Tuesday, 30 July 2013


I had woken up to the beauty of a Mussoorie morning.

Half an hour later I heard Dad calling me: "phone call for you!"

The call was from home.  My gut tightened a bit.

"Daddy" said Enoch "Mummy is very sick"

I was in Mussoorie.  Sheba was in Thane.  In terrible pain.  With two very sad children.  2500 kms between us.  Ugh.

The previous week Sheba had not been well.  Abdominal pains at different times.  And then it seemed to settle.  Self-medication with paracetemol and prayer.

On the day I left for Delhi I was in an agony of indecision.  I was pale and sleepless myself and felt vertigo and did a bit of puking.  But then a nap after dropping off the kids at school (and having them rush back because it was a 'rain holiday') got me better.   I prayed and made the call to go.  Sheba bravely let me.

The next day she was taken to the hospital by Suma and Rachael from our church.  A quick checkup and some pain meds were prescribed.  All 'normal.'   Sheba has been suffering for the last 2 years from a gall stone and a hydrosalpinx - a distended cyst in the fallopian tube.  Both can cause discomfort - but which one was the culprit this time?  Sheba continued to see patients over the past week and kept her pain private.  And there were also times when it wasn't there.

Friday was one such day. When I talked to Sheba on the phone as I and my friend Danny were on the train to Dehra Dun - Sheba was great.  That evening she went out shopping with the kids and hosted the Bible study in our flat.  A call late at night - just after Danny and I had reached Mussoorie and everything was fine with Sheba.

Everything, that is, till 4 am on Saturday morning.

Then Sheba experienced exrcuricating abdominal pain.  After an hour or so she called Agnes over for a voveron (diclofenac) injection.  Agnes came over and gave it.  No relief.  More agony.  Suma and Rachael came over immediately.   Sheba did not want to call me, since I had just arrived in Mussoorie the night before, but at 8 it was too bad and Enoch gave me the news. 

I talked to Sheba briefly.  It was enough.

Shaken, I put down the receiver and told Mum and Dad.  We prayed.  I checked the internet for flights.  There were a few.  I prayed and saw a 3.40 pm flight from Dehra Dun.  6 PM from Delhi.  ETA 8 PM in Mumbai.  I could be with Sheba by 9.30 PM if all went well.   Price not impossible. Click click.  It was booked.   

I went up and told Mum and Dad that I was going.  We booked a taxi down.  Mum and Dad decided to go with me to spend as much time as possible together.  I explained to Danny.  We cancelled my parts of our train tickets.  He would continue on as we had originally planned.

Mum and Dad and I left the house.  The greenery of a Mussoorie monsoon is breath-taking.

The love that my parents have for each other and for Stefan, Premi and myself and all our other brothers and sisters and virtually everyone on this planet - is as green as their surroundings.

Being with them - even just for a few hours - so worth it.

At 11.30 we were up at Sisters Bazaar.  Then we were winging it down to Dehra Dun and then out towards Rishikesh to the quaintly named 'Jolly Grant Airport' which services Dehra Dun (and Rishikesh and points East).

After our goodbye prayers and kisses - I was ready to leave.  But where was the plane?  Half an hour before the 3.40 pm take-off time, it was nowhere to be seen. 

Then out of the awesome blue and white clouded sky drops a beauty of a plane.

A few minutes later, the few passengers who had come to Dehra Dun via Lucknow got off.  And it was our turn to board.

Looking at this beauty of a plane, I had a huge sense of deja vu - and it was only afterwards that I realised what it was....

The plane was definitely like the millionaire's private jet in the Tintin adventure Flight 714.   Behold!

 A last look at the magnificent sky with the first range of the Himalaya giving us the horizon....

 ... and we were away - off into the clouds.  A hop and a skip and a jump to Delhi.  30 minutes of flight time - gobbling up the 6 hour 'express' train journey I had started exactly 24 hours before.

My prayers were focussed to Sheba.  I had found out that she had been admitted at Bethany hospital and was sleeping.

In Delhi's swank airport, I tapped in a Facebook status update to let people know what was going on.  By evening an avalanche of prayers and wishes were sent our way.

Then a clear shot to Mumbai and I arrived in the rainy night and blurry traffic of Mumbai.

Just before 10 PM I got home.  Sheba had told me on the phone to meet the kids first.  She was doing better and could wait for me.

I rang the bell and was greeted with hugs all around.  Their bestest friends Nikita and Jasper were with them.  John and Nalini had also been pillars of support over that terrible day.   Agnes was just about to give them supper and so we ate and talked.

The great thing about kids is that even in times of tension - they can relax - when they know things are going to be ok.  With Nikita and Jasper there - Asha and Enoch were so happy.  Having 3 hamsters to play with helps:
As does having a friend who is willing to play lego with you: 

Then a goodnight to the kids and over to see Sheba.  Nalini and Rachael were with her.  The kids had been to see Sheba earlier.  Now Nalini was dropped of at our place - and she and John took the kids to their home and to church in Borivali the next day.

I spent the night next to Sheba in the hospital.

She was a peace - but had been through so much in the past 18 hours.   The drips were on and I was given a task to monitor it while Sheba had a blessed sleep.

The ultrasound had shown that the hydrosalpinx had contorted - causing tremendous pain.  By early afternoon - and after much prayer - the pain had subsided.  Sheba said that so many had rallied round her. Rachael was at the home in 10 minutes after Sheba first called Suma.  They were singing and praying with Sheba in the casualty ward - and massaging her when the high-level pain-killers given still didn't bring the desired relief.

As I watched the drip that night, small drops falling through the tube, on the way into Sheba's veins, I had to thank God for what he had done.

For me to wake up in the clear air of Mussoorie - and then to be back with my beloved the very evening was more than a miracle.

For Sheba to have come through her pain and be safe and under control was a blessing.

For us to see just how many people love us and go the second and third and fourth mile for us is overwhelming.

And then we think of the people that we are working with - so many who are just so sick - and have burned their bridges.

A man came two weeks ago to meet Sheba and told her 'even if my sister dies - don't call me - I have nothing to do with her' - that about his own sister who we were looking after at that time in the JSK centre.

How different our lives are.

We are, of course, not fully out of the woods yet.

After spending a night in hospital with Sheba - we were thrilled that she did not have more pain - and so were discharged in the morning - returning to an eerily quiet home (the 3 hamsters were having their normal siesta during the day) as Asha and Enoch were with the Gabriel family.  When they returned in the afternoon - there was so much to be thankful for.

This morning we talked to Dr. Stephen about the next steps.

This is what it looks like.  

Sheba is to be admitted at Bethany Hospital today after 5 PM.

Her surgery is posted for 7 AM on Wednesday morning.  It will be a laproscopic surgery.  Dr. Stephen will first remove the gall bladder.  Then the other surgeon will work on the cyst - probably removing the left ovary as well.  

Sheba should be in the hospital for about 3 days and then another 10 days to recover at home.

Sheba's sister Sarah is on the way - arriving tomorrow from Delhi to be with us for the next 5 days.  

We have been overwhelmed with phone calls, SMSes and offers to help out.  This evening Jolly, Suma and Reneta came over to pray for Sheba - and in their inimitable way brought us a meal too. 

No one likes surgery.  But some things have to be done.  Sheba is so brave about it all. 

And so we step into the next adventure. 

Thanks for being along with us for the journey.  And thanks for the many heart-felt prayers and wishes.



  1. andi brother, we are praying for you and the family. and also our church in thane for such blessed people and an extended family support that we have in them.prayers and wishes from warm copenhagen

  2. Will keep Sheba in prayer, God is with you. Heather