Next week, I as I checked my mail, I was in for a surprise for there was another mail from Fr. Mathias. He had read my write up with interest and a had a few questions and wanted a few clarifications. Would I mind sparing some time again and answer an old man’s queries? The questions weren’t easy or straight forward. They were extremely penetrative and if I had to answer them with any meaning, I need to do a lot of introspection. It seemed that his interest in me and my life wasn’t confined to enquiring about some facts and figures about me. The questions indicated that his curiosity was in not just knowing me or about me but the process through which I became what I was. For this, he would ask probing questions going back to my child hood, trying to establish a pattern here, a trend there. By asking gentle, if intrusive questions, he made me revisit my past and stop by sign posts that I would usually hurry by. His e mails came always on a Sunday because as he explained he was not computer savvy and this was the day he was able to obtain assistance to help him draft and send off his emails.
Father Mathias was a priest, yet he never once mentioned God in his weekly e mails. But his persistent probing, prodding and pleading to share more about myself and his on going questions brought me face to face to God. Through his questions, I learnt to visit and reassess my past and see God’s hand in all that was past and trust Him for all that was to come. He taught me to stop and think of all the people that had invested in my life through the years, be grateful for them and try and revisit those friendships. He taught me to journey with my father and his pain through the partition of 1947 and look at the world through his confused, frightened and hurt filled eyes. He taught me to see people not as I usually did but as God might be seeing them.
Fr. Mathias corresponded with me for close to two years and by the time it faded out …. more because of my inability to keep up than any lack of interest on his part, he had left me with enough diaries and notes to compose a short autobiography of a fair chunk of my life. Last month, on a visit to the
Fr. Mathias presented himself to me as a doddering old priest with too much time on his hands and nothing much to do but he was any thing but that. I have no idea what kind of a teacher or priest in real life but he was the one who taught me to always revisit the past , look at it through heaven’s eyes and see God’s hand in every twist and turn.