At one instance, I had taken Papa’s very good and sharp scissors to school for a project. And as it could be expected, someone had stolen it either from my bag or while it had been left abandoned on the table. While I was getting back home that day, I remember feeling ‘dead like a lizard’, not knowing what to reply to Papa. I tried begging Mercy to take the blame upon her as she was Papa’s pet and could escape without getting scolded. She was a perfect daughter, who did everything in the best way possible without causing any trouble to others. Yet she refused my plea!! Who would risk doing that when there wasn’t a guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again!
And so these were my childhood days. Yet, none of these incidents prevented me from my Operation ‘Exploration’. My desires were always set upon doing things that were ‘ forbidden’ .
My childhood revolved around School. My school was my world..!! While any school going child would prefer to stay at home and so find excuses to take leave from it, I was just the opposite. ‘Meghalaya’,my hometown, when translated means ‘the house of clouds’ . It would have rainy weather for more than half a year. Hailstorms were also quite common. Besides this, there were frequent curfews and bandhs due to political reasons. Since my school was situated in the air force region, 60 % of the students could make it to school even in the most adverse conditions.
I remember many such incidents, when Mummy, seeing the weather outside, would not wake us up in the morning and allow us to sleep presuming we would stay at home. But somehow, I would wake up by 6:30 am ( which would mean only 30 minutes to go and catch the office jeep to go to the school) and seeing my sisters happily lying on the bed I would weep loudly. I literally would bring the roof to the ground. Why? Just because I did not want to stay at home and wished to go to school as always. With a 75-25 ratio I would win the battle. Somehow with my skirt half tucked in and Rs 5 in my fist for lunch, I would manage to catch the office jeep. This was the normal scenario at home, as ‘Jesse’ was a very serious student. I wanted to attend all the classes without missing even one, while Mercy and Ruth would prefer to stay back at home, happily sleeping under the warm cozy blankets.
Friendship to me was a very special thing. I never chose friends based on their intelligence or smartness or even beauty. Even from my childhood days I sought friends who would be ‘good listeners’. Yes..just good listeners would do. Someone who could add a ‘hmmm’ to everything I said.
Isn’t it beautiful how God creates us. No two people are alike. We are all created beautifully by Him. We all possess different temperament – different even within a family. We should never feel awkward or low about these differences. He is the perfect ‘Potter’ who knows about our future even before the best calendar could mark it down.
Then as the earth revolved around the Sun making revolutions year after year…this Jesse from being child now entered into her teenage years. Until then, I was pretty innocent yet now adolescence was taking a stall over me. I wanted to be famous even more. Co-curricular activity was the sword on my right hand and academic studies the shield on the left. Adding to all of these since I was slowly entering into my adulthood, I now had the desire to be appreciated for my looks. Though I was aware that I wasn’t as fair as other girls ( People in North East are all fair, having really straight long hair and a slim figure) and that would unknowingly bring down my confidence. Still I strove to do my best in everything. School was everything to me. Even at home I would spend hours together thinking about ‘what had happened that day and what would happen the next day’.
Skipping through all the other years, let me take you to the period of my life that had seen a complete make over. This was the end of my 8th standard. As there were rumors in the school that students would be taken to a Darjeeling mountaineering trip. Bingo !! This was what my soul desired. A trip !! Too good to behold and this young mind thought of the mountaineering experience – the colorful dresses I would be allowed to wear, the fun that I would have with my friends and what not. So there I was excited to break this news at home. The school had charged around Rs 400 I believe. It was a little more for my family to provide yet I hoped I could convince my parents. So I waited for my mother to return from her school. She was a primary teacher in a private school.
Here I should make a note that the lives of my parents too revolved around our education. They never bought any new cloths for themselves yet provided all that they could for us, their four gems. My father could have bought a bike or a new gadget to boast about with his friends, yet family was his priority. God bless my parents. I can very well recall this conversation that my Papa had with his office manager while he withdrew some money from his PF ( provident fund) for Victoria’s degree admission. While he applied for the withdrawal form, he was advice by the manager that he shouldn’t be using his savings like this and should rather keep it for his post retirement period.’ ‘Lala careful’, was what they had advised him . Yet my father used almost all his savings on us and never thought about his future.
