Thursday, 4 April 2013

44 redux

Today another one of us has turned 44.   Another mirror age.  And on 4.4 no less!

My darling Sheba.

Born 4th of April 1969 at the Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela, Odisha to Savari Rajan and Krupa Star Rajan.

Somewhere in her first year of life she looked like this:

Amma and Appa met in Rourkela.  Both were worshipping at the Bethany Christian Fellowship.  A marriage made in heaven and arranged on earth by the senior elder Bro John V. Rao.   30 years later the same man would marry Sheba and myself in the same church fellowship!

Appa had up come to the jungles of Orissa (as the state was then called) from his native Tamil Nadu - like many others looking for work at the then brand-new steel plant.   Soon after he arrived, Appa put his faith in Christ.    Amma's parents were from Andhra Pradesh and she also got a job as a stenographer in the new steel plant.   When they were married Appa did not know Telegu, nor did Amma her new husband's native tongue of Tamil.  Hindi and love were the languages that they spoke - and eventually both learned each other's language.  Four children were born in the space of 5 years.   Sheba's home was completed by her beloved grandmother 'Appi'.

Sheba thus grew up in a South Indian home - in North India - and to this day the family speaks Hindi as their 'home language'.   When Sheba was 11 she was attending the Carmel Convent in Rourkela - where Appa had managed to admit both her elder sister Daisy and younger sister Sarah.   Youngest brother Peter was in the neighbour school - St. Paul's.  had come up from Chennai - and Amma

In 1980 Sheba turned 11.   We couldn't find a 11 year old pic of Sheba, so here is one when she was in pre-school.

Rourkela days were both idyllic and hard.  Amma and Appa worked hard and participated whole-heartedly in the local church.   Sheba and her siblings were part of all the meetings - and were also immersing themselves in the world of books.   Most of Sheba's friends were also studious - becoming an engineer was the main hope and goal of parents and students alike.  The leafy streets of the steel company quarters had cycle rickshaws taking small children to school and older children walking and cycling to tuitions.

The 4 Rajan siblings and their beloved Appi were snapped one fine day during these years:

1991 saw Sheba as a 22 year old, well into her medical school at Cuttack.

Appa had decreed medicine instead of engineering - and his obedient daughter Sheba took up the challenge, starting her MBBS at SCB Medical College in Cuttack in 1988. 
During her years at med school, Sheba was exposed to the Evangelical Medical Fellowship of India and challenged to work as a missionary doctor in the North.

Acting on good advice she joined the Christian Fellowship Hospital in Oddanchataram, Tamil Nadu for a 5 year stint where she was also able to do a Dip. N.B.E. in Family Medicine.

"ODC' as her hospital is often called opened up a whole new world of relationships and challenges - and Sheba carries precious memories of her time there with her to this day.

Nearing the end of her ODC years she was challenged to join the Emmanuel Hospital Association and went on a recce trip to help out in Utraula and Robertsganj.   In 1999 she joined the Champa Christian Hospital, in what is now Chhatisgarh, heading up the community health and development programme there.

That is where I met her in early May... and the rest is history... or herstory at least.

Like me, Sheba celebrated her 33rd birthday in April 2002 here in Mumbai.   The photo above was from a visit to Vellore in 2001, but the smiles lasted all year!

Fast forward to 2013.  How do we capture the last 11 years?  Lets just say that today Sheba has put in over a decade of love and care to countless families living with HIV.  I am blessed day in and out with Sheba as a kind and loyal friend - a woman with a deep heart and level head.  A fellow-worker in the vineyard and one who provokes me to love and good deeds.  A woman who drinks deep from the Word of God and who prays intensely and privately. A wonderful mother and all round special child of God.

Happy 44th dear!  And may we have many more together!

 Cake decorated by Asha Eicher - the next generation arises!


  1. Lovely write and Happy birthday my dear friend.

  2. Thanks for sharing the journey. It is inspiring for me, and many more I am sure. Great job Andy painting the picture in BW and in color