It was winter and we were waiting to experience the first snowfall. Our friends had told us all about it. We were excited to see Mussoorie covered in white. By early October we were already freezing cold. The “bukhari-wala” came and installed a round steel pot-bellied oven in our lounge, called a bukhari. Electric heaters were out of the question with our fluctuating electricity supply. He bashed a hole in our wall for the chimney and filled in the gaps with cardboard and plywood. We filled the back of our jeep with chopped wood from the bazaar and put it in our stairwell. The clothesline from our first monsoon was still on the ceiling and there were clothes hanging all over it. The bukhari heated up the lounge but the rest of the house stayed ice cold. The thin steel got so hot that it glowed red which made us feel even warmer.
I really wasn’t prepared for how cold it got. Our cold marble floors didn’t help. A few weeks into winter I got chilblains in my toes. They swelled up to twice their size and they were a very pretty purplish-pink; like small pork sausages. My socks were too tight so I had to wear Tony’s big rugby socks. I couldn’t wear my shoes either so I hobbled around in Tony’s sandals. It was so painful. When the sun came out I sat on the roof hoping to thaw them out.
One freezing cold night Tony and I were invited to someone’s house for a meal. For some reason our house was full of people. Some were spending the night with us on their way out of Mussoorie and others were there to say goodbye to them. There were bodies everywhere. The bukhari was firing bright keeping everyone warm in the lounge. As we walked into our carport we noticed a young Nepali boy huddled in the corner, right near the jeep. He had a thin shawl covering his head and that was it. He was shivering cold. We couldn’t understand what he was saying but he made it clear he didn’t want money or food. He wanted a job. We asked him if he would like to go upstairs and he said no.
We had a lovely meal and drove back home. He was still there. We insisted that he come inside to get something to eat. He was shy but happy to be in a warm room with lots of friendly people. He heard stories about Jesus from different people who could speak his language. There was no space for him to sleep in the house so we gave him some blankets and he spent the night in the stairwell.
The next day was Sunday and he wanted to come to the meeting. He sat and watched, convinced that everyone was worshipping the overhead projector. He also thought Tony was the guru because he was leading the worship and people were facing him. Chandra had a long chat with him and he said he wanted to give his life to Jesus.
Aman had lost his brother in Nepal. Someone had told him he was working as a labourer in Mussoorie and he had come to find him. He had walked many kilometres. He didn’t find his brother but he found shelter under the right house and his life was forever changed.