Thursday, 20 December 2007

Nunc dimittis

There are tears tonight.

Tears of sorrow. The wail and grief of a father who has lost his son, a mother who lost her boy, a wife who is now a widow.

Mr. Babulnath died at 11 AM this morning.

We got a call from the AIDS hospice where we had finally sent him on Saturday.

He had been there for 5 days.

His body was cremated this afternoon.

Daniel and Sanjeev - our staff were there with Babulnath's father, wife and brother. A small knot of people in a big city that continued to grind its way through another day.

Mr. Babulnath was a small, slight - and mostly sad man.

Our experiences with him were mainly on the sad side. We met him two years ago when he came for ART medications. His HIV was kicking in and his immunity was low, so we wanted to start him on medications. In the meantime he also got tuberculosis. And lost his job. And lost his place of staying - the workshop he had been working at.

Glimpses of Babulnath come to mind - his miserable life in a shanty shack after being sacked, his loving mother and father who poured themselves into their son, his going back to the village to tell his wife about his true status. Glimpses of hope are mingled with the sorrow - his coming back from the village with his wife having testing negative - and going straight to the goverment ART centre to get his medicines. His fiercely hopeful wife who cared for him - and their sons. His getting a room on rent - thanks to a church family - and his returning to work. But then the sickness and depression kicking in - and the gradual decline over the last few months.

The last few weeks were horrible.

His landlord kept calling up and telling him to leave - loudly abusing him for being sick and saying that she did not want them there and that the family should get lost. We talked with the woman so many times but whenever a son came to visit it was the same story - shouting and chaos. Finally it was too much - Babulnath had been under a constant fever for a month and was not responding to any of the medications - and the home situation was too horrible - so we referred him to a hospice run by an order of Catholic sisters.

But through all this suffering there were also glimpses of hope. Though he was usually very sad - and often depressed - Mr. Babulnath believed in Jesus - and was confident of where he was going. His son started at our child care centre and has just blossomed. His wife has shown her self to be a remarkable woman - full of life and determination. And we did have many opportunities to talk, pray, listen, sing and just be with Babulnath.

When Simeon saw the eight-day old Jesus he said: "Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace: your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people; A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."

We do not know what Mr. Babulnath's last words were when he died in the presence of his wife. But we do know one thing. This life of suffering is over. He is delighting in the presence of his loving Lord.

I look forward to seeing him in glory.

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