You are the architect of your life — Swami Vivekananda
[Continued from yesterday]
Joseph was not sure of success with the Bishop but mustered courage and knocked the door. “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Is it not written so in the Bible? The door opened and Joseph was welcomed with a warm smile by the Holy Father even as Joseph, an intelligent man of perseverance, kissed Bishop’s ring. He was offered a chair and he introduced himself as a Professor of the nearby college and then proceeded to explain his predicament. The Bishop listened to him patiently, asked a few questions about Fulbright Scholarship programme. Without much ado, he called his treasurer, a priest, and asked him to take Joseph to the Bank and transfer the money. A turning point? Luck? Joseph writes, “I felt that I had just visited God the Father himself.”
As I was turning the pages of the book, I realised that more than the ‘turning points’ and ‘luck’, it was his brilliant, top performance in school and colleges that enabled him to reach those ‘turning points’ and be blessed with ‘luck’. Indeed it is said, ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity.’ Joseph was academically well-prepared. Opportunity presented itself. Naturally, luck followed him like shadow! Joseph, from what I found in the book, was brainy and also hard-working to match the level of other more brainy students like, as he mentions, one Kannan.
From chapter five of the book, it was about his life in US, University of Minnesota. He worked part-time as a scholar at Columbia Hospital. So his bank account went up and he had enough money to pay all his debts, specially the loan that he had taken, nay gotten, from Bishop Patroni. What a gesture! He paid his Uncle Kurian too. He began sending money home to build a good house, educate his brothers. I have heard, that in many cases, such as this, the beneficiary of another’s generosity and help, often ignores or forgets the help given by the benefactor — a case of ‘out of sight is out of mind’. But in case of Joseph, it did not happen that way. A noble man, indeed. Responsible man, certainly.
After graduating, he went to Michigan State University (MSU) for a Ph.D Degree. He works as a teacher for income and completes his Ph.D. Interestingly, he gets a job in Venezuela, Latin America, when he had gone to meet his friend who was studying with him in US. This, before completing the Ph.D. Luck? Of course, he completes his Ph.D. And, life in Venezuela begins…
It makes more interesting reading hereafter. To survive in the job he learns a new language, Spanish. He earns more than he expected. After one year in Venezuela, he visits his parents in India. Now aged 33, he gets married to Melody in just one week’s time! After a week, both flew to Venezuela.
The life with Melody and his job were all very interestingly narrated. He got his first child who died at birth. Over the years, three more children, one boy and two girls, were born. It was kind of a roller-coaster life that one reads here. No wonder, he had a sort of nervous breakdown three times in those years. They visit India after a few years with children.
The book tells about the business of petroleum production and marketing in some detail. Venezuela’s major, 80%, export income is from petroleum. He was enjoying a good job, good pay and good life. No wonder, his brothers used to call him the “Venezuelan Sheik” and many of them travelled to visit him.
Joseph writes about his meeting, of all persons in the world, Mother Teresa at the Indian Embassy in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, where she was waiting, with Mother Teresa Sisters sitting on a bench, to be attended!! Mother, had a centre (houses) in Venezuela. Service to mankind across the world.
Joseph gambled in Agriculture too and lost. But a lesson learnt. Enjoyed the experiment! Over the years, his three younger brothers were living in New York. Apparently, he must have helped them.
Joseph writes about his visit to India to attend the wedding of a niece. After the wedding, they made a pilgrimage to Velankanni, the shrine of the Blessed Virgin which got a direct hit by the tsunami. He writes: “When the tsunami struck, ten of my cousins were visiting the shrine. Eight of them were inside the Church attending mass, and the other two were outside the Church shopping souvenirs. All the people inside the Church were saved, as not a drop of water entered it. The two cousins outside the Church ran and escaped.”
The reason, he says, “The waves that came through the front of the Church were weak and stopped at its steps.”
All his children are married and has nine grandchildren. While Joseph and his wife returned to their roots in Kottayam, Kerala, his children have become part of the diaspora and will bloom wherever they are planted. Son of Kerala, Uduppan is happily back home.
The book is a good read for South Indians, specially.
Is there an invisible hand of destiny in everybody’s life? This is the question staring me in the face, as I closed the book.
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