Thursday, December 07, 2006


On a Sunday morning, it is customary for me to attend the 8.00 a.m. mass at the lovely St. Aloysius College Chapel in Mangalore. My family, and I have frequented this chapel for the last 30 years or so. I was an altar boy in this chapel from class VI to X. Nowadays I am in charge of the offertory collections. (These are collections in monetary form from the congregation) I arrange to have it collected and then place the offerings in an alms box and lock it. The Procurator of the college will open it later and count the offerings. An announcement is made on the next Sunday of the collections made on the previous Sunday. This system has been followed so as to avoid tempting the sacristan (the chapel caretaker) to dip in.

The St. Aloysius College Chapel

(Altar View)

So it was on one Sunday, last year, that I was emptying the collections into the alms box, that I spotted this scrap of paper. I picked it up, placed it aside and proceeded to lock the box. I almost forgot the piece of paper; the priest who had said mass attracted my attention to it. It was folded lengthwise, I carefully opened it. It was a note; written in a plain but legible handwriting and in perfect English. I began reading it and watching my facial expression the Reverend asked me ‘What is it’? I looked up and read the note aloud:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am really very sorry for the crime of robbery which I have done. I know that I have put me & my parents to shame. I am really very sorry Lord for the pain that I have given you and my parents. I promise you lord never I will rob others money or other valuable things or ordinary things. I will leave smoking and drinking whisky, rum etc which I did without the knowledge of my parents. I humbly ask forgiveness lord, please forgive me and don’t let my parents know about this. I will be a good boy and work for your glory. I will be obedient to you & my parents. Please lord don’t allow to spread the rumour that I robbed the cell. Even my friends name should not come. Please lord. This I ask in your loving name. Amen.

There was silence in the sacristy. I looked at the Padre. He seemed to be startled. Giving me a side glance he said ‘Naïve boy. It must be a student. Let’s go’ and with a booming ‘good morning!’ to old Mrs. Pinto, he was off.

I took the note and slipped it into my pocket and moved on.

The St. Aloysius College Chapel

(Rear View)

That night I read the note again. Questions began forming in my mind. I carefully folded the note and put it in my bag among some papers. It has remained there, until yesterday. I was cleaning my bag and stumbled on this note and once again the questions flooded my mind.

Who was the author of the note? Considering his innocence, a high school student perhaps, probably in the VIII std. or so? What was it that made him write this note? Was he naïve, as the padre observed? Why did he put the note in the offertory collection? Did he think that by doing so, all his acts would be forgiven? What made him think that this note would be read, or for that matter, ignored? Where is he today? Is he well on his way to becoming a Charles Sobhraj or…..a Mahatma Gandhi? Has he made the transition?

Has God forgiven him?

I am preserving the note. When we meet next, please ask to see the note. Maybe what I am carrying in my bag could well be a piece of History!

Visit the St. Aloysius College Chapel @


Harsha Shettigar said...

Hopefully Sir:)

You write well.Wasn't expecting this from a 40 something "dude".

rt said...

nice narration Sir as usual :)

Hogwarts said...

the events make a truly suitable plot for a good short reminded me of O.Henry's short stories which were abt ordinary men and their lives and were just as heart touching...- joydeep