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Once Upon a Time, an Angel Walked with Me
by John Harricharan

It was a small fishing and farming village where I was born. My forefathers had traveled from India to work on the farms of the only British Colony on the northern coast of South America. In the course of time the village was settled by Muslims, Hindus and others who had converted to Christianity.

There was peace and relative prosperity. People of various religions cooperated with one another, tolerating the multitude of beliefs that had become normal in such a diverse society. My parents were Hindus, but we had many Muslim and Christian friends. During religious holidays we would all visit the various churches, noting more similarities than differences in beliefs.

At an early age I started attending the Christian churches as well as my own Hindu temple. Later on I became a Christian and, though I still visited the Hindu temple, most of my religious activities centered around the small Christian church at the far end of the village. My father, a liberal Hindu, encouraged my church-going activities and even accompanied me on a number of occasions. And so it was that I was baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran denomination.

Village life was generally peaceful and quiet in those days. Everyone knew one another and the daily routine continued in a set pattern. On many an evening the older men would gather in a common area, talk about crops and farming or discuss the weather and fishing.

Then there were times when the younger boys would sit and listen to the elders recalling stories of their youth. We would sit by a wood fire, fanned by the trade winds of the Atlantic, totally entranced by the tales of guardian angels, friendly ghosts and unseen influences that had made their presence felt. I grew up believing as Shakespeare did that "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Village life revolved around sowing and reaping, between the dry season and the wet season with little boys growing up to be young men and, sooner or later, the young men marrying the young women. At that time high school was not mandatory, but was considered a privilege and an honor.

Some of us were fortunate enough to attend high school in the city while others went to work on the farms with parents and relatives. My dad had only a fourth grade education but believed so strongly that he should educate his children. Thus, I was one of the fortunate ones, and the first in my family, to attend high school.

I have always felt a guiding hand in the affairs of my life. Even my earliest memories reflected a wonderful world with friendly beings who were willing to help me. It was as if an angel sat on my shoulder and whispered to me when I wasn't sure which way to go or what to do.

It was during my second year of high school that an incident occurred which was to have a major effect on my entire life. To attend high school in those days, one had to pay certain tuition fees. Because of some family financial problems, my fees were not paid in time and I was asked to leave school.

When I returned home and told my dad what had happened, I could see the sadness in his eyes and hear it in his voice. He had worked hard to earn the money for my school fees and now there was confusion and embarrassment.

My dad, a simple farmer, always seemed to listen to his own inner voice. After a moment of silence, he looked at me again and said, "There is a man of importance who lives in the city, not too far from your school. I hear that he is very kind and that he helps many people. He is also a pastor of a Lutheran church and, so, may be inclined to help us, especially since you attend Lutheran services every week. We will talk to him about this problem and then we'll see what can be done."

Next morning, bright and early, my dad and I set out on the long trip to the city. We caught the bus at 5:30 am, reached the ferry at 7:00 and finally, around 9:00 am, arrived in the city. We asked directions and eventually ended up at the man's home.

I was only twelve or thirteen, but I vividly remember feeling a sense of excitement as if something extraordinary were about to happen. My dad rang the doorbell and waited nervously. I could tell that he was worried and anxious.

What if this man couldn't or wouldn't help us and we were forced to return to the village without any hope? I'd never be able to finish high school and my future would be spent working on the farm as did my father and his father before him. These thoughts crossed my mind as the door opened and a maid wearing a starched, white uniform asked our business.

My father told her that we were there to speak to the master of the house and that we'd be very grateful for a few moments of his time. "Do you have an appointment?" she asked. When my dad said that he did not realize that an appointment was necessary, the maid replied, "The master is very busy. You'll have to make an appointment and return another day. He just can't see everyone who turns up here."

My heart fell as those ominous words echoed through my entire being. I glanced at my dad, but he held his head high and said, "We'll wait." Before the maid could say another word, we heard footsteps and a regal looking man came through the door. The maid held the door open for him as he looked at us with kind, but questioning, eyes.

