“Mister, a lei for five pesos only.”
The little girl was barely eight years old if his estimation was correct. With a stark malnourished frame though she could be twelve.
Henry took a coin from his pocket and paid the child. He was aware that the fragrant garland of jasmine, often sold outside the premises, was the favorite offering to the statue of the Virgin Mary.
At twenty five, it was only the third time in his life that he entered any house of God. The first when he was baptized while the second was when he attended mass for the funeral of his parents who died in a vehicular accident. Other than those occasions, he had practically removed religion from his life.
He sat at the last pew nearer the main door. If after a few seconds there’s nothing special to arouse his consciousness, he could get out like the way he came in, unnoticed.
“She could help you,” an old lady whispered to him as she passed by. “Give it to her and you’ll see.”
Henry stared at the lei in his hands, He had no intention of approaching the statue, let alone offer something so simple.
But he did after a few minutes of contemplation. If all the people inside the church believed for her intercession directly to God, why not him?
He felt the heavy burden in his heart was lifted after stepping out the holy site. Inner peace that he had not savored for a long time was his.
“A few coins, please,” cried a lame creature on the pavement.
Henry emptied the contents of his wallet and gave it all to the beggar. He had no inkling why he did such a generous deed.
The beggar wept shamelessly. His elation was so complete that he uttered, “Bless you! You’ll find what you’re looking for.”
He was about to walk home when he noticed a commotion a few blocks away. Usually he would go the other way to evade detection from authorities who would swarm the crime scene. He did not need the unwarranted suspicion towards him.
But, there was something pushing him to investigate. His gut feeling was silent.