Every morning at 6:00 am he started his daily beat. He walked the same route, took the same shortcuts, greeted the same people with the same greetings.
His daily routine hardly ever changed, but what did change was how his day went. On a good day, he would deliver a letter bearing good news.
He brought news of the birth of a grandchild, or a promotion, or the long-awaited return of a soldier from war. On these days, he was invited inside for a cup of tea and some biscuits. He was thanked and blessed repeatedly for his valuable and faithful service.
Children waiting for the arrival of a toy chased him down the street, and on receiving it, hugged him with all the uninhibited love that children seem to have in abundance.
Those were the good days.
But sometimes life, as is its wont, would change for the worse with absolutely no warning.
I hope this letter finds you well. I must, with no little regret, inform you that I will not be able to send you any money this month. I hope you understand. To maintain a dignified life in the city requires so much expenditure, I simply do not have the money. I will be sure to send you some next month.
All my love and regards,
This was the letter Mr. Postman read to the old widow. This was the third month in a row that her son failed to send her the money. Yet every time he walked down her porch, she came out to greet him with her eyes full of hope. She had long since given up the hope of her son coming to meet her. Now she had to make do with the hope of receiving her monthly allowance.
He had not the heart to tell her that her son was on holiday in France when he posted the letter.
On days such as these, though the news had no connection to him, he felt as if he shared in their grief. He bore the burdens of the entire neighborhood’s troubles on his shoulders. And the news sometimes got worse. Fate often played cruel games, and he was the unfortunate messenger.
A poor, unemployed man was served his eviction notice. He now no longer had a home.
An earnest, hard-working boy received a letter rejecting his scholarship application. He could not attend college.
The soldier who was to return fell on the last day of battle. His wife was a widow at the slender age of eighteen.
Sometimes the recipients bore their grief with grace, sometimes they wept, and sometimes they blamed Mr. Postman. They assailed him, cursed him, wished horrid things upon him. He never protested. He listened in silence and, when they were done, he expressed his condolences, picked up his bag and continued on his beat.
For 20 years, every single day, Mr. Postman brought tidings, whether good or bad, to that neighborhood.
And for 20 years, every morning at 6:00 am, just before he started on his job, Mr. Postman had a question to the clerk at the office to which he received the same answer.
“Any news from my son?”
“No, none today, John. I’m sure there will be some any day now.”
Mr. Postman smiled, nodded in agreement. “Yes, any day now.”
He picked up his bag and went about his work.