I AM NOT OFFENDED WITH YOU
THEN Mimosa went out into the fields. In her
arms lay her first-born son, for the blow had fallen
upon her in a weak hour. She had never heard
of Hagar; but in her grief she walked in Hagar's
steps. She hung her baby in a strip of cotton
stuff and tied it to the branch of an acacia-tree.
For a minute or two she swung the hammock
gently till he slept, and then she went away alone
and sat her down over against him a good way
off, and she cried unto the Lord.
She had never learned to pray, never heard
prayer except when we committed her to the love
of the Lord, before we said good-bye. In Tamil
we have four forms of the pronoun in the second
person. There is thou, used by older to younger
and superior to inferior; there is a second singular
form, a trifle more deferential. The third is used
generally from, say, child to father, and properly
translated you; and there is one higher still,
translated by such words as "your honour,"
" your excellency." In Tamil classic poetry, with
a wonderful instinct for eternal values, the lowest
of all, thou, is used in addressing the Deity, who
is recognized to transcend earth's poor titles of
respect. The Christian usage is to employ the
slightly higher singular form.
Mimosa knew nothing of the classics, nor did
she know Christian usage, so to her the most
natural word was that which she would have
used in speaking to her father; she said you.
"0 God," she said aloud, and the words
seemed to rise through the thin blue air above
her " 0 God, my husband has deceived me, his
brother has deceived me, even my mother has
deceived me, but You will not deceive me."
Then she waited a little, looking up, and
stretching out her arms : " Yes, they have all de-
ceived me, but I am not offended with You.
Whatever You do is good. What should I do
without You? You are the Giver of health and
strength and will to work. Are not these things
better than riches or people's help?" And again
she waited a while.
Then, kneeling there in the open field, she
drew the loose end of her sari round, and spread
it, holding it open before the Lord. In some
such way Ruth must have held her mantle when
Boaz poured into it six measures of barley. To
the Eastern women it means all that ever can be
expressed of humble loving expectation: " For
He said, ' Go not empty.'" Thus Mimosa
knelt: "You will not deceive me."
The sun beat down on her; the little young
cotton plants about her drooped their soft green
leaves, but she knelt on, heeding nothing, her
sari still spread out before her God: "I am an
emptiness for You to fill."
Not one Scripture did she know, there was
nothing from the Book of books for the Spirit to
take and show to her at that moment. But His
resources are limitless, and back to her troubled
mind came the memory of a wise word of her
father's: "He who planted the tree will water
it." Yes, God was her heavenly Gardener. Had
He not planted His little tree, would He not
water it? She dropped her sari and rose.
Then what happened ? Was it, as in that older
story, that God opened her eyes, and she saw a
well of water and she went and drank of it?
Suddenly all her weariness passed. She knew
herself refreshed, invigorated. He had heard,
her God had heard. She was not battling along
as best she could, lonely, desolate. She had
her God. " Oh, what should I do without You?"
The words rose like a triumph song. With the
little gesture of the folded hands which is the
universal Indian Amen, she bowed her head, and
stood a moment drinking from the waters of
comfort. And then she went to the tree where
her baby swung in the light wind, and, taking
him from it, threw the wisp of cloth across her
shoulders, and walked back to her home filled
with a peace that passed her understanding.
| 2005/5/21 22:18||Profile|
THE TULASI PLANT
AND now a gallant purpose formed in her; to the
west of the village lay the cotton fields that had
belonged to her family. Some still belonged to
her relatives. She would work there like any
coolie woman, and earn money to keep her
husband and boy. And she did this, in sun and
wind, and, what was far harder, she worked in
the stuffy little courtyards where the piles of
cotton were flung in heaps to be carded, breathing
the fluff-laden, stifling air for days on end. Ten
minutes in one of those courtyards sends one out
half choked. Mimosa spent an age of minutes
What inspired her, who can tell? She had
never heard the command to owe no man any-
thing. The traditions of her country lay towards
debt, not from it. Her husband, the responsible
one, saw nothing uncomfortable in sitting down
in it. Perhaps it was the delicate purity of her
mind, perhaps the effect of the light from the
lighted candle the winds had not blown out;
whatever it was, it carried her through years of
hard living, and never once through all those
years did her hands drop to her sides in despair.
