Monthly Archives: December 2013

Post 179. The miracle of Alia

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Raman and Kiron’s daughter, Alia, was three years old when she started to cry with joint pain.  After a month in hospital and many blood tests, doctors sent her home with the diagnosis that she had rheumatic fever.  She was given Paracetamol for the pain.  A month later, she was covered in little red spots, which started to turn blue.

Raman was on his farm near Haridwar when he got the news.  Alia’s recent blood test showed she had leukaemia.  He rushed back to Delhi and they flew out to Bombay with Alia. Two year old Rohan and six year old Vidur were left with grandma.

Alia’s platelets were dangerously low and she had already started haemorrhaging internally.  There was a chance she might start haemorrhaging in her vital organs.  She was rushed into reverse isolation. Her immunity was so low there was a chance she could pick up an infection.  Chemotherapy was administered immediately.

Raman and Kiron were desperate.  Alia got weaker and weaker.  She lost all her hair.  Her tummy was distended and her legs and arms were like little sticks.  She had so many blood tests that the veins in her arms collapsed.  They started on her legs.  A spinal tap was inserted so they could keep checking the condition of her bone marrow.

The bathroom was where they did all their crying and praying.  They didn’t want Alia to see their helpless state.  It was in the bathroom that Raman heard a small but confident voice. “On the 25th it will be done.”  He was afraid to hold onto it, until his mum came to visit.  When he nervously told her what he had heard, she shouted to her husband, “Tell him. Tell him what I told you.”  God had told granny the same thing.  “On the 25th day, remission will happen.”

Alia’s blood count had dropped.  Doctors were expecting some increase by the 19th day, which would have shown she was in remission.  The 19th day came and went and there was no change.  She was being kept alive on supportive care.  Raman and Kiron memorised all the scriptures they could find on healing.  They walked up and down and around the room praying them out and really taking it on.  Their faith was weak but they knew God wasn’t.  They somehow had to believe against all odds that something was going to happen on the 25th day.

On the morning of the 25th, test results showed Alia’s platelet count had dropped from 62,000-59,000.  Not the steep drop they were expecting.  By the end of the day, it had climbed back up to 62,000.  Remission had begun.  A miracle had taken place.  Raman wanted to shout, “She’s healed!” but there was still some nagging doubt that the remission may not last.

When she was discharged from the hospital, Alia was pale.  She had dark circles around her eyes.  Her hair was all gone.   She couldn’t walk so she tried to crawl.  She had just had her fourth birthday in hospital.

When Kiron walked into their house in Delhi, two-year-old Rohan just sat and stared.  He couldn’t believe his eyes.  When Kiron picked him up, he clung to her like a little monkey.   It had been a difficult three months.

Alia’s treatment was depleting her and Raman and Kiron had some decisions to make.  She was put on oral chemo for another six months.  All through those months they kept hearing, “She’s healed.  She’s healed.”    With their tiny faith in a huge God who had spoken, they took her off all medication.  Alia started to gain strength, put on weight, get her appetite back and colour came back into her cheeks.

Doctors told them to keep watch for the next three to eight years in case there was a relapse.  There wasn’t one.

Alia was fourteen when we first met her.  She came to CNC with the Bartons.  She was small built but strong.  She was healthy.  She was quiet but confident, shy but full of strength.    She was a miracle.  Our lovely miracle.

Post 178. Moses David’s Children of God.

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It seemed that Delhi wasn’t such a bad place after all.  Knowing Raman and Kiron’s friends made all the difference.  They were such fun.  We sat up all hours of the night, eating and talking our heads off.  Jason and Ali, Tony and I and Raman and Kiron took turns going down once a month to meet with them.  They were an interesting bunch and we had some very interesting conversations.

Most of them had been converted into a group called, “The Children of God” or “The Family.”  I remembered meeting groups of them in West Street, Durban in my early teens.  They were the cool, strong-scented hippies who handed out flowers and pamphlets from “Moses David” and told us to “Make Love Not War.”  I wasn’t into making either so I smiled and walked past.

They loved the Bible and had shepherds who would come to their houses to read to them.  They made lots of money that way.  They would also read the sensually illustrated “Mo letters” from their leader “Moses David.”  They believed he still spoke through his letters, even after his death in 1994.

