By: Allen Shiu
Word Checked: 4697 Words in Oxford 3000: 90%
About The Author
Allen Three fourths pessimist/cynical One eighth gourmet One eighth optimist One eighth poet One eighth literature and cat lover
About The Storyâ€Ś Itâ€™s about a black boy orphaned placed on the doorway of a church where benign sisters kindly adopted him. Together they taught him many things, such as how to sing hymns, and how to appreciate the beauty of life. He thought all men were good and equal until he entered a school that completely changed his world. In the school he learned violence, discrimination, and sympathy. But in the end he conquered all difficulties and proved himself to everybody.
Table of Contents The Picture
Chapter 1 The PICTURE Early in the morning Leron woke up and gazed at the wall clock. It was not even eight oâ€™clock yet, but he felt like heâ€™d been oversleeping. Being aware of the possible lateness because of his habitual morning praying, he got up and walked around this cozy, luxuriously furnished interior of the building on the hill overlooking this half-conscious city. The house was located in an exquisite suburb where celebrities took it into prior consideration in that the scenery, the accommodation, the 6
subsidiaries were the best. The fresh air inhaled in provided senses of revival and vigor. Leron sat down quietly on the armchair in order not to disturb anyone; he just wanted a moment alone. â€œItâ€™s been twenty years,â€? murmured he. On the desk there was a yellowed picture representing a black teen holding a plain trophy standing beside a nun in a pure white robe. By staring at the photograph all their memories came pouring in his brain and things were suddenly as alive as they had been twenty years ago.
Chapter 2 THE WINTER Drops of rain were flowing down from the roof brim and the usual bustling noise came from across the street where the market was still full of wild people shopping for on-sale turkeys and gifts for both Thanksgiving Day and the upcoming Christmas. The church was extremely serene in the rain compared with the joyous crowds. A woman in heavy clothing holding something quickly walked past the intersection heading for the sacred but humble building in the drizzling rain. Upon arriving 8
at her destination, she turned around to check nobody was nearby and rapidly put down the thing in her hands. Then she left. It was so peaceful a scene, with threads of rain and streams of water sprinkling down, except that the slightly faded napkin was far too uncommon to fit in. The darkness passed and here arose the sun. “Goodness gracious me! There is an infant on the doorway!” cried out Edna, a Sister from the chapel. The sudden existence of a boy woke everybody up and they seemed so in a mess. “Water, WARM water!” in high vocal shouted 9
Aura, an experienced babysitter and one of the Sisters. “Gosh….he is still alive.” Dating back to yesterday the temperature was around zero and, although we didn’t have much rain, it was still a miracle for a 6-month old baby to stay outdoors. “Maybe he’s destined to live,” whispered Sarah. They beheld the black infant until other children appeared about for breakfast when Aura was assigned to look after him. The new member somehow pushed the place to an energetic state and all of them were glad to receive it. The winter seemed 10
less suffering and dissonant with the arrival of candid, blessed baby. Later on the boy grew big, possessed strong limbs and a pair of naughty blue eyes. Chapter 3 NOTES “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” “You should sing Do here instead of So, Peter!” It was Edna’s instruction on the singing skills. She was a born hymn singer
suited acappella best. She was 11
training the children. There was going to be a small contest held by the church to select a child on behalf of the regional church to attend a big, national singing competition. This year there were some potential kids. During their regular
Singing is not just to produce the right notes. You have to blend your emotions with your singing in order to make it affectionate,” spoke
with some coughs before carrying on saying “You must arouse a certain
from you to your audience so as to enchant them.” Kids nodded, 12