………………. So Mummy had returned from her school and before I could even announce the Big carnival news, Mercy in turn had shared the same news with both Mummy and Papa and they were willing to send her to this trip. What had happened!! My dreams were crushed into pieces. All my plans got washed away by the flood waters. Yet, I wasn’t a loving sister nor had ever understood the meaning of sacrifice and I went and told Mummy that I too was planning to go. Without any second thought, Mummy said ‘no’ as they couldn’t afford for the both of us. Mercy as was her nature, immediately told my parents that she wouldn’t and that Jesse could go alone. Yet, Mummy did not agree to this. If not for Mercy, then not even for Jesse. Today, I understand why Mummy had said so, yet then I did not. I was furious. I wept yet they wouldn’t listen. I went for a two and a half days dharna ( starvation process), yet they wouldn’t. The school had given a week whole break for the end term examination. My parents fearing that I wouldn’t study and that I was actually serious about my decision told me that they finally had relented and said..okey we shall see..!! So I had my food and began preparing for the exams.
Days passed by and I entered into my 9th standard. It was time to pay the trip fare and my parents said ‘no’. I felt like I was cheated/deceived. I somehow accepted the truth, though I was bitter within. It had taken me some days to come back to normal.
It aches my soul to realize how unloving a human can be. Human beings created in the very image of a loving God sometimes or maybe many a times forget their origin. It’s sad yet thank God that He calls us all to ‘repentance’, ‘He calls sinners to repentance’. This word ‘repentance’ sounds very bitter and ugly to those who haven’t tasted the Lord, yet this is what has saved me. It was His saving grace that picked up a hard and coarse stone like me and transformed me into a garden wherein those who come in – into my life today call me ‘blessed’. I believe that, this is how Mary must have felt when she met Elizabeth. She realized that she was an unworthy girl chosen by the most Holy God to become the mother of His Son. May we all have this same attitude within us.
The greatest of all works, God my Father, has been doing in my life, is making this ‘I’ slowly disappear and having a horizontal dash, thereby firmly placing a cross ‘†’ in its place. Nothing has ever given me the joy – the true joy that this ‘life in Christ’ has been giving me.
So , this was how I began my 9th standard and it was a smooth start. Then one day all of a sudden, our teacher announced about a 3-4 day Scouts and Guides camp in Guwahati. Guwahati was a nearby city located in the state of Assam. It wasn’t as far as Darjeeling yet it was definitely miles away from Shillong. ‘COOL’, if not Darjeeling than it should be Guwahati. “Mummy, you did not allow me to go for the Darjeeling trip, this camp I will by no means forgo. I am going…… bye!!”. That was my confidence!! And my parents allowed me to go. It was a wonderful camp and I learnt a lot and as I had earlier mentioned this ‘jack of all trades’ displayed a real good deal of talents. I received almost the maximum number of awards for the dance competition, speaking, elocution and yes, drawing too. This was what I was known in the camp ‘ Jesse jaisi koi nehi’ ( it meant ‘no one is like Jesse’ – this was a famous serial programme being aired in the television those days). A mere reading of this paragraph would make people think that – ‘ wow, her student life was very wonderful’. Yet it is Only the girl ‘Jesse’ who knows how she was within. As said celebration stays for a while, I was eaten up from within. A well decorated white washed tomb. Too beautiful to behold from outside yet inside ..decaying and stinking. I couldn’t withstand anyone getting even a mark more than me, I couldn’t tolerate anyone being appreciated even if it was my own close friend, I had no genuine love for anyone, all my dreams were shortsighted – just momentary happiness. That was how I was…yes ‘I was’ – Praise God… ‘Great change has come over me since I was born’ – since I was born again!!
This camp lead me further and I returned back home having been the first guide of the school who ever participated for the ‘National conference for scouts and guides’ held at Dehradun. Dehradun is a city in Uttaranchal, miles and miles away from Darjeeling and definitely from Shillong itself. What had happened in this Guwahati camp ? I was selected as the only student from my school (though we were four) one among the 25-30 students representing the whole North-East region (7 states), for the National Camp which was to be held a month later in Dehradun. Thus making me first among my siblings to travel by train and that too, to a far away state in India. This was a great success for me and my fame -yes I would like to quote this word ‘fame’ began to spread in the School and in the other K.V Schools.
It’s really amazing, even as I recall this incident, God was proving to me, even then, that His plans for my life were not just greater – ‘ it was not what I had planned or ever desired for’. Then ‘I wanted Darjeeling – He gave me Dehradun’, ‘then I wanted successful life – Today He has given me Eternal Life’, ‘Then I wanted everyone to know who I was – Today He is using me ( such an unworthy person as you can see ) to make His Glorious name known’. Sometimes you wonder in God’s choices..!! By human standards I would be the last person of my family to be chosen by God. Today – ’Look what the Lord has done !!’ Hallelujah..!!
And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, So that no mortal man should boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:28,29