David Berg’s mother was an evangelist during the Jesus Movement.  David lost his way and took thousands with him.  He was an advocate for pedophilia and made a doctrine out of the use of sex to convert people to the community.  They had a ministry called, “Flirty Fishing.”  The most attractive young girls and guys were sent out on evangelism.  Sex was used to make those who were lonely, feel at home in “the family.”  Couples shared each other.  If a spouse was jealous and didn’t want to share their partner, it meant they had issues and needed to change.  Communities were formed and those who joined them were given households to run and children to look after.  Some wondered who their fathers were.

Raman and Kiron and their friends were never in agreement with the “love sharing” practices of the cult.  They only knew they were loved and taught and had a community to belong to. After a year of community living, Kiron started to become uncomfortable with what she was seeing.  It was difficult because they loved studying the Word and sharing it with others.   There was a lot of work to do and everyone did everything.  The kids had jobs in and around the community and weren’t allowed to be lazy.  They were home schooled for fear that those who weren’t part of the community would contaminate them.  Music played a big role and was one of the things that attracted young people to the community. Their weekly visit to Tihar woman’s jail was a highlight.

They believed in spirit guides and the Holy Spirit was believed to be the sexy mother of Jesus. They worshipped love and anything that was done in the name of love was acceptable.  Killing for love was ok too. New converts and disciples weren’t aware of these practices.  There were suspicions but no one really knew except for the main leaders.

So, there were some very interesting times in our conversations.  A big hurdle was that they believed the organised church was the whore of Babylon.  It took them a while to appreciate our community.   When they did leave The Family, all kinds of pressure came their way.

When they saw the huge difference between “Love is God,” and “God is Love,” they made their move.

Love is NOT God.  We don’t worship love.  GOD is love.  We worship HIM.  When we do that, we love.

Post 177. Goodbye Great Grandma.

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Grandma with me

When we asked Grandma why she didn’t have any hair on her legs, she insisted it was because she had worn stockings all her adult life.

The last time we saw her, she was a hundred and four.  One year short of her last breath.  The doctors wondered what she would die of.  Her heart was strong.  Her vital organs were all in perfect condition.

She had grown up on the diamond mines of Kimberly, lived through the great depression and seen the invention of the telephone, aeroplanes and motorcars.

We loved playing with her wrinkled hands and thin greying hair. We would lie across her lap to have our backs tickled with her bent fingers.  She loved to sing.  Our favourites were, “Poor Babes in the Wood” and “Chibbaba, Chibbaba.”  Her voice trembled and shook but her pitch was perfect.

She gave her heart to Jesus and got baptised when she was ninety years old.  The next fifteen years were lived just wanting to be with Him in heaven.

She lived with her only surviving daughter in Johannesburg, but would come to Rolleston Place to stay with us when it got too cold.  David teased her non-stop about having a boyfriend.  Rigby called her Granny Grumps and “Frilly-Brooks.”  She did have some interesting underwear.

Her eyesight started to fail and arthritis got hold of her hands.  In every other way she was still very much alive.   She had an amazing sense of humour. When she started to fall and hurt herself around the house, her daughter put her into an old aged home.  On one of our visits we asked her if she had found a boyfriend yet.  Her reply was, “ Oh there are plenty, I just can’t catch the buggers.”

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Grandma with our girls.

She never used anti-wrinkle cream or foundation.  She ate well and never bothered about how many calories there were in a slice of bread. I never saw her jogging.  She had eleven children and buried ten of them (one baby in a shoe box) one after the other.  She lived to the ripe old age of almost a hundred and five, then fell asleep forever.

My great grandma on dad’s side lived to a hundred and one.  On her hundredth birthday,  a Queen’s representative presented her with a tree to plant in the forest of her choice.  At the ceremony a man started digging the hole.  She grabbed the spade from him and said, “Step aside young man, this is MY tree and I’m going to plant it.”

So much of who we are is genetic; hereditary.  Our mannerisms, personality, way of speaking and our physical make up. That includes how wrinkled we get.  So many hang-ups and addictions are passed down to us from our parents and grandparents.  So are many of our gifts, talents and strengths.