knowingly or unknowingly. “To make this, I want every one of you to read out loud the lyrics first, think about them, then have some pictures in mind....” The cloudy skies were turning blue while
voices from The Firmament. Chapter 4 THE FIRMAMENT “Come catch me!” cried out Kaori, a nine-year-old girl. The kids were playing hide-and-seek in the front yard while gloomy people passed by. “Stop running! I can catch you,” yelled a Mexican boy. The noises from children 13
filled the church, Firmament, with great delight in which the desperate could still believe. There came Edna’s voice saying “Today we are reading a short verse of Rabindranath Tagore, Indian’s greatest poet, playwright, and philosopher. Anyone know where India is?” Nobody did, they were too young to know of how the world rotates and is formed. “OK, for extra information, it’s near the equator in Asia, consisted of various geographical features, has a long history, profound culture, and complex religions. Now, children, repeat this short poem after me. ” “God 14
expects answers for the flowers he sends us,” followed the curious kids, “God expects answers for the flowers he sends us” , engrossed Edna continued “not for the sun and the earth. ”“not for the sun and the earth.” “Can anyone share his or her feedback on this cute work?” John, an eight-year-old, quickly raised his hand and spoke “God likes flowers, not dirt!” Laughter bursting out. “No, but a good try,” smiled Edna, thinking “How innocent.” Then she continued “What do the sun and the earth represent? ” Eve tried replying, “I think they stand for two of the 15
three essential elements.” “Good, but can you provide more ideas? What’s the flower?”, while grinning, Edna turned around to write down the girl’s words on the blackboard. She likes ideas, “Uh... does it mean beauty?” “Good! That’s enough. The flower not only represents beauty but life! Think about it. The sun, the earth, and life are all given from the Father. Why does He want us to respond to the flower only?” The class went silent. Every one was squeezing thoughts. Leron raised his hand, feeling uncertain about his answer. “Yes.” “Because the sun and the earth are dead... 16
I mean, unlike life, they can not sing or dance or paint or feel things. But life can. Beauty, like poems, comes from humanity... ” his voice became lower and lower and he did not finish his sentence. But the commendation in her eyes spoke before saying “Brilliant!” Kids are really good, thinks she. “Rabindranath Tagore was actually a noble in his country. Did you just picture him as a fantasy dreamer and somebody ignorant of the world? But grand people always suffer from misfortune: his mother, wife, daughters and son all died young. He then devoted sorrow into 17
composing poems. He had traveled among countries to deliver speeches, from the U.K. to China. At his time the Indian were facing the impact of foreign thinking. Despite aging, he still had faith and enthusiasm in life, literary creation.....â€? Ednaâ€™s soft, firm voice led the children into imagination of a far-away land full of exotic sensations. A gentle breeze like a mischievous child stayed awhile on branches watching over the church then sojourned somewhere in the summer together with sparrows while Edna was lecturing. Adolescence is so precious but as 18
ephemeral as beads of dew. â€œ...So appreciate the world and gifts God has given and savor the meaning of life!â€? Children fled from the classroom into sunlight like leaves flying in the air. The church took care of kids of various nationalities and nursed them with the best effort they had. However poor they were, they did not groan a complaint and heartily thanked God for his infinite love. The little shelter set foot at the centre between towering skyscrapers and the inner city. It was small but highly visible due to its semblance consisted of many colorful stones 19
contrasting to the unified pavilions. In the worn down church they lived happily, and they called it home while in nights the straight buildings where dwelt souls lost in direction were as silent as dead men. Here they lived in harmony and equally, not knowing the outer world was as protean as it orbited. Bathing under the sunshine, they grew bigger.
