The Walking Stick

‘Creak,’ ‘Creak,’ the walking stick made its way through the sands of time, generations witnessing its gradual imprint, in different hands.

A beautiful stick made of the local wood, in the famous hill station of Matheran, with its salubrious climes, it resembled a Dalmatian, with black spots on a cream background. The handle was smooth, the texture finely carved; however, it fully justified the purpose of its built, that is, to support in the hands of its owner, the weight of the body, and of mind full of care.

The stick found its way into the hands of an elderly gentleman aged 80 years, who on his evening sojourns, impeccably dressed, took along his trusted companion. The walking stick and the gentleman-partners-in-arms found their way into the libraries of Bombay, as it was then called, the restaurants of the yesteryears, the parks, and the places of worship. The dependence and the loyalty were total-only till death did them apart-from dust to dust.

The family shifted base to another city; the walking stick traveled along. It had become an indelible memory, of the gentleman it had served so loyally.

The walking stick had served its purpose, perhaps that is what one would have thought. It was relegated to the corners of the loft in the mansion, left to remain in oblivion. Oblivion, however, it was not to be. Memories never fade; those who serve never lose their utility, and they find a way to help those who have held them in respect, and taken them along, in the journey called life.

When the gentleman’s grandson was to get married, along with the items in the loft, the walking stick too jumped out, after 30 years of hibernation.

Since then, the stick was always kept leaning against some corner of the wall, considered a regular nuisance, by the house-keep, who would think of it as an obstruction to her daily cleaning chores. It would seem like the walking stick could reach different areas of the mansion, unaccompanied. Years passed by, the lady of the house-the old gentleman’s daughter too started witnessing the ravages of time, on her now comparatively fragile knees.

The walking stick found its way into her hands, supporting her in reaching places in the house, like a loyal Dalmatian-spots and all.

When she walked, the young man, her son, noticed from behind, another feature as she limped, slowly, but steadily, the stick never giving away. In his mind, the man saw the old woman being supported on the shoulders of the old gentleman-her long-departed father, the shadows fading farther away into the distance.

When loved ones leave, they never really go, do they? They leave behind some part of them; their spirit continues to support, and nurture their loved ones. The old gentleman was my grandfather, the now aging lady, my mother, and the not so young man myself.

The Bewildered Exorcist

A priest/exorcist named Albert Gonzalez had been giving Mass at the small St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Stilo, West Virginia when he suddenly collapsed. Horrified parishioners got up from kneeling and ran towards him. As they congregated around his body and crossed themselves, a doctor was present among his fellow church members.

“Call 911!” he said loudly. A woman pulled out her iPhone and called immediately. The doctor noticed their priest wasn’t breathing and he performed CPR until the medics rushed in and took him five minutes later. Father Gonzalez remained unconscious as the ambulance roared to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital to the church. The priest’s gurney rolled into a corner of the ER where two nurses and a doctor worked on him until he finally came to. Gonzalez was given a room where he woke up, but his mind was foggy. He saw a nurse with her back to him, and called her. As she turned around, he saw she was wearing a white sheet with two slit for eyes.

“Yes? How are you feeling?” she said. The priest yelled when he saw her. “Where’s my cross and holy water?” he asked. But he fell back into sleep.

He woke up again. Thinking he had seen something from the spirit world, he yelled louder when he saw the doctor who looked like a werewolf and the nurse appeared as a witch with green skin.

“Now don’t be scared,” the doctor said calmly. “My holy water… my cross..? In the name of the Father, the Son… !”. Nurse Hilda, give him a sedative!” Hilda immediately prepped the shot and injected him in the arm. Father Gonzalez woke up a third time. He looked around, not believing what he had witnessed. Then, the door to his room opened, but the priest couldn’t see who it was because sunlight blinded him from seeing who it appeared to be a nun.

“Father? It’s time for me to collect you. The others will be here soon.” She said in a sweet voice. All the priest could make out was a blue cloak that draped over her head. Her hands were held up with their palms open. Immediately, Gonzalez crossed himself and said, “Santa Maria!” The woman also spoke Spanish replied, “Yes, it is me, Maria.” But when she came into view he was horrified to see that her face looked like a skull. Gonzalez yelled again. With all the energy he could muster, he yelled, “In the name of the Father and the Son… ” Then he suddenly fainted.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in and examined him. “Prep him for heart surgery! We’ve got to get inside and repair that blocked artery.” They wheeled him into a surgery room where a doctor and four nurses were scrubbing up. Once again, Father Gonzalez woke up slowly and looked around. The team of nurses and the doctor had red devil’s faces. He peered at the doctor who looked like Frankenstein. “Father, don’t faint! We are about ready to operate on your heart because it has some blockage. We need for you to sign this form, we can’t operate on you without your signature.”

The frightened father looked at the team with a wild grimace and slowly took the paper and signed it. The anesthesiologist took the cup that went over his mouth and nose. The doctor said, “He looks like he signed a contract with the devil.” Gonzalez heard “contract” and “devil” and his heart began to spike out of control. But the anesthesia had already taken effect, and fell into a deep sleep. After several hours, he slowly woke up in the ICU. A nurse walked over to his bed to check on him. He was in a deep sleep. As a few hours drifted by, he woke up. The nurse on duty walked over to him and asked him how he was doing. The priest looked at her and saw she had a human face. He told the nurse that she was a “sight for frightened eyes.” “What do you mean?” “This hospital is full of demons and monsters! In all my years of being an exorcist, I’ve never encountered so many at once! ” The nurse began to chuckle. “Well, I’m sorry but yesterday was Halloween and we dressed up for it!”