Before you read-
I will try to post a part every week, on Sabbath. However, I might miss a week, but please try to be patient with me. I’m trying, but you might have to wait a while! Also, while I try to do research, some (or most) of it might not be entirely accurate, such as maybe a certain town that I mention would actually be in the deep jungle instead of in the city. Just read and enjoy! Now, for my story.
On the night of a new moon, in a little mud hut in the jungle of India, a baby born. The new mother cried out, but not of joy – of anguish. It was a girl, and a firstborn as well. Useless. Believing she was cursed by the gods, she named the child Shapa, meaning ‘cursed.’ As she grew up, poor little Shapa was always told what a disappointment she was to her family. Her mother did end up having 3 more children, all boys. Devanand, meaning ‘joy from the gods,’ Mohan, meaning ‘delightful,’ and Devmani, ‘jewel from god.’ They were all praised whenever they did well at something, and quietly reminded not to do something again when they did something wrong. If they made a mistake, they were given help and encouragement to try again. If Shapa did something well, it went completely unnoticed. If she did something wrong, she would be scolded, told what a disappointment and disgrace to her family she was, even beaten sometimes. If she made a mistake, her family would tell her she was of no use to them and would never be able to do anything right or amount to anything. Poor little Shapa would cry into her sleeping mat at night, confused as why the gods would bother allowing her to exist if she was such a horrible child. She lived for 12 years in depression and keeping to herself. She was very quiet, only speaking when spoken to, and even then talking as little as possible. She never even tried new things, and always tried to make everything she did perfection. If she made the tiniest mistake, she would panic, and try to fix it before her parents noticed. If they noticed – well, it wouldn’t turn out well. If things got really bad, Shapa would run into the jungle to her favorite tree until she was sure everyone was in bed. Then she would sneak in the hut and by morning all would be forgotten. One day her father came home from work with some interesting news. They were ready to eat a hearty meal of turtle curry on rice. They had sat down to eat when mother asked the usual question of what happened at work that day. When father didn’t reply, mother repeated the question. Father cleared his throat, and replied, “Missionaries from America have come. Two of them came today and asked permission to give Bible studies and readings while we worked. The boss agreed, for what harm can a little book do? Anyway, they started reading, and it was very interesting.” Father kept on talking about what the missionaries had said, all the while Shapa listening intently. The part about Jesus dying to save everyone really caught her attention, but it didn’t make sense to her. Why would anyone want to save bad people? What was he saving them from? And why would he allow himself to die? Surely any god or gods’ son would have power to save people without dying. This Jesus clearly wasn’t very powerful. Then father concluded by saying, “They are having a meeting tomorrow morning.” Without thinking, Shapa burst, “Can we go?” Seeing the look on her parents faces she lowered her head and added “Please?” Her father stood up. “Shapa, you foolish girl. You are a disappointment to this family. We will not disgrace the family name anymore than you already have by attending those meetings. We are Hindu and have no use for such foolish talk. Go to your room and stay there. You will not be allowed to finish your supper.” With tears streaming down her face she headed to her room. But not before she heard her mother say, “I need to go to town tomorrow morning and get some food. Our supply has gone low. And foolish Shapa has torn two other saris to an irreparable state, that foolish, careless girl. I’ll need to get some cloth to make her new ones…” Suddenly Shapa began to formulate a plan in her mind. Maybe I can go to those meetings after all.