Chapter 5 A Contest It was not a real singing contest, to be precise. Only five children
took part in it and the assigned song was “Amazing Grace.” Each rehearsed again and again, but as Edna predicted, Leron won. His voice was mild and healing. Together all the sisters and orphans took a black and white picture right in front of the church, with Leron in the middle holding a wooden trophy inscribed “Most Precious.” It was their only visible memory. Chapter 6 The Edge At this time Leron was old enough to register in a junior school. It was located twenty 21
minutes from the church he had become familiarized with and it was his first time to leave the wonderful home. Celestine accompanied him to the school, but she left after meeting the homeroom teacher at the side door. Leron lagged slowly behind the female teacher with excitement for the new world, casting curious looks at this special campus. Thinking just what Edna had once said, appreciate the world. Unlike his church, it was quite huge but quiet and every building consisted of white marble stones, looking unified and indistinct 22
from each other. Passing halls and corridors and turning countless corners, they were approaching somewhere noisy. Before entering the classroom, Leron was asked to stay outdoors until his name was called. “Today we have a transfer student from a church,” said the teacher, without any emotion. “Wooo!” cheered the class. “Leron, come in.” The boy took clumsy steps, nearly stumbling. The boiling mood went silent at once. Some people started whistling evilly. The class were all white, and Leron was black. “Hey where’s the “colored” sign been put? We 23
need a space for this dirt!” “No need to worry! He can sit beside the garbage bin and make friends with paper scraps!” “Or talk to the kitchen waste!” “Dirt and junk and waste make fantastic family!” Together they laughed out loud and the teacher did not stop them. Leron felt very awkward and looked at the teacher for help. After the laughter subsided the teacher pointed at an empty seat next to the window right close to the group who had just teased at him. “Oh no! He’s so dirty! And he smells bad, very BAD!” One of the girls complained, the others giggled. 24
Leron turned to the teacher, but she replied immediately “Sit down there.” He had no choice, neither did he like them. He sat quietly, not knowing how the he passed the day. At the end of the last class of the afflictive day he just wanted to pack and leave peacefully. But the yell behind said no to his intention. “Hey Leech!” He did not look back. “Hey dirt!” He did not answer. “Hey Negro!” He felt puzzled. “ What’s negro?” “ It’s you, dirty, dusty, disgusting negro Leech!” he stuck out his pink tongue, made a grotesque face and ran away. Furry assembled inside his 25
mind, anger invaded in his mind and he quickly ran up to catch his offender but it was pointless since the guy was faster. He could not help but return home with frustration. Celestine was waiting to start lecturing about the Old Testament. Trying so hard to cover the negative emotions from his face, he still gave out little frustration. But nobody noticed. The sermon went on as usual. â€œHey guys, today weâ€™ll read The Book of Job. This chapter deals with suffering and true faith. Only those who have suffered can savor the significance of true faith from the 26
depth of one’s heart. It starts with a bet between God and Satan concerning whether human’s belief in the Lord is based on the blessings He gives. Job was the finest example among all and thus he was selected for this task. The Lord tests him with a series of the most unfortunate and dreadful strikes, and still Job requested nothing but an answer to all his pain while maintaining his confidence. At the end the answer was still not given to Job, but in readers’ mind the answer can’t be more explicit: it is possible for human beings to 27
retain faith in God and there are unknown powers beyond our knowledge.â€? The children were as irresponsive as expected. Normally they could not understand it at this age, but it was purposefully chosen for a special reason: the church was incapable of taking care of them for their whole life. They must stand on their own feet and endure the harsh treatment from the world as they became adults. Charities always lived on donations, and this situation was now at an unstable circumstance. Kids were like Job himself, but their suffering would begin a lot 28
earlier than Job. “Well, we will only flip through and focus on some important events. Peter, can you read aloud the first paragraph?” “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the 29
men of the east.” Celestine elaborated by interjection, “Here you can see that Job’s personalty and he leads a prosperous life. Continue from here, please.” “…And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his 30
substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” “Here God and Satan disagree with each other. Satan is skeptical of the belief Job has. Now Abraham, please read from 1:13 to 1:19.” “And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came 31
a messenger unto Job, and said, .... The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house. And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.â€?
Celestine knew of the events. She saw the new born baby wrapped in old clothes. He was bloody all over his body and a note was enclosed saying “Please help this poor child. His name is Leron, in memory of his grandfather” The rest of the note was barely readable due to the fact that it was too blurred, “
.” Sinking down in deep
memories, Celestine did not notice that the whole class was looking oddly at her. “Excuse me...” she pardoned herself with two coughs, then kept moving on 33
with faltering paces. Her health was not often good for a certain reason.
