The Baffled Theist

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The Baffled Theist

Each stride of Gordon Golding possessed a determination to reach the railway station as soon as possible though he was not aware at what time he could catch a train to Stockholm.

The Central Station in Gothenburg is an another century’s structure yet constantly modernising its interiors and services.

Gordon paced towards the station as he got off from a bus that brought him from the nearby town in West Sweden. No sooner he had walked past the utility shop Pressbyrån, and ‘the Three Monkeys on Poles’ he was gently waylaid by a stranger.

The stranger quipped, “We have something for you today. Please … if you spare few minutes?”

Disbelief and belief stemmed in Gordon, hearing the words of the stranger ‘we have something for you today’. He said, “Djesus, what’sthatman?”

“Have you read Bible?” the stranger asked delivering each word with caution.

“Hej man. Im indeep shit rightnow. Does it matters you?”

“We want to help you,” the stranger said as confidence grew in him to hold the conversation. “How? You can discover happiness by reading the Bible.”

Like hiccups, a swell of laughter after laughter after laughter emerged from Gordon’s body and danced on his face. He said, “Djesus. I’ve to get the train to clear my assoff, man. I’ve mounds of shit to sort out.”

“I am deeply sorry for you, what happened?”

“My missus dumped me. I’ve no home, man, djesus.”

“Misses?”

“My wife man, or whatever now.”

“I am sorry. It is not an easy situation for any one. I understand that.”

“You can help me, man, to sort this mound of shit in my life now.”

“I am sorry. I do not know how I can help you. But we can help you to overcome the present situation by guiding you …”

“Hej man, djesus! You can help me, man”

“I am sorry.”

“Look man, if uwant tto help me you can, man.”

“I do not know how I can help you. I am sorry.”

Gordon looked into his face, and told him, “Look Mister, you seem to be rich, you can help me man, by buying a meal, a ticket to Stockholm, or just shunt me out of this country in a plane to Caribbean man. I go back, man. Djesus, buy me something, man.”

Frederik Stein was resplendent and his face glowed of calmness. The trench coat, hat and scarf made a statement that he was neither with the trace of bourgeois nor bohemian background. Not a man trying to make his ends meet. On Saturday afternoons, he has started to spare his time to reach out to all those people through his religious affiliation. His parents were born to religious parents but they became irreligious. 

‘How our son turned a theist’ remains a mystery for Frederik’s parents.

“I do not know about that,” Frederik told Gordon referring to his observation that he was a rich man.

“Hej man, djesus. For every damnthing yousay I don’t know or fucking sorry.”

“I am really sorry.”

“Stop that shit. Do you have a Bible with you?”

Frederik was pleased. He immediately took out the Bible from the trolley which he had perched next to the placard, and cautiously, he asked, “Which Testament, you are talking about?”

“A Bible. Whatever the testament it is, man, old or new or both. Take it out,” Gordon instructed.

“Do you want me to read a passage for you?”

“Ask me a question.”

“What?”

“Ask me what Jesus said and where and when and why?”

To test a person’s knowledge on a topic in this way was not only strange for Frederik but also sounded unfair. He politely declined to comply.

Gordon sensed Frederik’s hesitation. He commanded, “Ask me a question.”

Frederik reluctantly opened the Bible, and his eyes rested on a passage. He asked, “What did Jesus say to Peter Simon when Peter Simon said ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for your sake’?

Gordon glanced around, and bent his head with his eyes on the ground for fifty seconds, and lifted his head. He answered slowly, and clearly, “Djesus told Simon Peter ‘Will u lay down your life for my sake, Peter? Most assuredly, I say to u, the rooster sh’lln’t crow till you h’ve denied me three times’” As he completed the recollection, his eyes moistened and sparkled as he recollected the passage and all those unstoppable cane beatings of his dad until he learned the whole Bible by rote.

Frederik was baffled. Forcing himself out of the bafflement, he said admiringly-perplexedly, “You decide what I should buy for you. Amen!”

—Lucinda Palme