But the years were piled with pain. Every
indignity which ingenuity could devise was
heaped upon her. For India, kind land as she
is in many of her aspects, can be very cruel to
one who crosses her law of caste and custom, and
a worshipper of a strange God is not beloved in a
The Tulasi plant is sacred through all India.
It is a small inconspicuous basil and it grows
wild everywhere. Some hold that it is pervaded
with the essence of Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi,
and it is considered to be a deity in itself.
Others say it is Sita, Rama's wife, one of the
beautiful Indian women of story. Others say it
embodies all the deities in its fragile, fragrant
stems and leaves and tiny, unpretentious flowers
and fruit. Monier Williams believes it certain
that it is the object of more adoration than any
other plant in India, and so in all the world.
And he quotes the prayer to it: "I adore that
tulasi in whose roots are all the sacred places of
pilgrimage, in whose centre are all the deities,
and in whose upper branches are the Vedas."
Every day millions of Indian women, to whom it
specially seems to belong, walk round it, in its
little pot set in the midst of their courtyard or in
the temple. And they offer rice and flowers to
it, and the childless wife drinks a concoction
made of its leaves chopped fine and mixed with
water, and the snake-bitten finds healing in its
In Mimosa's village it is more feared than
worshipped; for all the people there are Saivites
and, though worshippers of Siva consider it
sacred, it is not to them what it is to worshippers
of Vishnu, or Rama (one of Vishnu's incarna-
tions), and so it comes to pass that the plant in
that part of the country is left to grow and multi-
ply as it likes in the fields, no one touches it for
fear of enraging the gods, and it is not enough
used in worship to put any check on its growth.
Mimosa saw it growing in masses of aromatic
clusters. She badly needed firewood. Its slender
stems do not suggest fuel, but dried they would
serve her need. If the one true God had made it,
her living God, was it His desire that it should
waste itself in the fields? But to use it for
kindling? Who would dare?
She dared. One day she carried home a huge
armful of it, and spread it to dry in her court-
yard. The horrified women gathered round.
"The vengeance of the gods!"
" Oh, bitterly they will avenge themselves on
" Stay, stay, thou fool woman ! Touch it not.
Burn the tulasi of the angry gods ! Disaster will
follow; the curse will fall!"
The clamour grew about her. She stood quiet
in the midst: "But these gods are not as my
God. There is one great God, one only. How,
then, can the lesser gods avenge themselves upon
me? He whom I worship is Creator of the
It was a wonderful chance to witness to the
truth she held. But the women were furious and
terrified too, not hurt in heart, else she could
not have touched the plant. It was not affection
that sharpened their abuse, it was fear; fear of
the vengeance of the offended powers.
Mimosa used her fuel and, to the surprise of
the village, nothing immediately happened. But
they still said, Parpom.
And she was a derision daily.
| 2005/5/23 21:41||Profile|
HER second baby was such a lovely little fellow
that she called him Mayil, little peacock; for the
thought of that gorgeous bird to this colour-
loving people is not spoiled by foolish human
talk of pride being somewhere in the heart of it.
Little peacock meant just beauty, and the joy of
it. Her golden boy, she called him, too, and
the word was hardly too adoring, for the smooth
velvet of such a baby's skin is not just brown,
indeed, hardly brown at all. It is full of warm
light, like sunlight seen through water on brown
stones, and the eyes with their long curled lashes,
and the little red mouth, are so many several
What of the scorn of the village now? It was
nothing, just nothing. For six blessed months
she nursed her little treasure, taking him out
with her to the fields, hanging his hammock to
a branch of a tree, going to him now and then as
her work allowed; and he throve in the pure air
and grew in loveliness every day.
Then the rainy season came, and she could
not take him out with her. Kinglet, her first-
born, was now two and a half, and, after doing
the work of the house, she used to hang Mayil in
his hammock, tie a rope to it, set a pillow on
the floor, put a bowl of food beside it, and say
to Kinglet: " Stay, little one, and sit there, here
is rice, eat it when hunger comes to thee. If thy
little brother cries, see, here is a rope, pull his
cradle back and forth till he be quiet. Be good
till I return."
