Thursday, 19 April 2012


Nalini is a woman dying at the JSK Community Care Centre.  She has been dying for some time now.  But yet she clings on to the slender thread of life.

Nalini was admitted 2.5 weeks ago.  She was found to have severe neurological involvement.  An infection of the brain has led to lesions which are basically incurable.  The medical literature talks about a 8% recovery rate.  The rest die within weeks ... or months.

When she was admitted, Nalini could not sit up.  Her control over basic functions was loosening.

At one point she lost control over her swallowing muscles.  We had to intubate her and have been feeding her through a nasal tube.

Last week we thought her end had come.  Sheba had gone over to see Nalini on a Saturday morning.  She came back saying that Nalini was gasping.  The low laboured breathing many people have just before they die.  She was incontinent.  Her arms were splayed out in an involuntary way - signs of the end.

Nalini's condition is heart-breaking.

All the more so when we see the love that her family is pouring on her.  Nalini was born in Assam.  Her family speaks Bhojpuri and has links to Bihar and eastern UP.  Her sister and her sister's husband have come from their village to help look after her.  At any time our centre has 3-5 people from the family - talking to Nalini, massaging her legs, helping her out. In the morning prayers we are joined by Nalini's sister Laxmi and her husband.  He wears a dhoti and looks like he has just stepped out of his farm.  Which he has.

Laxmi is a person who I have long heard about but have met for the first time now.

She is an unchurched follower of Jesus.

Laxmi has been to the Yeshu Mahasabha that takes place near Allahabad.  She has believed Jesus.  She knows very little about him, but has put her full trust in him.  She says confidently that he answers all her prayers - and that her sister will walk again.

Laxmi's faith humbles me.  It makes me wonder how much I believe.  How much I relegate the Jesus who brought back people from the dead - to the past.

What does it mean to believe?  How should we pray?

When Sheba told me that Nalini was fading my heart sank.  For Nalini - and her precious life - and also from Laxmi and all the family who are so happy that Nalini is being cared for here.  For the love and prayers that we are all able to give Nalini.

When Sheba came back from her afternoon rounds she had a queer look on her face.

I thought it was the end.

It wasn't.

Nalini lives.  She had improved a bit.  Her breathing was no longer the laboured breaths - her hands were back to how they were before.

The next day and the day after - marginal improvements.

On Monday afternoon Laxmi told Sheba that Nalini wanted to eat.  Sheba said that Nalini had lost her power to chew - but was willing to have her eat orally if she would do so in Sheba's presence.  Nalini tried to eat a bit of banana that Sheba put in her mouth - but did not seem to be able to.

Later in the afternoon Nalini pulled out the NG tube herself.  Her family members fed her some biscuits under the supervision of a nurse.  She ate them. Some time afterwards Nalini drank a mango milkshake.

'We have put her fully in Jesus' hands' say Laxmi and the other family members.  Nalini's husband - who recently found out that he too - as a 50 year old man - has HIV - show a faith that humbles.

How do we trust?  As little children.

What a great honour for us to serve saints like these.

Nalini is dying.  And yet she lives.


  1. Love love love this! Thank you for posting!

  2. How is she doing this week?
    I wish I had the faith of that precious family.

    1. By God's grace Nalini is still alive. It is now over 3 weeks since she has come to be with us. She is back on the nasal tube since she really is not able to swallow due to the neural involvement. She cannot speak much but her eyes show that her brain is alert.

      The family is going through a rougher time. One of her nephews had a motorcycle accident yesterday so he is in a govt. hospital with a fracture. The strain of caring is telling. Keep praying for new strength for all of us - for Nalini, for her family, for the JSK team as caregivers