SO THIS WAS the Mother Divine; an 8-year-old who should probably be in bed at that time of the night.
The thought kept resonating in Samantha’s mind as she sat there quietly with her bewildered and curious gaze fastened on the young child, until she willed herself to turn her thought on something else. It was the Social Department’s problems to worry about school age kids taking to religious fanaticism, not hers to drool over. As it stood, she had far too much trouble to keep her mind busy in the first place.
Presently, the Mother Divine was staring at Samantha with quiet interest. Then turning back to Sister Agatha, she said, “You may speak now.”
Agatha bowed slightly again with her hands clasped together, before she began speaking. “This woman here needs our help, Mother Divine. Her son is troubled…”
“Troubled?” said the girl, without breaking a smile, her focus steady.
“Yes, Mother Divine,” said Agatha, “by foul spirits.”
“And how did you come to befriend her, Sister Agatha?”
“It was at the hospital where the boy lies unconscious. I’d gone there for other concerns but the boy was revealed to me. I saw it in his eyes, Mother Divine.”
The girl paused for a moment, still unsmiling. Then she nodded slowly, suddenly seeming austere. “Of course, I know you did, Sister Agatha, and I know of what you speak.”
There was a moment’s silence, after which the young girl shifted her gaze and turned to Samantha. “What is your name, Child?”
For a brief moment, Samantha hesitated, unsure if she was the one the little girl was addressing and referring to as ‘child’. She gasped quietly, feeling awkward in the gaze of such a young girl who seemed gifted with unknown wisdom. For a moment, her gaze flittered to the faces of the two women standing at either side of the table like sentries, noting in wonderment that any one of them could easily be the girl’s grandmother. Yet here they were, virtually worshipping her, cowering in her presence.
“Samantha,” she answered.
“Welcome, Samantha,” said the Mother Divine quietly. “My heart bleeds for you, for you have seen a lot of darkness.”
Not being sure what to say, Samantha clenched her lips and looked on.
“But first you have to come to the light, Samantha. You cannot defeat the darkness, except you come out of it first. That is the only way out.”
“I…I don’t understand, Mother Divine,” said Samantha timidly, looking lost. Her lips felt uncomfortably dry.
“Of course, you don’t. There’s so much you’re yet to understand, you poor, poor child.” Then she got up from her seat, went around the table and walked towards Samantha. The two sisters flanking her stepped forward as well and took positions at her sides as before.
Agatha Tronnel rose to her feet, still with her eyes lowered and her palms clasped all the while. The only one then who remained sitting was Samantha, and that was because she had wandered off in her thoughts. Then when she realized that everyone was on their feet, it was too late for her to act because the Mother Divine was already standing right in front of her, so close she could feel her breath on the young girl’s face and smell the subtle fragrance of her cologne.
The Mother Divine peered into Samantha’s eyes for one long, intense moment. Then she said, “There’s grave darkness in your soul, Daughter; a darkness that would consume you shortly. Do you believe what I say?”
Samantha gasped with apprehension.
“Do you want to be free? At any cost?”
“Yes, I want to be free.” Her voice was hoarse and broken, and there were tears brimming in them.
“Do you need help?”
She nodded again. “Yes.”
“Then say it, child.”
“What? I don’t under…”
The girl reached out and took her hand gently. “Just say it, Samantha; that’s all there is to it. You have to say the words with your own mouth.”
Samantha hesitated, staring into the eyes of the girl. Then she blinked and a tear ran down her cheeks, followed by another, and another, till she began to cry freely. “I need help, Mother Divine,” she said through bitter tears. “Please help me. Please.”
And she wept painfully.
A small smile lit the little girl’s face then. She gently put out a hand and touched Samantha’s wet cheek. “Be consoled, Samantha, for you have come to the light.”
The tears poured on freely, until the Mother Divine pulled her closer and cradled her face in her body as though she was a little child.