The night that was…

War had not broken their spirit. Their actions give a new hope for mankind and humanity.

– A.J. Cronin

This story is a fictional but still heart-warming account of a family whose spirit has been broken by war and a kind man, who in this age when even family is eyed with suspicion, gives them shelter on a cold night.

It was a freezing cold night. Rob found a homeless family at his doorstep and invited them into his home to sleep. But in the morning, they were nowhere to be seen. Fearing a robbery in the house, Rob checked all his precious belongings. To his surprise, nothing was stolen. “What a strange family!” he muttered to himself. As he hurriedly went to work, he dismissed the incident from his mind. Little did he know what awaited him on his return!

He found the same family sitting at his doorstep. There were three of them – a couple and their daughter. “Please let us in,” pleaded the woman. “Why should I? Yesterday I did and you disappeared! I don’t even know you,” Rob said haughtily. “Dear sir, please help us,” said the woman in tattered clothes, clutching her child to herself. Rob let them in, feeling sorry. But on the condition that they must make him dinner.

As he sat near them while the couple made dinner and their daughter snored sweetly, he got to know that their names were Nahlia and Lucky. Their daughter had been christened Eliza. Rob expected some simple food to come his way but was surprised when Nahlia served him a hearty three-course meal! “Wow! Where did you learn to cook like this? I mean, no offense, but you certainly couldn’t have afforded any formal training,” said Rob, licking his fingers. “We weren’t always so poor, you know,” said Nahlia. “In fact, we were quite well-off,” Lucky added.

“Then how come you are in this condition now?” asked the ever-so frank Rob. “We lived in Gaza and our families did business together. We married each other three years ago when the war wasn’t so intense. After a year, we were blessed with Eliza,” said Lucky. Nahlia continued, “we hoped the war would get over soon but we were wrong. Lucky lost his job in the family business when a bomb destroyed the factory.” Robin now realised their problem and said, “why didn’t you work Nahlia?” She replied, “I did! I worked as a chef in a restaurant. But when both our parents were killed in another bombing, I had to leave my job.” “I am very sorry to hear that. So, what are you doing in India?” Lucky said, “After our parent’s death we decided to leave. Neither Egypt nor Israel seemed safe. Using all our leftover resources, we came to India in a ship carrying workers.” Rob said, “And I can see you had no luck in finding work here.” “You’re right. Nobody would let us stay or work without our visa or passport. The last six months we’ve spent here, we have been alive on leftovers given by kind strangers. We never thought we’d make it, but the benevolence of Indians has given us new hope,” said Nahlia.

Rob was deeply moved by their story and surprised how content they seemed even after they knew a war was raging on in their homeland. Their family photos further reassured him that they were not lying. As he lived alone and had no relatives alive, he could connect with them. He made them a generous offer, “I can get your identity verified by my uncle who works in the police. As soon as your paperwork is complete, I can get you jobs.” “Really?” asked Nahlia and Lucky together. “Oh yes! My friend owns a big restaurant nearby. He is in need of educated staff. Nahlia, you can work as a chef and Lucky can be a waiter there,” said Rob. “That’s great! But what about Eliza? She’s just two, we can’t leave her alone,”said Nahlia. “Don’t worry. She can go to the neighbourhood day care school and I’ll pay for her. As far as your living quarters are concerned, you can live in my basement for as long as you want,” Rob said. “How can we ever repay you?” asked Nahlia as Lucky nodded in agreement. “That’s easy, just make my food daily and I’m more than happy,” said Rob calmly. At this point, Eliza woke up and said “thank you!” Everyone’s eyes filled with tears; tears of joy, satisfaction, love and most importantly – a family bond.


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