She must be in her high teens or touching the twenties. A cute, lean,
blonde she is. However, her face was without expressions, she seldom
smiled and hardly talked. Her movements were robot-like.
She stood behind the restaurant counter painted in black. The dominant
theme of the restaurant was black. Black counter, black table-cloths,
the pillars which held the glass panels giving us a view of outside
were also painted black. She, like all the other waiters wore long
black trousers, black shirts with long-sleeves. All that was visible
from that black drape was her white expression-like face, dead tired
eyes and her short blonde hair.
In short, she and her team in that blackish restaurant intensified its
melancholic air. My team ate three meals there for five days. We were
there in that country which was part of former USSR. Tired after long
meeting, we wallked in to the restaurant to be refreshed, but the
melancholic air of the restaurant made us more tired and sick even
though the food was really good.
My friend is fun-loving and he loves to talk, and enjoys jokes. This
is not the kind of surroundings that he like to be in. One day, when
he cannot stand the waiters who seldom greeted the guests, but was
duty bound, just placed the three courses one after other and cleared
them without a smile, he decided to pull out one of his tricks.
"Hi, Elvina!" he said as she was clearing the table. "Can I have a
glass of water?" She raised her head and looked at him and knew he was
adressing her. He repeated, "Elvina, I would like to have some water."
"I am not Elvina!" she retorted; but she was not angry! "Then who are
you?", my friend insisted to know. She smiled and said in a rather
subdued tone, "I am Christiana!" "Oh, sorry Christiana! What do you do
besides working here, are you a student?" Christiana smiled again and
told us that she is a student, working towards a job in hotel
management. Then whenever, we walked in to the restaurant she smiled
at us from behind the counter painted black, and whenever he laid the
food on the black table-cloths she wished us. My friend has made
Christiana smile and talk!
Christiana is representative of a generation of young people whose
parents never taught them to smile though they were free to. Their
parents and grandparents have been through repressive communist
regimes that not only rationed out food and comforts but controlled
their intellectual and emotional life.
In the streets, people don't care to make eye-contact with others. The
cashiers at the super-market counters don't greet the customers. The
bus-driver looks away from the passenger as they enter the bus. The
people of this country are still under the spell of the repressive
regime though they are free.
There is religious freedom in almost all countries that belonged to
the Eastern block; Freedom to propogate and to practice ones faith.
However, having lived their lives for three generations without
religion the natural hunger for God that every human being has seems
to have died out. The new generation generally doesn't care. Their
parents did not go to churches or Sunday Schools and they do not know
why these are essential for their children. If they could manage their
without these then their children should also.
We have been hearing a lot about religious freedom in the former
communist countries ever since Berlin wall fell. However, as I walked
through the doors, what I found is freedom but a freedom nobody like
to make use of and is not excited about.
It is not only in former USSR or but people who had gone through
similar repressive regimes also feel the same way. I remember praying
with a colleague from Combodia some years back. He said, though the
country is now free, the people are still under the spell of the Pol
The Christian challenge in these countries to proclaim that there is
freedom; to make them realize that they are now free to smile, talk.
To lead them to a greater joy that is in Christ means that they should
first discover the need to be joyful. My prayer for the younger
generation would be that their eyes will be open to realize the need
to be joyful and later discover that the real joy comes from the Lord.