A story of faith
I often write about how I was brought up in a family that believed in one God. This is a tale from the family repertoire which sheds light on where the roots of that upbringing comes from [ Day 29 of #OneDayOneBlog ]
Once upon a time, there was a husband and wife, with 2 children. The year was 1987. The husband fell very ill.
The family lived in Middle East. A kind doctor who diagnosed the disease, advised the family that the best care for this was available in Germany. So the young wife left her two small children in her parents’ care and went with her husband to Germany.
The only foreign language they knew was English. But once they landed in the hospital they realized that even the smartest doctors there could barely converse in English. They were grateful for an Indian nurse and her family they met with at the hospital, who helped them in the initial days.
Now from the hospital where they had the support of these new friends the husband was shifted to another facility.
This was a very large hospital built prior to world war II. In those days it was both a convent and hospital run by the nuns.
This beautiful historic building was set in the most idyllic location. The hospital was surrounded by a well landscaped area for the patients to recuperate in. Just behind this hospital, there was a beautiful forest.
During the days, when the husband would be taken in for multiple tests, or when the husband was taking rest, the wife would go out and explore these places.
Every day she would walk a little further into the forest. There was a man-made path. With the aide of hand gestures, the kind and helpful support staff had assured her that it was perfectly safe.
But for some reason, almost no other person who was part of the hospital community visited this forest. At least, never at the same time as the wife.
Now I need to tell you a little bit about the wife. She was only in her late twenties. She got married soon after school ( yes, school). She first stepped outside her home state in India, when she moved to the middle east with her husband. She had two kids. The people in her social circle were her relatives and friends from her hometown.
She was born and brought up in a conservative Hindu household.The kind of ancient families who had their private temple and an abundance of superstitions.
To say that she led a sheltered life would be an understatement. What little English she knew was picked up in an effort to teach her children their lessons.
This trip to Germany was truly an adventure for the wife. And perhaps she would have enjoyed it if her husband was not so ill. The limited information she received (or rather understood) was adding to her confusion and stress.
Before long the day of the surgery came. The wife was a firm believer of Lord Krishnan. The night before the surgery she hardly slept. She prayed all night for husband’s health. While he was in surgery, she prayed for God to be with her husband and to take care of him.
The surgery was completed and the doctors came out. With evocative gestures they conveyed that her husband was fine.
The husband had undergone a heart bypass surgery. While this is a relatively common procedure now, thirty years ago, medicine was not so advanced. Chances of complications post the surgery were high. Recovery from the surgery was going to be painful. The wounds have to start healing at a particular rate , else it would be very painful for the husband.
Day 1 got over. Day 2 and 3 came and went. Day 4, evening — the doctors called the young wife and told her that the healing was not progressing the way it should. If things didn’t proceed as they hoped they may need to do some further procedures which would be incredibly painful for the husband. They would wait till Day 6 morning to make a decision.
The wife stood outside the room. She was not even sure if she had understood everything right. She just knew it was not good and that her husband was in a lot of pain. And it was going to get worse. She put on a brave face for her husband and assured him that all was well. He probably did not guess her state of mind given the effect of pain medications he was under.
When her husband had again drifted off to a drug induced sleep, she went out. She walked. She did not know what to do or whom to ask for help. What help? The best doctors in the world were trying to help her husband. The frustration and helplessness of seeing your loved one in pain and realizing that there is absolutely nothing that you can do to help, brings its own kind of torture to the one who can only stand aside and watch.
She continued walking in a numb state. After a while she realized that she had walked farther into the forest that she had ever gone before. It was a pleasant summer and hence the walkway was well lit. There was something comforting, standing in the middle of the forest, as though embraced and protected by nature.
As she looked around something caught her attention. Something white and solid. She moved closer to get a better look.
Under a canopy of leaves, beside an old tree she found a 6 foot statue of Mother Mary. The peace and love that radiated from the face of the Virgin Mother called out to her.
Over the years,whenever she recollected the story she could not remember walking up to the statue or sitting next to it. But that’s how she found herself many hours later. As it had grown quite dark she got up and quickly made her way back to her husband. The next day she again came back to the same spot.
But this time she had managed to procure some candles from the hospital gift shop. She came and lit them near the statue. She sat and prayed for a small miracle to happen. For her husband to heal. To save him from more pain. She prayed with a devotion that only those innocent of heart can muster. She truly believed that she was in the presence of the divine and prayed late into the evening.
When she had no more tears to shed and no more invocations to offer, she went back to her husband.
Day 6 arrived as a crisp and clear morning. The wife woke up from her sleep. She was pleasantly surprised that she had slept so well. She woke up feeling something akin to hope in her heart.
The doctors and nurses came. She was asked to leave the room while they examined the husband. Half an hour later, the doctor and the nurses came out and called to her. Other than a few words like “Very good”, and “improvement” she could not make out much as usual. The wife had the look of someone who was scared to believe a good news. The senior doctor who had always looked at the young wife with fondness reached out to her and embraced her in a big hug. He smiled and patted her on her back.
The young wife knew her husband was getting better.
The young wife was my Mom and the patient, Dad.
A few years after his surgery, Dad and Mom took us to Germany for a holiday. We visited the hospital where he received his treatment. We met with the kind nurses who helped Dad in those days. Many of them remembered my Mom and told us stories of her; we could piece together an image of a scared and lonely Mom.
With their permission, Mom took us to see her Mother Mary. The bushes and vines she had cleared away had once again grown back. But we could see remnants of the candles she had lighted there.
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Friends, this is the Day 29 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog”
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