"I was just leaving," he said, "but I do have a few moments. What can I do for you?"

"We need your help, sir," my father answered.

"Come with me. Let's sit in my office and you can tell me what you need."

We followed him up the stairs into his office. He motioned for us to sit while he remained behind the giant desk that occupied one corner of the room. My father introduced himself and explained why we were there. The man listened intently and took some notes. He asked a few questions and then said to us, "Go home and don't worry anymore about this. I know the principal of the school and will take care of this whole business of fees. I'll also make sure that it never happens again... ."

He didn't finish the sentence because there was a loud bang on the door and it immediately flew open. A little girl, pedaling furiously on a tricycle rushed into the room. She could not have been more than five or six years old.

The man smiled and said, "That's my daughter, Mardai." She turned and headed out the door, running over my foot with her tricycle in the process. She looked around, smiled, said "Sorry," and was gone.

As I sat there, a strange feeling came over me and a still, small voice whispered in my ear "You'll marry her one day." I quickly regained my composure as my dad thanked the good man for his help and we left. And that is how I met the girl who, years later, was to become my wife. It was as if my guardian angel orchestrated the entire affair so that I could get a preview of coming events.

The problems at the high school were resolved just as Mardai's father had promised. The years went by and every once in a while, I'd think about the time my dad and I went to visit him in the city.

It appeared so unlikely that I would ever see them again. They were from the city and socialized with the highest levels of society, while I was from a small country village of fishermen and farmers. "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet... ." But the angels of God looked down on this country boy and smiled.

Finally, I graduated from high school and the world seemed to be full of opportunities for a young man starting out to seek his fortune. And then word came that the church at the outskirts of the village would be expanded and a very famous pastor would temporarily stay in the parsonage there until the expansion plans were accomplished.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the new pastor was the very one my dad and I had visited years earlier. I discreetly inquired as to whether his family would be staying there with him, but was disappointed to learn that they would visit only on weekends. I was told that he had only one child, the daughter whom I had first seen on the tricycle.

Then one day I saw her again. This time she was not a little girl riding a tricycle, but a young lady with all her dreams and hopes shining brightly. Again, that strange other-worldly feeling came over me as I looked at her. Again, the voice whispered in my heart and soul, "She is the one you'll marry. She will be your wife and help you do the things you came here to do." The angels seemed to have a way with words. It seemed so ridiculous, and yet, the prospect felt so right.

The time came for me to leave the country in order to further my education. With the help of Mardai's father, I was able to enter an American university with a full scholarship.

University life was very different from life in the little village. In time I graduated with honors and went on to graduate school. I had my share of girlfriends, but all through the years, every once in a while, I would think of Mardai. I even wrote poems about her and dreamed of seeing her again.

Then one day I received a letter from her dad. He said that the family had relocated to Canada to start a new life, leaving all the political problems and civil unrest behind. He mentioned that they would be spending the summer with relatives in New York City and that he'd like me to visit and have dinner with them, if possible.

The threads of time weave strange patterns in the fabric of life and so it was, through strange coincidences and synchronicities that I found myself in New York City. By this time, I was working for a Fortune 500 company and my future seemed bright. All I could say was the angels of love and mercy had smiled upon me, again.

Soon after, there was another relocation as the pastor moved his family to a small town in Pennsylvania. I moved from the city to a town across the river in New Jersey and would visit Mardai and her family every once in a while. The more I visited, the better friends we became.

Some things seemed to be destined. They make no sense otherwise. If we try to reason them out further, they only serve to confuse. Thus it was that Mardai and I were brought together across oceans and continents and time.

No longer the little girl, she had grown into a beautiful, charming young woman. The words of the Angel of Love, finally, were fulfilled. Mardai and I became engaged and, a year later, we were married. She was only nineteen and I was all of twenty-six.

Our marriage was one of those special unions that seemed to have been made possible with the help of other-dimensional friends. A few years later, our first child, Malika was adopted followed by her brother, Jonathan, four years later.

For more information on John�s exciting books, visit John Harricharan's Insight2000