Santaram was Bhimla’s husband. Bhimla, the drama queen, had helped us with cooking and cleaning in Dhobi Ghat, Mussoorie. There were many dramatic scenarios of fainting and hyperventilation in our lounge. She was quite hefty and I was always relieved when Tony was around to catch her when she fell. She always timed it well so she didn’t ever get hurt. Tony learnt to not get hurt. Her antics inevitably ended with her one eye peeping out to make sure we were ALL there and watching. Our kids weren’t always able to control their giggles.
Santaram had lost all his domestic jobs and his confidence. Bhimla had enough and kicked him out of the house. He had become a drunkard and spent a lot of his time on the roads of Mussoorie. We really liked him and were sad to hear how bad his life had become. One day Raman found him in a drunken stupor and asked us if we could help. We decided to take him on as a cook and housekeeper in Delhi, knowing we were taking a risk. We also knew that getting him out of his situation in Mussoorie would be good for him.
When he arrived, we spelt it out. Absolute honesty, NO drinking on our property and if he arrived at work drunk even once, there would be no warnings, he would be on the bus back to Mussoorie that same day. He knew us and he knew we were serious. He knew it was the last chance to make something of his life; for himself and his family. He also knew we loved him.
He did incredibly well. He stopped drinking and became part of the CNC family. Within months his life was transformed. He was so happy, he didn’t ever want to go back to Mussoorie. Queen Bhimla was fine with that. She was just happy he was alive and thriving.
We all went on a 21 day fast and Santaram joined us. The community met together to pray each night and he made soup for everyone in the evenings. He didn’t miss a meeting. Towards the end of the 21 days, he shared his testimony about how Jesus had saved him and changed his life.
On the last night, before the meeting, we got a call from Josh telling us that Santaram had some kind of fit in the market. Tony, Arun and Josh took him to hospital where they suspected TB. Further investigations showed that he had a tape worm infestation, which had affected his brain. He was declared “brain dead”. He was on life support for 2 days but there were no signs of improvement. We put him in an ambulance to get him to his family in Mussoorie, but he died on the way. We were devastated. His sons came to Delhi to collect the few things he had. They expressed how grateful they were to the CNC community for being family to him.
We were so grateful for his life. We were also grateful and amazed that he had died a spiritually healthy, happy man. Transformed by grace and unconditional love.
Then, along came Lata….