree of buoyancy helping me rise above the ordinary. I should, in Him have the facility to overcome the pull of the forces of entropy that will send me down the steps to living hell here on earth. Without Him, I will excel at hoarding around me the filth of worldly concerns and the stink of selfish manipulations”. “As a person anchored in Christ, hidden in Him, I should resist from parading my pretensions. I can easily get convinced that the things I do and pretend to have proficiency in, are attained through my own individual excellence. It is such a nice feeling to think in that manner and feel fulfilled in some ways. If I insist on others seeing how excellent I am, what I do amounts to hiding Christ. If I am earnestly devoted to my Lord Jesus and have in fact reached my potential in Him, then no one would ever notice me personally. All that is visible then in me will be Jesus and the grace of God that operates in me. I will be totally unaware of it but yet there will be free flow of His love and goodness from me. All boasting ends here and I become ready to accept the meanest assignment and am happy to declare praises ascribing all glory to His great name”. There was no sign of a break in Fr. Paul’s rambling. There was a shadow of resignation in the eyes of the brothers. “When I realize that God, the incarnate Love Eternal, empowers me share to His love with others as He has taught me, I will want to be utterly unnoticeable as myself. At that point in life I should know individual parading of any assumed importance is in bad taste and thoroughly out of step with the grace and mercy I keep receiving, despite my unworthiness”. “The mark of a saint is not success in the manner that the world understands. He measures me in terms of what I measure out to bless others. My being in the world is according to His purposes, for His purposes. He has made His chief purpose for my life known to me. That is encoded in His one command “Love others even as I love you”. He leaves the specifics to me through the endowments He bestows on me and He keeps watching how best I expedite it as an abiding branch. He takes me up to the heights he has reserved for me. In the cleaner, fresher heights nearer to His holiness I am exposed to elegance and nobility that surrounds Him. I will not be able to think lesser than the personhood he invests in me. The minimum I must and I can do is to be removed from unwholesome petty personal biases and desires. My life is in Him and for His glory. I will have no excuses‘. Attached to Him organically and hidden with Him in God, my fruits are means to glorify His name on earth keep echoing in David’s declaration, as I mentioned earlier “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” –Psalms 13:6. The elder of Jancy’s brothers said “Father, you said that already” Oh so you were listening. That’s good. So the Lord said”-
‘My peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give you’ ‘Your peace Lord’; that is what I desire. That is what I need. That is what you promise. I trust you for giving your peace to me. Even as I desire and trust, I am unsure Lord, my understanding is not very clear about the peace you promise’. Father was into a soliloquy “I am only rather aware of my own efforts at gaining peace. Peace of my making on my own terms. Jose and Jancy, oh yes, I know I am not addressing their painful situation. I am in general putting across to you the path of suffering and how we unwittingly fabricate our own troubles. If you want peace in life, it is there, for you to possess. These Biblical references I make are not meant to bore you, but for you to get the content and practice it. Abiding becomes abiding, only when you abide in Him, rightfully earning the peace He gives. The world we live in is strife-torn. There is hardly any peace of the sort we desire” From there on we thought Fr. Paul went on a personal expedition with his line of thoughts ignoring or forgetting that there were five of us with him in the room. He started talking to Jesus, I think. “Let me define my concept of peace for you Lord. It is very simple Lord; I want to be free of all troubles and I do not want to be bothered by anything. I am supposed to be a pious Christian priest and I want to spend my time quietly doing whatever good I may be able to do for others. Honestly Lord I get uneasy if I do not do things for others, you see Lord I am a good Christian. Pardon me, if I am boasting. But that is not my intention, you know that. If I am left alone to do good as I see fit and if you get me all the provisions for it, I will be more or less peaceful. I assume Lord you agree with me on this” “Having explained my position and as I look into your eyes, I see an amused smile on you. That upsets me. When you have this look I know, you want me to go deeper into your Word. Lead me Lord. “You are OF this world ——————-” –John 8:23 “In the world you will have tribulation” –John 16:33 Thank you Jesus for reminding me that. In my desire for peace and sitting before you I almost forgot that the world around me cannot be ignored. I am to be open enough to acknowledge the fact that in this world, I will have tribulation. Lord as I said I am a practicing, pious, good Christian by what I think, and also by what I think others think about me. But you know better Lord, how hopelessly worldly I am and yet desiring a peace that the world does not and cannot offer”. “I