Chapter 7 Twisted â€œDear God, my way from the hearth to the school was as torturous as the fire. In street corners I wandered, between intersections I lost, every road I know becomes unfamiliar and I wish the daylight could go straight to the dusk....â€? Leron woke up reluctantly everyday. Life in the real world 34
was extremely demanding: he had to bear vicious words from passers-by, being glared at when passing stands, even the beggars would spit at him, and the twenty-minute-long bus drive was as horrible as the sign â€œColoredâ€? at the very end. Every time he had to squeeze into the crowds while murmuring sorry to the arrogant white. They would scowl at him in return. The bus was old on the outside and stinky in the inside, and they all claimed it was Leronâ€™s fault. How incredibly blind and irrational they can possibly be when it comes to discrimination. One inch 35
away from the church was like the border between heaven and hell. However unwilling he was, accepting it with no groans was his destiny. He was late today and sneaked into his seat while the female teacher was asking questions. “Does anybody know the word 「knife」?” All of them raised their hands and the teacher randomly called on someone to explain the words. “Now who knows the word 「coffin」?” Many of them did, but the one called upon mistook it for 「coffee」“How stupid” commented Leron. The teacher
continued: “Who knows what a shovel is?” Leron raised his hand three times but the teacher never looked at him. This time some raised their hands, and Leron was still not called upon. “and 「minister」?” Very few of the students raised their hands, including Leron. But still, a white girl took a try. “and 「judge」?” Only Leron knew, his hand was high in the air. “Nobody knows it, huh?” The hand flinched from the air, pretending nothing had happened. The teacher started to read the chapters of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Leron looked through the window at the greenest leaves and empty boulevards, minding his own business.
Chapter 8 Awakening At the end of the school day Leron packed up his stuff and prepared to leave. But a gang of bad guys stood on his way while he was walking toward the door. Its leading gangster was a strong muscle gangster called Slayer. He stepped forward and said â€œNegro, got penny donâ€™t you? Give it all to 38
us.” “But all I have is for my bus fee. If you take it away, I won’t be able to take the bus home. Please.” Another guy named Fleer started “Lying! He’s just making up excuses!” “No I am not!” “Give it to us or we bully you!” “Stop lying! Didn’t your dear God tell you not to lie?” sneered Gaby. “But I really don’t have any!” “Come on surrender or you ask for it” “No!” The gangsters exchanged a quick and vicious look, approaching Leron. “What are you doing? Leave me alone! Don’t come any further or I’ll scream! ” But they made Leron stop yelling with fists. After ten 39
minutes or so they left, locking him up in the classroom. Nobody noticed this little bullying. It became darker and darker. The higher the moon arose, the more silent and ghostly the campus grew. The whistling of wind was the only sound until some tread came. â€œLeron? Leron? Leron! Answer me!â€? It was Celestine who came to save Leron from the prison of despair and hatred. She noticed that Leron was late for dinner and decided to visit the school. Leron was half-conscious, suffering from exhaustion, but he made noises by swaying his tied body to make some noise. She 40
noticed this and the locked door, but she decided to climb through a window-sill. The deed was as brave as the way Thetis protected Achilles, for Celestine was always in poor health. Leron’s clothes were taken off . They wrote profanities like“Negro of Prostitute” on his back in chalk. Celestine helped unstrap the rolls and together they left the sad place. It was so late that there were no buses, so they had to walk home. “Leron? Tell me the whole story.” “They...they...” “It’s ok to tell me. Take your time.” “They....wanted to rob me on my bus fare.... ” “Is it the first time 41
they did so? ” “No...several times...but today they punished me... ” “Listen, it’s not your fault, but you just have to stand up for yourself. You understand me?” “hm...but what if this kind of thing keeps happening?” “You can tell the teacher! She will help you.” But deep down inside Leron knew it was impossible, he just knew. He felt extremely sick and hopeless after all the suffering from the outside and murmured to himself “I’m just a leech, useless one, clinging to others, sucking their blood. I’m just as worthless as common wood...” After long quietness, Celestine 42
spoke again, looking compassionate. “My child, don’t really bear those in mind. You are just unique and they are envious of everything you have.” “But I’m useless” “You know what? They are poor, very, very poor, judging someone on their own appearance and despising those who are just different. Like a piece of rotten wood, some people overlook its nature but merely see its outward appearance. Indeed, it may not look bright on the outside, but on the inside it may contain valuable things. You know of the growth rings? They are just as precious 43
as your talent! ” Leron tasted the words sincerely and appeared to grasp a bit. Along the way they talked about other things like how naughty Leron was when little and some other embarrassing things in his childhood as well as the upcoming singing contest. The two close shadows depicted a gracious painting. Chapter 9 A Letter “Dear son, May I call you my son, if you don’t mind? I know this has been hard for you, and I won’t blame
you if you don’t want to forgive me. But I just want to tell you how much I love you, how much I care about you. I watched you grow stronger and stronger day after day by glimpses from the cracks of walls. I heard your laughter everyday and knew you were blessed with all these I can’t even give one millionth. I know I shouldn’t have interfered with your life, but I know of your tears in the night, your morning blues, and your desperate sighs. I wish I could accompany you and ease your burden by your side. But I can’t… some obstacles stand between us, keeping us 45
apart…. Life is a struggle itself, we were all born for suffering. But don’t give in, do not surrender, okay? You are not alone, you are not always alone. I’m here for you….always here…” He felt calm, really calm. After all these years he had already forgiven her. Early in his childhood he had cursed at, despised, but eventually lamented for her. Celestine had taught him the lesson of forgiving and that his mother must have had a reason for this. Speaking of Celestine, she’d been seriously ill. At first it was just a cold, but 46
soon it became tracheitis. They couldn’t afford the fee for hospital. Celestine was put in a poor clinic near the slum. Not exactly a clinic but more like a messy shelter, where beds were lined up, quilts were stained in blood and spit, and pipes were occupied by rats. Leron really missed her, but he had one thing more he must fulfill. Chapter 10 The Contest “Now here comes the last contestant Leron.” The least applause ever. Only Edna. Aura and Dawn were in the
clinic taking care of Celestine. She seemed weaker than ever. Now Leron started singing.