And then with a heavy heart (but what else
could she do?) she would go out to the fields;
and from nine in the morning till six in the even-
ing those two babies were left alone, two and a
half to tend six months.
Wet to the skin and weary she would return at
sunset and go straight to her poor baby. But
those eight hours without food or drink left him
greatly exhausted, and her tears would fall on
his face as she nestled him in her arms and tried
to make up to him for all he had been missing.
Till the wet season was over, this was the daily
routine. Not a neighbour, not a relative, offered
to see to her poor little boys while she was out.
But this did not seem strange to her. " What
would you ? I was not a woman of the Way, nor
was I a Hindu woman." And that seemed reason
enough to give. Why should anyone have helped
her? She was not as they. And the patience
in her face was like the look one sees on the
mountains, when the clouds that hang about them
in the evening deepen the quiet beauty of valley
But her poor little Mayil never quite recovered
from his unmothered days. He was as frail as
a flower of the heat, that grows up somehow
through the red clod, but is never like the sturdy
flower of the rain. He was tall and slim, and his
beautiful eyes were like stars. He would never
leave his mother, once he had her, without bitter
crying and clinging, and she dreaded having to
part with him for an hour. When he was older,
and could sit by her while she did her cooking,
he would play contentedly, if only he might have
the end of her sari in his hand.
But he was as happy as a bird, and like a bird
he sang his own little songs that he made for
"What rice to-day, mother?" he would ask.
And she would tell him. And then he would
begin to croon a line or two, to a tune of his own.
"What singest thou, little peacock?" she
would ask him.
" I sing a song of the rice," he would answer.
And then he would take three pebbles like her
three cooking stones and lay a shard of pottery
upon them. " See, I, too, am cooking rice, I blow
the fire, I fill the pot, I cook the rice : see, I cook
it, and I sing to it!" and he would play and
sing, happy to be near her. " Without me," said
his mother, "he could not bear to be."
He did not learn to walk soon. Someone
suggested planting his little feet in the earth,
like two little trees. " Plant them deep. Make
the holes deep, up to his knees, and press the
earth down. Then will he be compelled to stand,
and finally will walk."
But Mimosa thought it a cruel way, and in-
stead contrived a small push-cart out of some odd
pieces of wood, and he learned to walk at last.
| 2005/5/24 23:41||Profile|
BUT before he could walk, another little one
came who was to grow up to be very heart's joy.
Music, as we see him now, is a child so sensitive,
so pure of spirit, that the verse about the child-
ren's angels comes constantly to mind. But his
life, like his little brother's, had its early troubles.
His mother was very ill, and lay in weakness and
in loneliness so profound that Kinglet, then
barely five years old, and her husband, who,
though so futile, was not an unkind man, and
who just then was at home with her, were her only
nurses, her only help.
When her baby was ten days old she called her
husband. He had not noticed how day by day
the little store of grain grew less. He walked in
a sleepy dream. But for Mimosa no such dreams
might be, she knew to an ounce how much rice
there was. She had counted on being able to
work by now. But the will that had carried her
through so much was helpless before this on-
slaught of great weakness.
" I cannot go to the fields," she said, " but will
you not go to the town by the sea"-and she
named it-"and tell my youngest brother how
things are? Tell him I am weak, but will return
anything he may send. Ask him for the loan of
two rupees; two only will suffice." And she sent
This younger brother had been well educated,
as the elder brother, of whom we shall hear later,
had been. And once, during the long holidays
when he was ill here, we had nursed him day and
night. He, like his elder brother, had been bap-
tized ; but, like him, though continuing a Christian
in name, he had long ago turned back to the
Mimosa knew this. "He has never spoken to
me of that which he once believed, but surely he
cannot have forgotten all? Surely he will be
kind ?" she thought. He had got well-paid work
as a result of the education given by Christians'
money. Would he grudge two rupees of it to
help her? She would return it; he knew she
would return it.
But after her husband had gone she lay and
thought of it. She had never before asked any-
one for anything. She felt doubtful. Had she
made a mistake?
There was a side room at one end of the house.
It had no windows, only a door opening off the
inner verandah. She kept her stores of grain
there, when there were stores to keep. She used
the room for prayer, for it was quiet, remote from
the noise of the street
When I heard this story, the passing of the
years had softened its outlines; but when I asked
Mimosa what else was in the room, her eyes filled
with the sweetest smile.
