Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Prodigal - Short Novel

"It has been almost a year since I've left home. Still, I could not forget the roasted lamb, the bitter herbs and vineyard wine on my lips. It's as though I could taste it as I close my eyes right now. But now, I'm contented with bread and water... that's perfect by any standard for trash like me..."

Patrick thought as he strolled down the path home - the path he swore to never walk again. But fate seems to play its own cards. The field holds the familiar scent of the harvest - a smell that only those who lived there could recognize. The horizon filled with the sea of white barley in the setting sun is captivating enough to swoon any maidens' heart. But in Pat's heart was no maiden. No woman. Instead, his mind lingered on his past, his actions, HIS SINS...

His heart was dirtier than the "filthy rags" he was wearing. At least this one thing is still clear to him.

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men..."
As he thought, his lips moved to murmur, but his quiet determination broke down into silence. Pat could barely lift his eyes up, feeling the crushing shame on his shoulders - and it was a burden too heavy for one in his time. Yet, the enormous weight did not halt his pace.

Walking on silently, he thought about many things, his Father, his mother, brother, sisters, relatives, servants, belongings.... all that he LEFT behind. Patrick has always lived under the shadow of his elder brother, James. There was no doubt that James was better, smarter, and more hardworking in more ways than even the servants! And James had always had little expectations about what Patrick could achieve in life. "And I proved him right", Pat mumbled under his breath.

A sudden gust of chilling countryside wind made Pat pulled his jacket tighter. He remembered the hurricane he caused when he stormed off. Hearts cut, temper thrown, verbal daggers and back stabs. A beautiful family crushed into pieces. Like a rose trampled by the feet of men, it's hard to imagine how a family so perfect could be torn apart by men; and Patrick WAS SUCH A MAN...

Grrrrr.... and then silence.

Pat's stomach growled. It was days since he tasted anything at all. He remembered the pods the pigs ate, and how for a moment of madness he would have dug into the pods himself. "What a job! And even worse pay! I could hardly buy a loaf of bread with 5 days worth of wages... and that's not enough for even a child labourer..", the arguments with his employer lingered in his ears. These brought grief to his heart.. an ache he could clearly remember when he walked out of the door. Kleenex, shouting, slamming on the table, tears, and the door shutting behind him - the very pain that made him replay his Father's tears - like a broken cassette player in his mind.

Walking to a few hundred meters from his house, his knees caved in... The spirit was willing to go home, but the flesh was weak. After all, that was the way he succumbed to the very temptations in his life - pleasure, women & wine. And the greatest temptation was to ask for his Father's death before its time... The jellylike knees, is after all, the way his body was communicating what he did not dare to say out of the mouth.. That he was willing to come back home, like a dog with the tails between its hind legs...

No more vanity, pride and selfishness.
Only brokenness, humility and shame hangs on his head.

With all his might, Pat dragged his feet in the sand; with his eyes on the ground, he strolled for another few steps when his feet halted and just as how it began to walk, this time, it turned about and started to walk away - in the same direction it made one year ago, down the same road.

"I can't do this. I can't put them through the pain again. I walked out. I failed. I disappointed them. I am not worthy. Not worthy to serve and earn a wage. Like an animal, I belong with the pigs. I'm too cruel to be human, to be worthy of them. Walking away was the choice that I MADE. This time, I don't get to choose to walk in again..."

As he walked away, he could hear the distant, yet familiar sound of the gate opening. Instantly, memories of previous Passovers filled his mind. The slaughter of the lamb. The painting of the lamb's blood on the door post. This ritual his Father had observed every year with him watching. "How could a Lamb's blood take away sin? If only it can easily take away my sins against my Father and against Heaven! How can a Holy God be pleased and satisfied with the blood of an animal?" Tears streamed down Pat's face...

From behind...
Then, a warm memorable voice...


A strong burly arm grabbed Pat on the shoulders and tugged him to turn.
Pat turned to face his Father. The one whom he has sinned against...

But words just escape Pat's lips...
"Father I.... I have sinned ...." he stammered. The words just fail to resound.. "against heaven and against you..... I am no longer worthy to be called your son...."

Before Pat could continue, Father cut him off and commanded Joshua, the servant... "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found".

Their eyes met.
And for the first time ever, staring at each other - like there's so much to be spoken from the window of the soul.

Wrapping His arms around Pat, Father's warm voice beckoned, "Welcome Home".
They hugged. For a minute or two, two grown men were embracing each other, tears rolling out like the flood. No public decency, no "I told you so" talk. This was love in action.

At that point, Pat just broke down.
He's felt the hard reality of life.
And this embrace was just where it's safe. In his arms. In his love.
"I was dead, but now I feel so terribly alive..."

"I'm home", Pat said and smiled weakly...
"I'm Home"...


yapthomas said...

in each and everyone of us..
this happens alot..
we tend to forget home and maybe has been far away from home..
just like me and now when I am back.. i can just call it home.. the real true home...
with all the love and warmth...

3POINT8 said...

wow....did u write this yourself?
This is pretty impressive considering its from a msian author.

Randy Khoo said...

Thomas - yeah.. It's pretty nostalgic eh?

3point8 - yeah. I wrote it myself! Thanks! I hope to write my own book one day, though not a novel though :p.. I'm a copywriter actually so, I'm trying to sharper my skills here and there.. Thanks for dropping by! hahaha

jiaweiC said...

You write very well. Is your story based on the bible? I'm not a Christian, but the part where the father asks the servant to bring his son robes was vaguely familiar.

Perhaps you'll write an extended version of this and post it up again on Innit? I look forwad to more of your stories. =)


3POINT8 said...

Wow! a copywriter!
I now have another blog I can stalk now. Ahahaha.
Do write more! Maybe someday I get to copy your style! huahuahuax3

Randy Khoo said...

jiaweic - Yeah.. It's actually a bible story.. lol..
The Prodigal Son - Luke chapter 15
I did thought of writing the WHOLE novel.. but scared of the long hours and commitment to perfection.. :(

I try to write a different version ya!!! Ask you to read then...

3POINT8 - yes la.. copywriter..
lol.. you stalk copywriters? Stalk Pam Song la.. hahahah

3POINT8 said...

pamsong is a copywriter meh?
ah yes.. I stalk ppl who can write good post, esp if they are copywriters, and esp if they are some leng lui