A Friend Beyond Words

She is one of the singers. She taught me my first Bangla song.

From across the room she sees that I have no rice. “Ektu?” she says. I hand her my lunch box and she divides her own rice between us.

Later as she washes dishes I stand by. She gestures, speaks. I do not understand. Finally giving up on words she grabs my right hand…the hand that still bears the remains of her shared rice…and washes it under the faucet. “Ami bachar! (I am a baby!)” I joke. We both smile.

As I walk towards the metro station at day’s end, there she is in front of me. She is asking me where I am going. She is walking there too. So we go together. She leads me in an unfamiliar way in the dark, practically holding my hand, fending for me like a mother hen crossing the street, ready to take on the whole realm of taxis in my defense.

We enter the metro station, walk down steps to the platform. She will travel the opposite direction. But for now we stand together. She grasps my hand in hers and starts to sing.

I don’t remember all the words, so she feeds me a phrase at a time. She is so patient. She wants us to sing together. Her face is animated and her hands are warm. She looks into my eyes and praises Jesus openly without shame. And the world watches.

My train arrives and the singing must stop. But I continue to hum. My heart is full.

Many people move to this city to minister to others. They come to the red-light district to serve the broken and despised. But then roles get reversed. The minister is ministered to. Those with less give more. The “wise” are made foolish. The weak show themselves strong. The lover finds undeserved affection. Songs of joy are sung in unexpected places. The Kingdom comes.



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