Amazing grace How sweet the sound (The first time I learned of this hymn, the notes from the keys were as pure as summer days. And it still sounds sweet even now...) That saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. (The ordinary roads, the familiar intersections, where I wandered absent-mindedly, feeling lost in the common world. The determined Job, his firm faith, I cried over citing his most dire ordeal in front of the class... ) 48
The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my Shield and Portion be, As long as life endures. (yea…as long as we have faith in Him...though His words I can't fully digest now, God works in a mysterious way...) Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace. (A life of joy and peace, like family…I’m still searching and aching for...) When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.
(No matter good or bad, I thank Him wholeheartedly, those who He sends to me: Aura, Edna...and Celestine. And may God bless her.) The amazingly refined voice from such a little boy in such ragged clothes stunned the whole crowd and judges. Everyone applauded enthusiastically, but he quickly ran down from the stage, heading for the only destination he already decided. Upon arriving at the shelter, he hastily rushed to Celestine. Edna waiting at the door had anxiously told him Celestine could not bear it any 50
longer. He saw her pale, bony face and weak body, too sad to say any words. She’d always been the one he wanted to thank . He had lots to share with her, but the tears dripped without control, and he choked. “No worries, my baby…I feel calm, and I’m not afraid. Here, take hold of my hand. Before you speak, I want to thank you first. Before I met you, my life had been dire and gloomy. I felt so desperate too. But you brought colors to it, and I really thank you.” “I feel the same way too. You must know how much you mean 51
to me. Without you, I wouldn’t have become what I’ve become right now. And…” “Listen to me…” coughing continuously. “You must, you must, you must…Now….I just want tell you that ….I’m your …..your…..” And all of a sudden she was gone. Two days later Leron opened the small paper given to him when Celestine asked him to take her hand. “Dear Leron,
My baby, when you are reading this, I will be gone. There have been a couple of things I wanted to tell you from time to time, but the timing hasn’t been right. I’ve considered it for a long time, and finally I became determined to confess to you. I’m your lost mother, who abandoned you eighteen years ago. I was raped by a black man on my way home. I was a Bible teacher in a university. And he’d been following me. My parents blamed me, deleting me from their life for they thought I’m a shame. Life can sometimes be very cruel to you and you must understand 53
it, like your case and mine. That’s why I chose Job. It’s been a very pleasant time being with you. With great pity I can’t watch you grow up. Promise me you won’t resign your life easily. I struggled very hard to bear you. Please do understand my difficulty. You have your brilliant life. Seize the chance.” With closing the letter, arrived a golden trophy from the contest, first place. However precious the gift was, it couldn’t atone for anything that has gone away.
About The Storyâ€Ś Itâ€™s about a black boy orphaned placed on the doorway of a church where benign sisters kindly adopted him. Together they taught him many things, such as how to sing hymns, and how to appreciate the beauty of life. He thought all men were good and equal until he entered a school that completely changed his world. In the school he learned violence, discrimination, and sympathy. But in the end he conquered all difficulties and proved himself to everybody. 55