"Why, nothing," she said, "nothing but quite
empty earthen vessels. Nothing else at all was
in that room that day."
She rose slowly from her mat and, leaning on
the wall for support, went to the room, taking her
baby with her and calling to the other two little
boys to come. They left their play and followed
her in. Then she partly shut the door-not quite,
lest the darkness should trouble the children-
and with her arms round them she told her Father
just what she had done, how she had never done
so before, how she would understand if it could
not be as she had asked, how she would know
then that He had some other way to come to her
relief. "And it will be well, Father; however
You do, it will be well."
Her husband returned. A walk to and fro of
thirty miles had been for nothing, for he had not
brought back any money. " No," the younger
brother had said, forgetting the kind ways of his
land, " she is weak. How can I know she will
ever be strong enough to work and return it?"
Then Mimosa took her little three into that
dim room again. The larger empty pots stood
on the floor, the smaller ones were heaped in a
corner. " Father, it is well," she said. " All that
You do is well."
But the children's food? She paused for a
minute, then in their hearing said : " O Father,
it cannot be that Your little ones are to be hungry,
and yet it appears to be so. I do not understand
it, but it is well." And she led them out of the
empty room and shut the door.
Now, among her relatives was one, only a dis-
tant relative, but so connected that for her to work
in his fields was as if Ruth worked in the corn-
fields of Boaz; and he was a kind and a just man.
He had observed Mimosa; he knew that, wherever
she was, the work was done faithfully, and there
was no need to overlook it. He came now to
inquire when he might hope to have her back
She told him that she could not say when she
could return, for she could not regain her
"Then send thy husband," was his not un-
natural rejoinder; and he would have gone, but,
noticing her thin, tired face, he drew the truth
"This cannot be! I will not let it be!" he
exclaimed. And he sent at once a supply for six
days, enough to stir up the poor, slack husband
to turn his hand to some honest work, so that the
loan was soon returned, enough to cheer the soul
of the wife, who saw in it the loving hand of her
God. Once more she and her children went into
the dark little room, now furnished with grain,
and to her grateful faith it was an illuminated
| 2005/5/28 0:44||Profile|
DID SHE NOT BURN THE TULASI ?
LITTLE MAYIL was three, and his small brother,
a chubby, glowing baby, had just begun to find
his way all over the house on eager, uncertain
little feet when one evening at dusk, while she
prepared the evening meal, Mimosa was startled
by a cry from her husband and ran to him on the
outer verandah. See, see! A thorn has run
into my right foots ankle!
But there was no thorn; it must have been a
snake. No snake could be found. It had stung
the foot and then glided off into the twilight.
A snake! A snake! No call in all India
can more quickly gather a crowd. In the twink-
ling of an eye, as it seemed, the house was full of
people, commiserating, inquiring, advising, de-
claiming, prophesying death and destruction. It
was only the usual crowd that attends upon all
excitements and completes all confusions; but in
and out of it and through it ran real emotion,
real distress. Relatives wailed aloud, women tore
their hair, and beat themselves, and violently
knocked their heads against whatever hard thing
lay near. To everyone poor Mimosas husband
was as good as dead.
Meanwhile, thus encouraged, the poison as-
cended to the skull until the bitten man was in
desperate pain, as if the bones were being cleft
in two, and the sympathetic clamour waxed
louder and more excited, and the street filled as
half the village turned out to mourn and lament
his rapidly approaching death.
And in the midst was Mimosa, doing what she
could to relieve him, paying no heed to the sibi-
lant whisper that presently began to fill the room
like the hissing of a snake. It is she! It is
she! It is she that has swallowed her husbands
life. It is she! It is she! Did she not burn
the tulasi ?