know from your Word that you have chosen me from out of the world and I am not of this world” –John 15:19. It is in that condition and in that selected status that I became eligible to receive the peace that you offer. “As long as I refrain from ‘conforming to the ways of this world’ –Romans 12:1, I will be enabled to continue in your peace. This also I realize as I sit at your feet. What the world has to offer me is a passing phenomenon. There is no permanency in it other than the momentary emotional tickling. (1 John 1:17)? But I know that the anointing I have received is from the Lord Jesus who lives in me. He teaches me all things in the essential truth. The greatest truth of it all that I can hold on to is His assurance. I have a place in Him and can abide in Him (1John 2:27)”. The peace you offer Lord, gives me additional unshakable confidence that I need never be ashamed before you, even as you come again to judge the world (1 John 2:28). I do get a general sense of the quality of the peace that passeth my understanding; because I trust.” God’s wisdom is manifest in choosing to reveal Himself through His Son to be the True Vine and His mercy is demonstrated in designating me to be a branch in His body. Your choosing the analogy of a Vine and its branches to bring home my relationship with my Lord and Savior is not an accident. You have a definite purpose in it, chiefly to make the whole thing intelligible and meaningful to me. As a branch I am an integral organic part. The relationship cannot be any closer than that. The functions and special relationship of the branch to its Vine is far superior to the relationship of a limb to an animal body. “If he had revealed Himself to me through the allegory of an animal, my being a limb in that animal body would have put some wrong assumption and serious doubts in me. But a plant is a primary producer. Its biological function is to make regular food material and pass it on to consumers of the first order. The plant lives. It receives what is provided for it, from its normal environment. The branch that I am, the leaves in me synthesizes food for the whole plant and stores some to be passed as fruits in time. The branch is not a consumer. In Him as a branch, the purpose of my being is not to gain anything for myself, but to receive and pass it on”. “Even as I do that a parallel process of purification of me goes on. I am provided with plenty of water to which I have access through the roots. The roots of the vine absorb and send up water into me for my basic needs and constant cleansing”. Fr. Paul got into a serious monologue there, deeper than the earlier one; clean forgetting us in the room with him. He was stealing sideways glances at us all. We were stuck by his concentration and commitment to what he was reciting, as if from a poetry book of old. “As a branch I transpire several times my own weight in water every day. This keeps me healthy and clean, taking away all unwanted material through transpiration. If transpiration slows down due to atmospheric conditions I am enabled to expel waste through exudation of liquid water. The idea is, as long as I remain in Him I am given means to maintain purity. I need to be holy as He is holy. He does that through constant and continuous cleaning process”. As an animal limb I would be free to engage in searching and obtaining things for me to keep and enjoy. The animal body is a consumer, endeavoring to meet all its needs from other living things, never giving anything back to the ones who serve it other than its products of excretion. It is more concerned with its own well being through some essential coordination from which it has no escape. An animal of the first order of consumption grows and is consumed by other animals of a higher order in the food chain. A limb ends with the self-seeking consumer animal, to whichever order it may belong. It is a different story with a plant”. “By making me a branch, He has elevated me to the noble heights, to be in a position to produce fruits from His provisions and pass it on. Oh! I do not want to be anything else other than be a source of blessing to others in some way; of use to others in need of filling. He tells me “I will fill you, go on filling others with which I fill you”. I hear you saying further “All your needs as a branch are met in me. I will never let you go. You are my very own. Is that what you mean father?. Something was stirring the heart of the elder brother”. ‘In Abiding there are no walls around us. Even if we want to be alone there are bridges across to others. An ordinary Christian, in principle cannot be lonely. He is in the company of saints. He has ready access to fellow believers. Once we have a place in you, the True-Vine, it is our assurance that nothing can come in between the relationship unless we allow it”. “It is true some infection may happen from the pathogens in the soil as in the air. You, in Christ the Vine, are resistant to infections. The branches are normally expected to be resistant as the mother plant. However by the intensity of a pathogenic condition, the density of distribution of the pathogen that is infesting the branch and its immediate environment, it may pose a danger to the susceptible branch”. “What I am talking about is the individual Christian in his Abiding life style may face an onslaught of temptations, desire for more and more comforts, the like of it