Kavita met me as I was leaving the centre.
We talked briefly. She said that her son was having eye problems and that his wheelchair had broken. We smiled and parted.
I went on. She went up.
When Kavita met Sheba, however, the story was a different one.
A surge, a tide of bitterness broke out. Kavita was so angry.
"You all have spoiled my life. I was fine, I was earning, I was ok before you interfered" and on and on.
Kavita included our work with that of a number of others who have been helping out her family over these years.
"You live in your big appartments and we have to keep coming and bowing to you. We have to keep saying we are sorry"
"I have not been helped at all. It has all been a waste of time."
After some time she spoke. She opened Kavita's medical files. Showed her where she had been deathly sick and it was only the intervention by JSK staff that brought her back to life.
Kavita was unmoved. She remained angry and upset.
Over the past years a number of different people have helped Kavita and her three sons. The help has been consistent and caring. The help has come through weak and normal people - who are certainly not perfect. In the last few years the help has been through a local faith community which does have certain standards - ones that Kavita did not want to follow.
She left them over two years ago, but is still angry.
When Sheba told me later about the time with Kavita, my mind went back to the very beginning of our work in Thane. We looked after Kavita's husband as he was dying. In his last days he asked forgiveness from her. I thought back on those early days - to the time when Kavita had tried to commit suicide by consuming poison - while her crippled son prayed to Jesus to save her. Neighbours had broken in and rushed her to the hospital where her stomache was pumped and she was saved. I remember her courageously talking about the incident in our small HIV positive friends support group. She was at peace with it and thanked God for saving her.
The trajectories of our lives take us on some hard paths. We are saddened by the choices Kavita has taken over the past 5 years. Ones that have included moving in with men who are married. It has not been easy to try and help her make good choices - and we can never force a person to make steps on the path to life. We have always tried to reach out to her. Her crippled son is now in his late teens and her other two boys are living with relatives and working in odd jobs. But reaching out is a two-way street.
Kavita walked out of Sheba's consulting room a very sad and defeated woman.
We have no magic remedy. No happy pill that can be popped to make everything better. Each person has real choices. But at least Kavita is still alive. We know of at least 3 times when she was at the edge of death over the last decade. She still stands. And we still have hope for a better life than the bitter one she holds onto now.