A mother’s distress

The face of one of the most ravishing edifices of France, a symbol of pride and the soul of Paris was mutilated by a dastardly fire recently. As smoke billowed across miles, sullying the blue skies, and the raging fire engulfed the Notre Dame Cathedral, ripping off the roof and toppling the spire, cries of shock and disbelief rent the air. And yet through the darkness, burnt wood, mangled wrought iron and steel, the cross seemed to shine forth from what was spared of the altar, signalling perhaps a sign of hope amidst the encircling gloom and despair.

That this iconic monument, a French Gothic architectural marvel which drew thirteen million visitors a year, had endured the test of time for eight hundred years, having stood witness not only to the coronation of kings but to a turbulent history, is remarkable indeed.

As messages of grief and support poured in from around the world, the people of Paris vowed to restore the splendour to its past glory. But till such time, which is likely to take years, beyond the wreck and ruins of the magnificent cathedral, one is bound to feel a sense of anguish at the grief and sorrow that Our Lady (Notre Dame) of Paris must be undergoing.

Seeing the heart wrenching visuals flashed by the media, which only time can erase from memory, my thoughts strayed to another scene far away.

Passing through Seremban, a town about 60 kilometres away from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, I was aghast to see a piece of neglected water-filled land submerged in algae stagnating since long in the midst of a beautiful landscape of buildings harmoniously blending with the green hills behind. Having travelled by the same route on earlier occasions, my memory brought to mind a quaint building modelled on the lines of English architecture.

My curiosity was naturally aroused by the sight which stuck out like a sore thumb and I ventured to seek the reason. The answer to my query gave me a jolt. It seems that the government’s efforts to build an edifice after acquiring the land where previously stood a convent in the name of the Virgin Mary had to be suspended as it had constantly resulted in water logging, which was believed to be the tears of the mother!

The rest of the journey was spent in silence as questions of superstition, belief, faith and divinity battled in my brain. So was it true after all, about the power of the Divine?  

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