Before we got married, I told Tony about the longevity in my family.  I told him I might be around for a long, LONG time.  He didn’t seem to mind.

I don’t have much hair on my legs.  I have never worn stockings.  Grandma didn’t have any hair on her arms either.

I was always curious about that.

Post 176. Here today, gone tomorrow.

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Another reason we went to Delhi was to have our kid’s teeth worked on.  All of them needed braces at some stage and we found a great orthodontist in Khan Market.  We had appointments every six months so we tried to combine our visits with other things.

The lady orthodontist was lovely.  We always chatted about our families and she was so gentle and kind with all three of our children.  Her daughter and Jordan were the same age so we had that in common.  There was something slightly sad about her, but she was lovely.

Just before Jordan’s last visit, Dr Talwar and her dentist husband were arrested for the brutal murder of their fourteen-year-old daughter Aarushi and their male domestic helper.

We were shocked.  She loved her daughter.  We spoke about her so often.  She was quietly proud of how she was growing up.

How things change.  One minute, a successful orthodontist and the next minute in jail for the murder of your only child.

I cried for her and her husband.  I cried for their loss and their helpless state.  I sent her a card to let her know she was a blessing to our family.  I told her I believed with all my heart that she loved her daughter.  I let her know I was praying for her.

How fickle life is.  How fleeting.  Like grass in the field.  Like flowers in a garden.  Here today gone tomorrow.

How vital it is that we have a Rock to stand on.  Sand just doesn’t work.

Post 175. Who would want to live in Delhi??

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1998.

Delhi was not a place we wanted to hang out in.  We only went there when we absolutely HAD to and left as soon as we possibly could.  It was hustly and bustly.  We didn’t know anyone there, so we stayed in some cheap, awful, mosquito infested places. 

There were a few reasons for going to Delhi.   At times we couldn’t draw money from our bank in Mussoorie.  Tony would leave home early in the morning, drive 8 hours to Delhi, get money and drive back late at night.  Other times, we picked up visitors and family members, spent the night and then drove back to Mussoorie.  On occasions, we drove through the city to go somewhere else.

On Betty’s first visit, we drove down to pick her up and stayed in the YWCA.  It was cheaper to get rooms with a shared community bathroom so we got two rooms. Betty knew there was something about Indians bathing with jugs and buckets and not using toilet paper but she was too shy to ask.  In the middle of the night, she got confused with the bathroom and the Eastern toilet. We were in hysterics when she asked some questions about it the next morning.

The two places we knew had good food were Nirulas and the Wimpy in Connaught Place.  It was such a treat to have Western style food like salads, burgers, French fries and yummy ice cream.  If we had spare time we would do some shopping in Janpath which made the whole trip worthwhile. 

Winter on Delhi roads was a nightmare.  Whenever we travelled, we tried to leave as early as possible to avoid village traffic.  There were a few times we forgot about the heavy winter fog.  It was so bad, not even the truck drivers were brave enough to take the lead.  Visibility went as far as our windshield.  Everyone edged their way forward inch by inch, not being able to see the road at all. When the fog lifted for a few seconds, we would find ourselves all over the road, facing in different directions.

Our biggest nightmare trip in fog was in the middle of winter.  We were going to Delhi from Mussoorie.  We got up very early, not giving a thought to how misty it would be.  Tony took the shortcut through Barlowganj and Jharipani.  We couldn’t see a thing.

I started to panic and told Tony we should go back.  He calmed me down and told me to just keep my eye on the side of the mountain.  He would keep his eye on the edge.  We were driving very slowly.  The kids were still sleepy, but tried to help us stay on the road.  For a second I lost sight of the mountain and I shouted, “Stop!!!”  Tony slammed on brakes and we all sat in the mist, wondering where we were.  Tony put his head out of the window and saw grass.  Our jeep was perched on the edge.  We were about to go over, headlights first.

We sat there shaking.  My heart was pounding and I had had enough of Delhi already.  We were five minutes from our house and had 290 kilometres to go.   I was ready to go home.

Delhi was dusty, foggy, noisy and unfriendly.  There was NO WAY we ever wanted to live there.