The excitement subsided, for her husband did
not die, but lay very ill and tormented with pain,
and she knelt by the stricken man, and she
prayed, crying upon her God, the God of gods,
and she went into the little dark room and held
out her sari in supplication to Him. And she
nursed him with all the skill she knew, putting
on poultices of fine-chopped rice straw, and feed-
ing him with tempting food. And her faithful,
tender heart rejoiced exceedingly when at last he
was out of danger of death; but he was blind and
he was mad. Blind and mad on her brave hands !
| 2007/4/29 19:38||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
Brother, it has been a long time. Hope it is well with you.
| 2007/4/29 21:41||Profile|
boy howdy, time flies when the Lord is turning your world upside down :)
I am doing well..thanks
| 2007/5/1 0:00||Profile|
IT was just then, then in her desperate hour, that
There were a few Christian families in the
village, but none of them took any notice of
Mimosa; for, with the exception of one family,
they were of another caste, and they were all of
the kind known as Name-Christians. It is easy
to blame them and wonder at their lovelessness
but if they had interfered in her affairs it is not
likely they could have continued to live peace-
fully in the village. Her caste would have made
life most unpleasant for them. Only a very
ardent love will face things being made uncom-
fortable, and is ardent love found everywhere?
The one Christian family belonging to Mimosas
caste was confessedly nominal-Christian only
because the grandfather and grandmother had
joined the Way years ago, and, being conserva-
tive in feeling, the family stayed on in the re-
ligion. But between its kind of Christianity and
Hinduism pure and simple there had never been
much of a hedge, and the hedge, such as it was,
had many gaps now, through which one might
comfortably creep. To such, a converted, en-
lightened Mimosa would have been very un-
But the old grannie who was not nominal
still lived. Her picture, drawn once for all will
be found in Fabers Old Labourer.
What doth God get from him ?
His very mind is dim,
Too weak to love, and too obtuse to fear.
Is there glory in his strife?
Is there meaning in his life?
Can God hold such a thing-like person
Thing-like person ? So she may have seemed;
but she was a Kings messenger. She had been
away from her village for some time, and now
returned, very old, very stupid, very ignorant.
She had never learned to read, and she had long
ago forgotten or ceased to be able to tell any
Bible story she had ever known. The very name
of Jesus our Lord seems to have slipped from
her; she only spoke of God, using a word she
might have used if she had been a Hindu; but
she remembered it meant Father, and this was
the word she gave Mimosa, to whom every
lightest syllable was a crumb from the loaf of
He will never forsake you; He has never
forsaken me. Meditate on Him and He will not
forsake you. In Heaven (she used the word that
means Release) there is no pain. To that good
place He will take you. He will wonderfully
lead you. In every least thing He will wonder-
fully lead you.
And she repeated this over, as the aged will,
and said: He who is God is your Father. He
will wonderfully lead you, in every least thing
He will wonderfully lead you.
Soon afterwards she lost the little memory she
had, and no one knew what her thoughts were.
But she heard the angels sing when she was
One other help was given.
In Mimosas village there was a room where
the Christians worshipped, and in the same room
the children of their families were taught by a
loud-voiced teacher, who chanted his lessons in
a sing-song tone, caught up and echoed down the
street by the children.
One day when Mimosa was passing she heard
the verse being chanted.
Do not rub on ashes,
Do not offer matted hair to idols.
The boast of the boaster is like the bite of the
When the Coming King arrives to judge,
excuses will not pass with Him.
It was rather a medley of words, tossed together
more because of their Tamil sound than for
mental affinity. The gist of it, however, caught
her fancy, so the jostle of ideas did not matter.
Sivas ashes, the matted, undressed hair of the
devotee offered to the gods, the prideful boast
that falls before the Coming King-a new name
this-led straight to a new idea. Her Lord must
be coming back to the world. That was the one
We can gather up the less than an infants
fistful of seed corn given to Mimosa. We can
count the seeds, they were so few: there were
nine. That God is, that He loves, guides, and,
being the God of gods, is all-powerful, that He
listens when we pray, that as a Father we may
think of Him and that He who plants the tree
will water it. That the Place of Release is much
better than this world, for there is no pain there,
and that the Lord who lived here before will come
back. She had also heard that some time, at
the last, there would be a judgment and excuses
would not stand. But this event felt too remote
to find much place in her theology.
Of her Saviour as Christ crucified she knew
nothing yet. In the few minutes she was with us
we could only begin to tell His story, and chiefly
we spoke of Him as the Lord who loved her. But
she had seen Him without knowing Him. Who
is the Lord, that I might believe on Him ? And
before the Saviour of the world had time to
answer, It is He that talketh with thee, she
was caught away. But what can hinder the
following power of the love of Christ? And who
can measure the force of the life of a seed?
