The Way, The Truth and The Life

May 28, 2010


As a kid I used to travel from my Grandpa’s town to my parents’ town in a Hapton (Half Tonne) bus. The first stop used to be at the village where a Mission hospital was located. Half an hour stop. A big bill board was posted there, which I used to view every trip. It was well maintained, painted often and was very visible even from long distance. The trips were not too many, only in Deepawali or summer when schools were closed.

As soon as I started to read, the big letters on this board were a good challenge. And the letters were painted as if they smiled.

When I learned to read the board easily, the words became a puzzle. Every time I travelled on this route, I could not avoid them, and I could not solve them.

No one would explain what the board said :

Yeshune mhatale marg, satya aani jeevan meech aahe. Mazya dwaare alyaawachoon pityaakade konee jaat nahee.

(Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. Unless you follow me, you cannot reach the Father)

When I asked Grandpa Anna, he said you grow up and then you will understand what it means. When shall I grow up? I thought every time I read the board.

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We had a cultural programme in our school. I was required to prepare a song to be rendered. During practice sessions, I suggested “Jo Aawadato Sarvaala, Tochee aawade Dewala”, meaning “who is liked by all is liked by God”.

I did not get a chance to present mine, because three other classmates also prepared the same song and I was asked to stay away one day before function.

This was a Godsend, because I could hear the brothers Rufus and Brutus play harmonica during the show. They played both racy and melancholy tunes which I had never heard before. While Rufus was playing the lead, Brutus was in accompaniment with tonal beat or arpeggio. When Brutus played the lead, Rufus supported. They did it with such perfection and involvement that I was totally mesmerized. It was as if they were playing for themselves and not the audience.

I kept watch. I learned that they were students in our high school wing. They also were very tall and beardy like my uncles. They carried their mouth organs with them all the time. They used to arrive early morning on bicycles, just when the school-bell rang or late and disappear on bicycles as soon as or before the school was over. They were available only during recess. As if this was not enough, they had become stars overnight and had admirers around them.

It was good that they had no friends and played down the star status; would not entertain the visitors. But I had to befriend them, even if it took time. I kept on trying everyday and would lie in wait around them.

Weeks passed before they started to speak in monosyllables. Usually they would be completing their home work during the recess or playing small passages in unison on muffled mouth organs.

Eventually the ice broke. They lived in the Mission hospital. They cycled ten kilometers every day just to reach the school. Although they were brothers, they had no other family; no father nor mother. The hospital staff was all that they had. That is why, a doctor there had presented the mouth organs and was teaching them how to play. This was all a bit unbelievable and scary. Life is not like this!

“That is why we have no friends”, Brutus said, ”and who has time for friends anyway?”

Then one day I asked them what that board in front of the Mission hospital meant.

Brutus said, “I do not know, but listen. This harmonica keeps us company on the way to school every day when we cycle? What we play is our only enjoyment? Is it not true? For sure, this harmonica is our life.…. must be the same.”

“So when will you meet your father? Like the board says?” I asked.

“Oh, that. We don’t have father. This here, Rufus, is also not my real brother. We know. But we both feel we are close to our father and mother, when we are happy playing…like on that day during the cultural festival. Understand?”

Half heartedly, I said, “Of course”. Actually, I did not understand at all. And they were not brothers? How was that?

“Learn to play mouth organ, kid.” Rufus said without laughing.

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I had to travel many times on that road. Life went on. The board stayed, and I kept identifing the words. Years later, one of my schoolmates told me that Rufus and Brutus went overseas to study theology. I am not certain that was the complete truth, because Rufus and Brutus had already found their religion- long time ago.

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2 Responses to “The Way, The Truth and The Life”


  1. Nice way to look at it! Anyone (who really looks for it) will find their own unique way.. or door as you mention to reach the ultimate level. And you know it when you find it, just like the anecdote you’ve shared here.

  2. rajeevelkunchwar Says:

    Thanks again.


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