The Sickness that Heals
“What are you cooking, mom? It smells gross!”, I heard my brother, Kok, asking.
“It’s some herbs from the Chinese medical hall. It’s suppose to lift the fever off your sister,” my mom’s voice was barely audible through the wooden walls.
I’ve not gone to school for four straight days now. Heat permeated my body, interspersed with sudden cold chills. My mother, who never went to a western-trained doctor in her entire life was not about to trust mine with what she deemed “boogie medicine.” Since I came down with fever, I’ve been treated to a whole range of my mom’s arsenal of self-medication. Barley drink to balance the yin and yang (I must have too much yang, hence the intense heat), green mold-like poultice that she plastered all over my upper body to draw out any toxins and her infamous “catch the fire-dragon” back rub. I dreaded the rub, more like threshing the life out of me, with her fingers digging into my back to catch the spine and then she would pull it outwards to supposedly release the heat. Perspiration would pour forth and with that, usually, the fever would subside but not in my case, the fever returned as soon as the perspiration dried off.
As my mom frantically tried to heal me, my condition worsened with each passing day. Still, she cooked the Chinese herbs faithfully and coaxed me into drinking the bitter concoction.
“You’ll feel better. The Chinese sinseh promised me that,” I could feel my mom’s voice sagging with inner doubt after the ninth day.
Nine days in bed, facing the window looking out into my backyard of sugar cane and mango trees. Even the dancing leaves couldn’t lift my spirit up. I had grown too weak to even walk myself to the bathroom. The smell of Chinese medication wrapped around me like a soiled blanket and I felt like I might slip away any time. During this time, my brain did a lot of thinking. I thought about life and death and all kinds of what ifs.
What if what my classmate told me was true? One by one of my classmates had embraced this foreign God, one named Jesus, who can take away the sins of this world.
I watched with quiet indignation as this “religion” claimed one friend after another, leaving me outside the realm. Not that they didn’t try to recruit me, they tried too hard, I think. I was not about to fall into this “herd instinct” mentality plaguing most adolescents. See, I’m not a wussie and no amount of peer acceptance can force me to leave my Buddhist upbringing. In my stoic phlegmatic way, I patted myself for being strong enough to stand up to mind-finagling, not like these bunch of sheep.
Because of my hard-core resistance, God in His wisdom had already cooked up a remedy while my mom was brewing hers.
Brought to the brink of utter hopelessness, I looked out the window and struck a bargain with God.
“God, if you’re really who my friends tell me, then heal me. If I can go outside and enjoy the sunshine again, I…..I’ll make an effort to find you.”
As in a movie, as in a novel when everything come to a good resolution, so did mine, except that it’s not cooked up in a plot to bring the story to a happy ending. God planned it and brought it to fruition. He’s the master chef who knows just how to serve me my just dessert.
After I recovered enough to go back to school, I had to swallow my pride and inquire after this God that I’ve spurned all along. My friends couldn’t believe my change of mind and neither could I.
I prayed to receive Christ under a guava tree, a distance from my house, so my parents wouldn’t know. I became a secret Christian until my brother blew my cover but that would require another Faithwriters’ prompt to tell.
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