Open one of earths little seeds and find the
plant that is to be, carved in polished ivory. See
the packing of the nourishment required. See,
and worship and adore.
Of all the stories we have touched since we
came to India, hardly one has humbled us so
much, as we thought of our faithless fears for the
little Mimosa. But hardly one has lifted us so
high in adoration, and in wonder, and in awe.
| 2007/5/1 0:19||Profile|
ONE evening, while these things were happening
to Mimosa, we at Dohnavur spent an hour with
the polariscope just acquired for our microscope.
Joyfully we tried the different combinations
offered by polarizer, selenite, and mirror.
Feathery crystal of barium platino-cyanide, like
sprays of peacocks feathers, fairy cornucopia
from a fern, the little thorny marvel of a soles
scale-these and a score of others held us en-
chanted. Then as the blues and lilacs and violets
and purples paled into something like the steel-
blue of sheet lightning, we wanted the indigo of
the thunder-cloud for background, and for those
opalescent seashell colours, that are like nothing
earthly, but must be sought for in air and water,
we wanted the beryl of the sea; and so it went
on till we knew the perfect background for each
delight; the difficulty was to get it.
We had just touched perfection with an ex-
quisite blue against brown like the bark of a tree
-only that polariscope colours are never flat but
always, as it were, an atmosphere-the little
spikes on the soles scale were gleaming poniards,
and iridescent lights played on the plated armour;
not a pearly tint was lost, when one of the
children, eagerly sharing this pleasure with us,
moved the adjustments and lost the perfect foil.
We tried to recover it, but in vain. We did
not know the laws of light well enough to find it.
Or it may have been that the setting sun had
dropped his cooler tones and was only all red
flame. Whatever the cause, till days afterwards,
when we found it again, we thought of it as a kind
of little, visible, lost chord, beautiful, elusive,
within the fraction of a turn of a wheel, but out
of reach of our commanding. If only we had
better known the laws of light, if only we could
have stayed the going down of the sun, should
we not have found it with a touch ?
We all have our small and private windows
which look out upon great matters. This little
clear window did for us that day look out upon
far fields. What if we could look through some
heavenly polariscope and read, as, perhaps, the
angels read, the meaning of the background for
the colours of our lives? But then we should
miss the blessing of those who do not see and
It is difficult to imagine oneself stripped of all
helps to faith, whether from the text of the Book
itself or these its illuminated illustrations; but if
this story is to be understood, and not merely
taken at a run and forgotten, there must be some
mental effort here. Mimosa stood alone among
her people, a woman charmed by a beauty she
could not show to them. Round her were the
blazing streets, the little, hot houses, the curious,
unsympathetic faces, the crowding work of life.
But always it was as if One only just out of sight
were moving through those streets with her.
What He did with her was good. Was He not
all-powerful, so that He could direct everything?
Had He not shown her by a thousand secret signs
that she was loved ? Would she, who was only a
human mother, deny one good thing to her little
son if she had the power to grant it? No more
In this way, by the low-set stepping-stones
that lead across the stream that divides the
material from the spiritual, she found herself in
a place where nothing could shake her. The
strange colours of her background could not
perplex her. And this was what she really meant
when she said, not asking for blue days, but
looking up steadfastly into grey skies, beaten by
rain and wind, I am not offended with You,
no, not even while her poor husband lay mad
and blind, and the people pointed at her and
said : Did we not say Parpom ?
| 2007/5/1 23:08||Profile|
I have long loved the story of Mimosa. It is beautifully told as you say and is, to me, a thrilling testimony to the fact that God does not leave himself without a witness. Mimosa pursued those tiny sparkles of insight that God gave her through a pagan darkness as thick as Egypts, but pursue she did, and having diligently sought, she found.
She reminds me of Rahab who, while the 2 spies returned to the comfort and fellowship of the camp, maintained her lonely vigil of faith in Jericho. Little wonder that James puts her alongside Abraham as a supreme example of faith. When 'the roll is called up yonder' I think we shall find many Mimosas and the Mimosas may wear heavier crowns than many a preacher.
| 2007/5/2 1:16||Profile|