True Life Story of Murugesh (Part 3)
I knew very well that by arriving suddenly at Hema-akka’s house and demanding surgery immediately I was putting a lot of strain on her. Having no personal wealth to apply to cases like mine she had to find donors, and that can take time. But I also knew that in addition to being an unbelievably kind person she was a person of iron will and the ability to get things done. She said to me “So be it. If you want surgery now, you will have it.” Only God knows how, but she quickly arranged my admission into the St. Philomina Hospital and a date with Dr. Srinivasan. She knew that the nurses at Philomina are very kind, but still she was worried who will look after ‘a mere child’ especially when I suffered pain at night. I would need instant attention. I told her “Do not worry, Amma. I am ready for the worst.” But Akka was thinking ‘what would she have done if I were her son!’ Finally, the way was cleared when she found a lady who had volunteered at the APD School and was willing to help me.
I was in the hospital for one month and Dr. Srinivasan poured on me all his knowledge and skill. I also cooperated fully by bearing the pain without crying or complaining. Hema-amma was very impressed by my fortitude. Major part of the repair work was done and the doctor said I should be taken out of the hospital for a while. The only easily available place Akka could think of for me was APD but it was deserted at night. I told her “Do not worry. I will sleep on one of the benches in the veranda and I am not afraid of darkness, snakes or hooligans. I only need assistance to go to toilet in the morning.” Yet she found a young student to be with me at night and she also made a room available for the two of us to sleep in. But she told me “Murugesh I want you to start going to classes and prepare for 7th grade exam in two years, for I would be 12 then and should be at par with my age group.” Everybody thought Hema-akka was overly confident of my ability but in my mind I had decided to prove her right. And I did.”
I was going through stints of surgery and very painful physio-therapy. But I continued to study hard in order mainly to please akka and show everyone that her trust in me was not ill founded. During these two years I learned to walk, of course, with calipers on my legs and crutches under both arms. In the beginning it was quite painful. But the important thing was that I walked, which made me ecstatic At long, long last I am walking. I thought I was the luckiest of boys; handicapped or normal!
I still used calipers and crutches and hobbled around with difficulty when the time for the 7th grade exam came. Hema-akka told me to take the exam. Nobody thought I would pass. But I wrote the exams with total attention thinking as if my life and my honor depended on it. To everyone’s delight and Hema-amma’s more any anyone else’s I passed. As you can imagine, I was on top of the world. I looked toward the sky and said to God, “Thank you God, thank you more times than I know to count.” God’s face shone in my mind’s eyes and I said to Her, “Amma thank you for your faith and for the encouragement. Without them I could not have passed. All credit goes to you, not me.”
Hema-akka talked to the head of a Christian School and got me admitted in the 8th class so that in 3 years I could clear the high school diploma. A sponsor was found to pay for the hostel and food and I was walking and feeling normal among young men of my age. In this predominantly Christian setting new things began to happen. One of them quite upset Amma. One day she came to visit me and called from a distance, ‘Murugesh.’ Someone told her that I was no longer Murugesh; my new name was Moses because I had been converted to Christianity. Hema-amma was shocked and saddened. She asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me of this conversion? What should I call you?” I told her, “Amma, for you I will be Murugesh as long as I live. I do not understand conversion and how it happened. Forgive me.” I later realized that she did not care if one converted by convincement. What hurt her was the dishonest deviousness of the way it had been done in my case. She said “Those zealots want just the numbers and care not about the spirit of what they do.” To unburden her mind she spoke to her colleagues at APD (many of them Christian). “I respect and honor Christ, but I cannot say the same for the Churchian bigots,” she said.
January 13, 2007