Monday, October 25, 2010

We Thank Thee, A Song, Sung By Jim Reeves

Alex Martin made his way early in the morning, through the newly laid bitumen road to the colony's bus stop which is a good five minute walk from his home. The Heavy Electrical residential colony which is twenty kilometers away from Hyderabad was built for the families of engineers and technicians working in the Heavy Electrical factory, one the many prestigious units planned all over India with Czechoslovakian technology. Alex's two elder brothers, both Electrical engineers are employed in that factory and Alex, the youngest along with his parents stay in the spacious and luxurious residential house allotted to them.

Alex Martin, the youngest of the three brothers is a post graduate in Biochemistry, a trainee Production chemist in a bulk drug manufacturing factory situated on the outskirts of Hyderabad, which is about forty minutes from his residence. As he is working in the general shift, which is at seven in the morning, he has to catch the first bus which starts at six o' clock from the colony. The early morning walk, Alex felt in the beginning was a painful process, but within few days he started liking the cool breeze, the greenery, and identifying the birds by their songs found abundantly in the unpolluted atmosphere around the colony.

The colony has only few occupants and one of them is the corner house, nearer to the bus stop with a green gate and a well maintained garden. Alex usually waits for the bus, standing underneath the dense neem tree which is right opposite the corner house.

He noticed that if he arrives just before five thirty five he could hear the beautiful songs sung by Jim Reeves played on a cassette recorder from the kitchen of the corner house. And what he cannot understand is that the last song, 'We thank Thee' is abruptly switched off exactly at five fifty.

Alex is in the bulk drug industry which is the fastest growing industry in India and its products are exported to nearly all the countries around the world and as the best survive, the industry is forever improving their profit margins by cutting costs, either in the purchase of the raw material or in the manufacturing process. And to Alex's consternation he and his other seven colleagues have been asked to take a crash course in computers, as their factory is on the threshold of computerizing the entire manufacturing process.

As the one year full time computer course is a very expensive one, the management insisted that its employees sign a bond to work for two years in the same pay scales. Experienced production chemists are much in demand and Alex's seven colleagues have already resigned and joined a rival company leaving him in a dilemma of whether he has also to resign or continue in the same firm.

The management had given Alex one month time to decide and the deadline is on Monday the 3rd July 1989. Walking on that day, from his house to the bus stop Alex was still undecided on whether to join the new company with a five fold salary increase or get trained and work for two more years with no assurance of salary hike.

The morning was chilly and Alex was glad that he wore his windcheater and thrusts his hands deep in its pockets and was deep in his thoughts when he heard above the singing of the birds, the beautiful rich voice of Jim Reeves from the corner house. As soon as he reached the neem tree the song was switched off abruptly, disappointing him. Standing under the neem tree Alex looked at his watch and seeing that it was five fifty, had the overwhelming desire to pray. Bowing his head he prayed. A silent prayer for the wonderful day and asking God's help in taking the right decision and the strength to face the unknown and divine help for the future.

After saying his prayers he opened his eyes and felt an overwhelming joy and peace and felt that God had answered his prayers. Going to his factory he signed the bond and joined the computer course.

It was on 15th August 1989, India's Independence Day and a holiday and as he was walking back to his home, came across that corner house where he used to hear the Jim Reeves songs. Stopping, he pressed the bell and was greeted by an elderly gentleman with a ready smile who immediately invited him as soon as Alex introduced himself and the purpose of his visit.

"My name is George. My wife Judy is a Jim Reeves fan," explained the elderly man, "And it is she who daily listens to it. I'll call her."

After a minute or so both of them appeared. She is in her fifties, plump, and with that ready smile which appealed to Alex.

"Alex is your Jim Reeves fan."

Alex laughed and said, "Jim Reeves is loved all over the world. One thing which I wanted to ask for a long time is why you play the same old Jim Reeves songs every day at five thirty five and switch it off at exactly five fifty and that too in the middle of one of the best songs?"

"I never noticed that," said the elderly man as he looked towards his wife for an answer.

"Your songs," continued Alex, "played so early in the morning is very inspiring. The mellowed rich voice, and the wonderful lyrics are really beautiful and particularly in the morning, with only the birds and the cool air for company. Wow, it was heavenly just listening to each and every word and I loved it every lyric of it."

She laughed and keeping her head bowed for some time, answered, "I play Jim Reeves and other singers daily through out the day. And as George has to report for work at seven he likes to have his breakfast by six fifteen every day. He loves a hearty breakfast of French Omelet, boiled eggs, sausages and oats."

Alex listened with a puzzled look and nodded silently. Seeing that Judy was quiet, he asked, "But what has Jim Reeves to do with George's breakfast?"

Judy continued, "George likes to have his eggs hard boiled, and Jim Reeves does that. As soon as I keep the eggs on the stove I switch on the Jim Reeves cassette and switch it off at the start of 'We thank Thee', and the eggs are boiled as per George's liking."

Victor Jasti from India has this passion to write short stories based on Bible and real incidents. He also writes Christian fiction & poetry. Five of his poems were published in Temporal Currents compiled by an American author Ms Christine Tricarico

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