The Cost Of Helping Others


CHAPTER TEN

The Cost of Helping Others

                    The board of examination has announced the dates of the Matriculation Final Exams. The preparation for it goes on systematically under the able guidance of their beloved teacher, Leelavathi. This preparation is a very relaxing activity, as they are already well-prepared. They have a system of daily hard work of all the lessons well-planned way, prompting suited discipline without pressure. A lot of unity and peace, they experience among them. Examination fever is absent, but the seriousness and hard work necessary for excellence are part and parcel of their study habit. 

 After the first day’s exam, there’s a lot of joy and satisfaction in each of them enjoying the exams. Their good health and positive attitude have kept them very confident and cheerful. Two months later, the Matriculation Examination Board publishes the results; it has brought credit to St. Xavier’s High School, Geethgunj. The results prove the students’ prudence and hard work to bring about invaluable returns. The school stood first in the State for its super academic performance and lifted the Award for ’The Best School’ in the Bihar State. To celebrate this occasion, the school organized a picnic to a spot across the river Ganges. The picnickers are very excited and in the mood for celebrations and jubilations. All the teachers, the last batch of students, and the non-teaching staff together go across the river at the Mullapaara boat launching station. They are very much delighted, grateful, and feel freedom. None of their strict parents or siblings is with them to control their guided freedom and creativity, but only their broad-minded, respecting, understanding, and loving teachers. Enjoying the pleasant boat journey, the group has arrived at Dhriksakshi island. After enjoying the day with various games, snacks, mutton biryani for lunch, and Housie lottery games and prizes, they return. Some teachers have bought magnificent gifts at their expense for the lottery. 

 The widespread Ganges river in that area appears like an ocean. They make their water trip back very enjoyable, singing aloud, clapping hands in unison, and continuing their dancing mood. It’s an unforgettable day in their school life. The bright scarlet sun paints very natural images on the canvas of the boundless blue sky. They all thrill at the beautiful, captivating and colourful images changing in the vast, generous sky. They’re all excited and in awe to watch the creative magic the fiery ball in the western sky performs. Look, it’s turning into a God-golden disc in the heavens. They all feel and relish the heavenly visit to their joyful hearts, expressed through their raised hands in the praise and glory of the divine. They cross the middle of the broad river now and head towards the destination spot. Little away from the landing spot, down the river, there’s a sharp bend at a rocky place. They attempt to cross much above this area. Still, there’s a powerful undercurrent in that area, though the top-water is very calm. Somehow, the well-experienced boatmen lose control in the deepwater area. The boat turns over before reaching the bank, though only about 100 meters away. Screams of all rent the air. In horror, all swim to the bank of the river. 15 of the 60 persons don’t know how to swim. Paaru and Lucy struggle hard to save the fifteen. The others have already gone ahead.

Drowning people alternately sink below and reappear above the water surface. In this process, they breathe in the air when they come above water and breathe in the water and drink it when they go below the water surface. Once their lungs and stomachs get filled with water, they cannot remain up. Then, they get drowned. With the knowledge gained from school life, Lucy and Paaru, with the significant presence of mind, shift those in danger of death to the shallow water area. Those who have reached the river bank, being aware of the non-swimmers, return hurriedly to rescue them. The boatmen escape from the scene for fear of death-attack by the villagers. Lucy is at the back, where the deep water is. As an expert swimmer and diver, she takes the initiative and risks her life to rescue those getting drowned. 

Then she notices her Mini teacher going down deeper into the water, and Lucy dives deep and brings her up, and Paaru rushes to help the already exhausted Mini teacher and her friend. She takes the teacher from her hands to take her to the bank. Handing the teacher over to others, she dashes back to Lucy as Paaru perceived Lucy’s over-exhaustion. Lucy checks for anyone else who remains unnoticed over there and experiences a sudden undercurrent pulling her. She tries hard to escape from it in vain. She realizes she loses her balance, yet she feels the satisfaction of saving the lives of her Mini teacher and the others. Paaru perceives Lucy’s death struggle against the undercurrent and rushes to rescue her. But what she sees is a dangerous gaping big hole of a whirlpool; it sucks her bosom friend Lucy into the vortex and disappears into the deep Ganges river. 

 The people put many expert divers into action in search of Lucy to save her life. Anxiety and sorrow multiplied, and it turned into an unbearable crying rends the air. After a long and frantic search in vain, a day after, 60 kilometres down the river, they have got her honoured dead body. Her Mini teacher, whom she saved from death to life, is in a coma in the hospital at the thought of losing her saviour, Lucy. 

 During the funeral service, before a vast grieving crowd, the Leelavathi teacher confesses the personal sharing of Lucy. Her question to the student was a pointed one about the purpose of her life. 

"In one chat with Lucy, I asked her what exactly she wanted to do in her life. Her thought-provoking words were these," I got the idea of serving other people and to live for others, from my daily Bible reading. I believe that the Lord Jesus came to this world to give dignity to those who lost it, accept the rejected, forgiveness to the sinners, a new future, hope to the persecuted, the oppressed, and the deprived. He, at his birth, started an era of dignity for all human beings. Saving the people, he sacrificed his life for all human beings. If I can contribute something to the good of people, to sacrifice my comfort for others’ comfort, my life is meaningful, and it makes me happy." 

"She had practiced this significant value in her entire school life. We all know it for sure. She used to motivate and challenge her companions in the school, saying, ’Love is in action and not in words, and that’s what she has done until the last moment of her life. Lucy worked her talk. She had courage of conviction, committed to a cause, to Jesus and his values for everyone’s growth and dignity of life, but she respected all religions." The teacher reminds all present there how the exemplary student Lucy practised what she preached, challenging everyone. 

 "She saved the lives of her Mini teacher and others, risking her life. She has been a mysterious healer of our minds, emotions, intellect, and a true motivator for developing a healthy personality. That blazing fire within her to live for others now put out through her sacrificial physical death. But her burning and enthusing fire will live on through each one of us and will remain alive in the history of our school, St. Xavier’s High School, Geetgunj. She has given to the world a rich example of how to lead a commendable, sacrificial, and heroic life for the good of others. Finally, she has left a legacy for us all and crossed over to her dearest God and Saviour, Lord, Jesus Christ. May He keep her in His bright light forever," (With a raised voice), Goodbye Lucy. (bursts out crying inconsolably).   

                                        The end