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When we moved from the mountains to the plains with our boys, the only school was the government-run Hindi-medium school. It was a daily 4 km walk to the village. Once they were out of our sight, our boys tended to detour through a neighbour’s guava orchard on the way there and on the way back. We heard complaints later on when it became habitual.
A few hundred children attended the school, and the tiny village road would be filled up with students walking and cycling. Our boys were singled out because their English was good. We helped them learn by speaking English with them. Once in a while the English teacher would take a break and command one of our boys to take the class.
Bhavesh was a very nice boy, very obedient, and very willing. He always did his best. Bhavesh was one of those guys who wouldn’t hurt a fly. One day, his English teacher asked him a question during class. He stood and answered the question in full, fluent English. A dark shadow crossed the face of Sir, the teacher, his eyes glued to Bhavesh in a threatening manner. Bhavesh, alarmed at the rage in his teacher’s eyes, began to wonder what was going on. Had he said something wrong?
Unfortunately, this was a regular occurrence. Sir would ask the class questions, expecting to get wrong answers. He would then be able to show off his English prowess by correcting them. He usually avoided asking our boys questions because they knew the answers. However, on this day, he asked Bhavesh a question. Perhaps it was because Bhavesh was timid, quiet, and shy, that Sir decided he was an easy target.
In this case, Sir was wrong. Very wrong. Bhavesh answering the question properly and fluently isn’t what incensed Sir. What got his goat was that he couldn’t understand Bhavesh’s English. It was better than his.
His voice was raised and blasting like a trumpet, “So, you want to run the class? You want to take the stage and be the show-off? You think you are so smart? I’ll show you what I think about you!”
Sir whirled around and strutted towards the corner of the classroom where he kept his 6 foot long, 3-inch-wide cane. There was no question now for Bhavesh what would happen next. He’d seen him use the cane on others. Bhavesh reacted without a second thought, and in that spilt-second, he ran out the door full speed with Sir only a few meters behind him. Bhavesh raced home, without the guava orchard detour. Bhavesh was terrified. He kept looking over his shoulder to see how much distance separated him from his teacher and it was never enough. Both student and teacher covered those 4 km in record time.
Before Bhavesh could get all the way home, he had to pass the pre-primary school where I was. One of my teachers saw him in the distance racing towards us, about 500 meters away. She ran into my class and said, “Bhavesh’s coming with his teacher hot on his heels and carrying a big stick!”
I ran outside. As soon as I reached the school gate Bhavesh ran in, looking over his shoulder. Panic-stricken, he cried, “Save me! My teacher’s coming!”
Sir arrived waving his cane, puffy and red-faced from the run. Bhavesh immediately jumped behind me, and I spread my arms out to shield him. To no avail, I tried to reason with Sir; and then sent Bhavesh into the shelter of the primary school. I whispered to the other teacher to run for Uncle Yip. She took off across the field toward home.
Yip arrived, and in time was able to calm the teacher. Sir just needed time, and his breath back, in order to think straight, and be able to leave peacefully. And that is what happened. Yip took Bhavesh home, gave him chai and biscuits, calmed his fear, and eventually, everyone had a good laugh.
Ranjit was another one of our boys studying at the same school. When he was young, like the rest of the boys, he just wanted to have a good time. He was not particularly studious, but always showed an interest in working with his hands. He wanted to learn about machines and how things work. And he loved driving the tractor. Ranjit, along with the other boys, walked the 4 km to school.
One day, Ranjit had a seizure. But that wasn’t the end. He continued having so many seizures that we could no longer send him to school, fearing he would hurt himself or end up lying in a ditch, unknown to us. In those days we were very poor. We didn’t have money for expensive medical care, which was greatly needed.
Yip decided to take Ranjit to a good hospital 4 hours away. He’d have to travel by motorcycle. Another boy sat at the back to hold Ranjit on. Only a miracle could have allowed them to go and come back, safely and uneventfully. While at the hospital, Yip explained how we cared for destitute children. He confessed that we didn’t have the funds for MRI or scans or whatever medical treatment would be needed. They gave Ranjit a large concession and we managed to have the tests done.
The outcome? A brain tumour. We had no money for such an expensive operation. Ranjit was a strong kid, but this was an overwhelming challenge. Not only was he having seizures due to a brain tumour, but was already undergoing treatment from us for tuberculosis and leprosy.
On the motorbike home, Ranjit had time to think about his situation. So did Yip, especially when the motorbike ran out of petrol at midnight. The boys walked as Yip pushed the bike 5 km to the nearest village, where it was left. Then they hiked another 5 km back home.
When Yip and I discussed Ranjit’s situation, we couldn’t find an answer. The only thing we could do was to ask God for healing. We just couldn’t see another way out.
We called our 50-plus boys together in the sitting room (which served as the boy’s bedroom), and asked who wanted to pray for Ranjit. Everyone came. We began to pray, anointing him with oil for healing in the name of Jesus. All of us were in different stages of faith; some strong, some weak, some non-existent. But everyone prayed, our voices getting louder as we pleaded for Ranjit. And then we were silent. “Ranjit,” asked Yip, “how do you feel?”
“Fine,” he said. “I’m healed.”
Yip and I looked at each other in question, and then turned back to Ranjit.
“I’m healed,” he said. “I’m not going to take anymore medicines.” For Ranjit, the issue was settled. It was final, and a celebration ensued.
We never forced medicine on him, and he never came for medicine. He never had another check-up, and he never had another seizure. He was fully healed of tuberculosis and leprosy.
It’s now been 40 years, and he has remained in good health. He is a driver and mechanic, working in the mountains. He’s claims God healed him, but will never initiate the story of this miracle. He never talks about it. In Ranjit’s humble way, he doesn’t find it amazing. He’s always taken the whole thing casually, understanding that God, who calls himself Father, would obviously do that for his children. Why would it be extraordinary?
Bhavesh was there when Ranjit was healed and witnessed the love, the mercy and the power of God. Bhavesh became a lay pastor and lives by faith. He hosts meetings in his house, prays for the sick, and seeks out anyone needing help or prayer. His heart is to help, because he loves to serve. He’s seen that God can be trusted.