Jancy’s brothers are fighting for. Such temptations are to be fought by the internal resources; the indwelling Holy Spirit, that is available to the believer. This is exactly how it happens when a branch is subjected the virility of a pathogen. The potent life giving sap that comes to the branch from the vine helps to fight the virus, bacteria or fungus and restores the health of the branch. Here money can be translated as the virus, bacteria and fungus which infect mankind” “Now that I have said so much and since you have been good enough to sit through my babbling, let me say a bit more. An external application of a fungicide or bactericide will make the restoration easier. In the same way the spiritual resources available to the believer, in the form of pastoral care, fellowship of saints, prayer, in-depth Bible study, participating in the Lords table and so on can help to produce a cure which can lead to healing”. “These are surface dressings, filling, healing and health is through the life-giving sap”. Every cell in the abiding branch must open up to receive the inflowing healing. In the vine there may be branches, which are dying down with infection or due to wilting. The branches cherishing sin and self-indulgence may unwittingly slog itself off from its source of nurture. The secret is constant awareness and continuous receiving of all the inputs from the source of healing that is the TrueVine. Pity we do not grasp the depths of these simple facts”. “In none of these problems do we stand alone. The problems we face are realities for all. Their experience and their handling of crippling problems will be of positive value to all. This is where the need for fellowship of believers becomes important. I need others for me to become a functional person. My ‘personhood’ has a chance to be closer to functional level in the company of believers. By the same standard I am needed in my fellowship/community to usher in wholeness in others”. “I am complete in Him. As I am in Him along with other abiding believers in Him, the flawlessness of the body is the cumulative combined articulated vigor of the oneness. No one is alone. I cannot in isolation constitute to the health of the whole, though my upright contribution is essential to the total splendor of a life in Him for all”. “I have not said anything pointedly about Jose, his wife and her brothers. I was more concerned about your grasp of the human predicament which would help us all in dealing with human situations. I see a total solution in abiding which need not be seen and accepted by everyone. Greed and lust are the two major issues in different forms that devastate human lives. But people see it as others harming them. So in the counseling room 90% of the time we hear people complaining about others non-stop; all the time they project themselves honest, pure and chaste, holier than all else. Well, we need to keep that in mind. If men can discover whom they belong to and where their secure place in life is, a whole lot of problems will wither away. Anyway thanks for not running away from my prosaic imposing.” “Oh, no, no, no father. We were benefited immensely” “We sense the intensity of our selfishness”. It was again the elder brother. “You see my children, I love teaching more than counseling” Only Jancy said “How will I comfort my father? I do not want to go with Jose”. Fr. Paul finally started saying something that directly mattered in the life of Jancy “You can Jancy, if you really choose to. That small step depends on what decision you make in your relationships. Are you serious to find a solution to your situate ion? Which is important to you? Your brothers’ obvious intentions or the pain of your father and husband? The sudden rage in the faces of the brothers was unmistakable. Fr. Paul deliberately ignored them. If you search diligently, you would find sparkling traces of love encrusted in Jose‘s for you. Pick what you prefer. It is not my province to advice you as a counselor. But I stand before you in a different relation; you were my sheep for some years. Lean toward pain and cause a wave of soothing healing to wash over you. Search your heart; get a whiff of the burning greed nursed by your brothers. Look at their eyes now and satisfy yourself. What do you want? Pick what you want. Discard all I said. It was tiring for you listening to big things, which made some movements in you without your realizing it. You now know the worthlessness of life as you go at it alone. God makes the difference in life and offers you a breakthrough in your identification with Him in abiding. That should lead you to arrive at a decision. Jose is an ordinary make of a husband. Your brothers are ordinary men who want to get what they can and when it is available so easily igniting your hostility to Jose” . The brothers shuffled out of the room noisily cursing the Father. That is my blunt way of leading with cases like yours. I can say this as part of my Pastoral obligation, but Alex will not be able to tell you this in his capacity as a counselor. I bored you to tedium to open you up to simple down to earth realities which you need to take a look at. I insist on it lest you come to regret pretty soon. Good day my child.

Father—

Yes Jancy?

“Thank you”.

Are Jancy’s problems over or are they escalating?

What are her options?

Think

© ALEX MATHEW

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