THE GOOD PRIEST - Chapter 1
THE GOOD PRIEST - Chapter 16 mins 10.3K 6 mins 10.3K
It was Sunday morning. Father Carlos Munevar was getting ready to address the crowd in the church. Today the subject he chose for his sermon was the power of forgiveness. He went through the topic in his mind running over a few quotations and verses from the bible.
Father Carlos Munevar started the address with his usual ritual and few verses from the Bible. The hall was full like every Sunday but today he felt the gathering was huge, a bit more than the usual Sundays.
Halfway through the sermon, he could not help noticing a beautiful woman in the second row. She looked like she was in her late twenties. He kept looking at her while speaking, and the woman smiled slightly and nodded to his speech. She was immersed in his sermon. And that wasn’t new to him. His lectures had that effect on people. And it was very common especially for the first-timers.
What surprised him was that she too evoked a raw attraction in him. He kept staring at her in between. And every time he looked at her, she smiled at him. And that smile shook the ground beneath him. How is it possible that she exerted tremendous power? She was just a pretty face and her smile did not shower pearls.
But there was something about her face, innocent and childlike; she looked like an angel directly ascending from the heaven on a Sunday morning to attend his lecture.
And for the first time in his life the entire ecosystem on which his faith and foundation lie shook. The walls started to crumble slowly from within, and Jesus nailed on the cross watched helplessly as his favourite child trailed off his path.
That face from the Sunday Mass revolved in his dreams; he saw her in a garden, on the riverside, in the cathedral kneeling and praying before Holy Mary, he saw her laugh, the wind carried her laugh to different places and brought her laugh back to him. His thoughts were full of her, and when he prayed, he prayed for her too. He wished her happiness and health and the hope of seeing her again, the coming Sunday, loomed over him.
It was already Thursday, and a few routine things were on his mind other than the thoughts of the unknown beautiful stranger - a meeting next day with the head of the Church, the High Priest, Father Antonio Bruges, the community service meeting on Saturday, a session on Love and God in a high school. He made mental notes in the confession box in the time gap when one person left and another one entered.
He heard footsteps followed by the sound of the opening of the door and closing. ‘Good morning.’
‘Good morning.’ A sweet voice replied back.
‘First, we make the sign of the cross.....’ The woman in the confession box did exactly what he said and repeated what he asked to repeat.
‘Tell me why you are here, child.’ Father Carlos asked.
He could hear uneven breathing now. He tried to ease her tension. ‘Don’t be shy or don’t be scared. It is okay. Just go on with your confession. I am here to guide you, to help you.’ He spoke his regular words of encouragement.
‘It is difficult. It is complex. I have never felt this way.’ He could hear her fidgeting and heavy breathing. ‘And I do not know how to start and where to start.’
‘Try somewhere. I promise. I will listen.’ He said with a smile.
A musical laugh from the other end of the box. Father Carlos wondered who she was and what was she going to confess? He could not help painting a face to that voice and the smile. His curiosity was at the highest peak now refusing to climb down the hill.
Her voice trembled as she spoke, ‘I have this attraction to an elderly man. I know I should not. I am wrong. But it is uncontrollable.’
‘We deviate from the true purpose of life and get swayed away by carnal pleasures. I understand. I will try my best to help you.’
‘No. you do not understand.’ She said firmly, and her voice cracked at the last word.
‘Help me understand, and I will help you find the way.’ He spoke in an assuring way.
‘You are the only one who can help.’ She smiled. Again musical but taunting.
‘I am here to be of service, my child.’ He repeated his regular platitudes.
She spoke again, hesitant but speaking in a cracked voice, ‘Do you recognize me?’ Her words were loaded with hope.
‘No.’ was she disappointed?
‘Last Sunday mass, I was sitting in the second row. I thought you looked at me a couple of times in your sermons.’
It was her? He was suddenly hit with an impending storm. For a minute he went numb. He did not know how to react.
He simply said, ‘I know. I recognize you.’ And as he finished the sentence, he felt his voice cracking like her. He inhaled and exhaled deep breaths, calmed his shaking nerves, but his foot was unsteady, after a long time, he was feeling nervous.
She did not say anything and there was a brief silence, a hiatus before a storm. His foot started tapping more vigorously.
‘Tell me. What it is? What are you seeking?’
A brief silence. She continued. ‘I am attracted to a priest. I am attracted to YOU. And I do not know what to do about it?’ Her lips quivered as she spoke. Again irregular breathing. He too started breathing irregularly. Was it contagious, the uneven breathing? For God’s sake he was a priest.
Father Carlos Munevar was dumbfounded. There were cases before where women were attracted to him due to his oratory skills. He had dealt with it before. He can deal with it now. But he wasn’t sure of it anymore. Finally, he spoke composing himself. His right leg nevertheless kept shaking.
‘See. It happens. It is just because of the good things you see in me, the…the…” He was falling short of words. She cut him out before he could complete his meaningless counselling.
‘No. You do not understand. I am immune to men.’
‘Immune? What does that mean?’
‘I was never attracted towards any man till now. Till I saw you. And I think it is divine. It is a God’s message. I was born only to love you. I mean, I have been single all my life because I never felt that kind of feelings for anyone till now, until I met you.’
Was she crying? He could hear her sniffles through the mesh of the confession box.
‘Don’t cry. I am sure it is a fleeting feeling. Just be strong in your faith, and it will be all okay.’ Hopefully, these feelings will pass.
‘I will go then. Thank you for listening. I feel lighter talking to you.’
‘You knew already that I will be in the confession box on Thursdays. Didn’t you?’
‘Yes, I found out. I could not confess my feelings to anyone but you.’ She left uttering those last words.
The mind is a strange thing. It would exactly do the opposite of what we do not want to. The leg stopped shaking now. But her words, her smile, her predicament, her confession refused to stop messing with his head.
‘Good morning Father.’ A new person eager to confess his sins had walked in.