“Tony, Amar is dead. We found him hanging from a tree in the jungle next to your house.” We were grief-stricken.
Amar had complained about pain in his stomach for months. We had sent him to doctors who had done all kinds of tests. All test results were negative. The pain never seemed to go away and he was struggling. He also visited a “lady” quack in the bazaar who did some kind of massage on him. After a few sessions she told him he wouldn’t get better and he would die soon. She suggested he ended his life himself. He told me one day that he didn’t want to live in such pain all his life.
We prayed a lot for him and tried to encourage him that he would be fine. With all our busy-ness and packing up of our house and our big move, Amar took strain. He withdrew more and more and no-one saw him much. A week before, Jason and Ali bumped into him as they were walking along the road. There was a dark cloud over him. Ali had a bad feeling about it. When they felt nothing they said was getting through to him, she fell at his feet. She begged him to take care of himself and not do anything foolish.
Bhagat standing, Amar sitting
From Post 138: Amar arrived a few months later. He was energetic and outgoing. There wasn’t a bit of shyness in him. He picked up the guitar like it was a long lost friend. He was playing it in no time. Him and Bhagat always worshipped like there was no tomorrow. They learnt English really quickly and were amazing at translating songs into Hindi.
Having these two young boys and others like them in our lives energized Tony. He knew that a big part of his calling was to give everything he had to them. It wasn’t long before they started to look like Tony replicas in the way they passionately played guitar, sang and led worship. It was his dream come true. (Please also see Post 102 for more about Amar.)
Amar loved to worship. We would hear him early in the morning somewhere in the jungle near our house. The Millennium Festival was a highlight for him. He was in his element, singing, dancing and acting in the Christmas play.
We drove to Mussoorie, hardly able to speak. The kids wanted to know what had happened to Amar. We told him he was dead. They had so many questions we couldn’t answer. They loved him so much.
We walked into our house and there were distraught people everywhere. The place was filled with wailing and mourning. Amar’s body was in one of the rooms covered in a plastic bag. There was an awful smell in the air. I took the kids upstairs and the ladies joined us. We were shaking all over and beside ourselves with grief.
The police had been called in. Their insensitivity was beyond belief. Their attitudes added to our sadness. They had insisted that Amar’s own brother and friends take his body down from the tree. They borrowed Jason’s camera and refused to return it. They interrogated the community and added guilt to those who felt they could have been watching him more carefully. It was just awful.
Champa’s family asked for his body to be buried in Solan. A cheap casket was organized and put on the roof of our jeep. Tony, Raman, Jason and others drove there the next day.
When they got back, we had a memorial service for Amar. It was amazing. The room was packed out with people from all over Mussoorie. So many talked about how his joyful personality had blessed them and how he had impacted their lives.
We all knew that while Amar had made a bad decision, he was with Jesus in heaven. I had a dream about him arriving in heaven and Jesus saying to him, “You are welcome my son, but you have come way earlier than I planned.” He had his whole life ahead of him but he chose to end it.
As with all death, there are things for those who are left behind to deal with. We all wondered what would have happened if.. The list was never-ending. It wasn’t long before we realised the meaninglessness of that trail.
What made it worse was, at his memorial service, one of the doctors who had done tests on him said, “I wish he had waited. The results came back a day after he died. He had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It was treatable.”
We never got over the death of Amar. I am welling up as I write about him. There was such potential, such gifting; so much beauty in one young man.
How many of us give up just before the finishing line? Just before there is a break through? How do we know what is just around the corner? It could be what we have been praying about for a long time. The thing we are longing for could be just around the bend.
So sad that Amar missed his good news by one day.