Oilseeds and Mustard
by Jasti Victor
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The rainy season started as usual in Sindh, one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Sindh is encircled by the Thar Desert, Kirthar Mountains and by the Arabian Sea and lies between two monsoons; one from the Indian Ocean, and the other from the Himalayan Mountains. The region’s scanty rainfall is rewarded by inundation of Indus River twice a year.
Jason Kaiser is a Christian farmer living from generations peacefully amongst predominantly Muslim brethren. His village, called Begna is in Sindh’s Thatta district. Fatima, Jason’s wife is a very God fearing and a devout Christian and has imbibed that quality to their four children, all daughters, from the fourteen year old Zarine to the youngest, three year old Jasmine. They live in a mud and a brick house, which had been built sixty years back by Jason’s grandfather. As the temperatures often rise above 46 C in summer and fall below 2C in winter the house is built to weather both the extremes.
The rains particularly on July 29, 2010, were so severe that it inundated most of the village and for the first time in his life, entered his house. The flow was so rapid that as they rushed out of the house, the water was upto knee level and when they reached the safe confines of the Government school it was shoulder high.
Wet and shivering, they all sat huddled in a corner. Jason held Jasmine to his chest for warmth as he was worried because her lips were turning blue from the extreme cold. He knew that the frail girl should have an immediate change of clothes for her to survive and he prayed hard the entire night for it. It was dawn when he opened his eyes and saw Fatima starring at him with concern.
“I was praying for some dry clothes for Jasmine.”
“Only a miracle can help us.” said Fatima and exclaimed, “What’s that bright light?”
Looking out, Jason said, “It’s a Jeep.”
A truck followed the Jeep, which stopped in front of the school, and out stepped a frail old woman.
“It’s the Nun,” exclaimed Nazima, a school teacher who was sitting a little distance away, with awe.
“It is Dr. Ruth, Mother Teresa of Pakistan,” whispered the headman of the village, as he suddenly recognized her and getting up, welcomed her.
“I have brought some hot food, milk for the children and dry clothes,” said Ruth in her soft well modulated voice, “If you can send one after another, my team will distribute it as per their needs.”
Ruth Pfau, born in Leipzig was barely seventeen when she risked her life to cross the border from East into West Germany. She walked two days and nights and was spotted by a Russian and a German soldier. She every time recollects that moment.
“The German soldier told the Russian he would deposit me at the detention camp and walked with me a few paces ahead. Then pointing in one direction, he whispered, “There lies the West.”
She became a doctor and joined the Daughters of Heart of Mary order, which was founded during the French revolution. She started her journey to work in India and enroute visa problems forced her to break her journey in Karachi. There she visited a lepers’ colony. The living conditions were dreadful with the sewage waters overflowing. The sewer rats feasted on the limbs of patients who were unable to feel the rat bites. Some were living in caves and crawling like animals. That was in 1960.
Dr.Ruth Pfau’s makeshift clinic soon became a two storied hospital, the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center, with branches all over Pakistan. Now 81 years old, and walking with a stick, she had spent nearly half a century caring for some of the country’s poorest and the most detested people.
Well fed, wearing a blue printed beautiful frock Jasmine smiled and cuddled towards her father.
“Now we only need a house to stay.”
“We’ll pray for it,” said Fatima as she closed her eyes for prayer.
The very next day Dr. Ruth came along with a convoy of trucks loaded with prefabricated houses. In no time the houses were unloaded, assembled and by evening the entire village was accommodated.
Lying on a warm soft bed and starring at the plastic ceiling, Jason said to himself, “Now if we could only have some oilseeds and mustard to plant in our fields.”
And after sometime, he took courage and whispered to himself, “I’ll pray for it.”
The very next day Dr.Ruth came with oilseed and mustard.
Never in his life, was Jason so stunned, that he took courage and walking upto Dr.Ruth, asked her, “Do you talk to God daily?”
Seeing her smile, he said, “I prayed when we were in the school, wet and shivering, for dry clothes. I was afraid that my Jasmine would die of cold if she does not have a change of clothes. The very next day you brought dry clothes and food. We wanted a house and the next day you built one. I prayed for oil seeds and mustard and you give that to me. Doctor Sahib, do you talk to God daily?”
“I am in His service and am His servant,” replied Dr.Ruth softly with a slow smile which spread across her wrinkled face, “The Bible says, “Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”
Seeing Jasmine holding her father’s hand tightly, Dr.Ruth beckoned her.
“What’s your name, child?"
“You have such beautiful hair.”
Jasmine giggled, as Dr. Ruth ruffled her hair and patted her back. Bending down she kissed her and waving at everyone turned and walked away with a slight limp.
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