The last week has been a blur for us as we prepared for the dedication of the new Bethany Hospital. But that did not mean that all our friends with HIV suddenly went on holiday from their challenges.
I think back to one of the days. I think it was Wednesday (last week was a blur - as already mentioned).
Here are some of the people that Sheba and the team had the privilege of working with on that day:
One of our old friends - Mr. Oliver Lal came with his daughter. He and his wife have been living with the disease for years. We have tried to encourage them to get their daugther tested many times. They just couldn't get the courage to do so. Now she was sick. It looked like malaria. He wanted her tested. We did. Mr. Lal came back for the result today. Sheba had to tell him that his daughter had also tested HIV positive. Heart-breaking. I sat with him for some time and held his hand. The mist of tears in his eyes.
Mallika came and was amazingly winged off to Ooty. We were able to get a bus ticket for her - and a welcome in Bangalore (thanks to OASIS for both) and then get her picked up by our friends from Freedom Firm who took her too Ooty. Our staff member took her to the bus boarding point in Dadar - with a packed lunch to eat with her. Amazing that she got off and is starting a new life. God is good.
There were so many others who came during the regular hours. Sheba spoke with each one of them. Listening to stories. Understanding. Speaking words that come from our loving Master's mouth.
At the end of the day, the sisters of Mr. Anmol came to talk to Sheba. Mr. Anmol was a successful businessman. A life-long batchelor who lived with his spinster sister. He had retired and was given a big award by the chairman of his company. We have known Mr. Anmol for the last 2 years. He never told his sisters about his HIV status. He also has had a cancer of the neck. He has not shown us the reports from the cancer hospital to date. He refused house visits. Finally he was admitted at a private hospital - and the senior doctor their revealed Mr. Anmol's status to his sisters. They were shocked and horrified. They came to us demanding why we had never told them. Sheba explained that Mr. Anmol was usually accompanied by another relative. Mr. Anmol's sisters disabused us of that - the man was a friend not a relative. Sheba tried to calm Mr. Anmol's sisters as they worked through their feelings of rage and betrayal. No easy answers - especially when lives are spun around half-truths. Mr. Anmol is dying. May his last days at least experience the peace that has eluded him so far.
How do you end a day like this? One way (and we seem to specialise in this) is to collapse into bed and then arise to the challenge of the next. Life pushes on - in fast forward much of the time! Time waits for no one.