The Faith Healer.
On November 19th, 1970, in a Navy Hospital in Mumbai, a little baby was born. His weight was normal, but he had a peculiar yellow color. The doctor, an Army Colonel, shook her head and looked at the nurse. "Neo-natal Jaundice. Put him under the Ultra Violet light and let's see if he improves." The prognosis was not great. The boy's father was far away, in distant Delhi, a Squadron Leader at Air Force Headquarters.
Three weeks later, the child was still yellow, sickly, and hadn't gained much weight. His mother, a college graduate, was at her wits end. "Enough of this nonsense," said the boy's grandmother, an uneducated old lady with oodles of common sense. "You're coming with me." She grabbed her daughter's hand and the two of them set off by bus for a distant suburb of Mumbai called Goregaon. When they reached there, the grandmother confidently guided her daughter, who was carrying the infant in her arms, through the narrow lanes of the slum. They stopped outside a small house. The grandmother disappeared behind a small door, leaving her daughter on the street. The daughter took a deep breath and entered the door. A narrow flight of steep stairs greeted her. She went carefully up the stairs, and at the top, stepped over the threshold into a small room. Her mother held a finger to her lips, and asked the daughter to sit down cross-legged on the floor, with the baby in her lap.
A few minutes later, another woman entered the room from a second door. Her clothes were dripping with water, and her wet hair hung loose on her shoulders. Her eyes were half closed, and she did not say a word. She carried a bowl of water in her hand. The daughter looked at her closely, a little afraid.
The woman sat on the floor, in front of the daughter and the child, and placed the bowl of water on the floor between them. She muttered a mantra and took a pair of knitting needles from the folds of her Saree. The water in the bowl was clear. She placed the knitting needles on the baby's forehead, and then placed them in the water. To the daughter's amazement, the water turned yellow. The woman left the room, returned with a fresh bowl of water, and repeated the routine once more, with the same results. She then repeated it a third time. After the third time, she did not return. The daughter looked at her mother, who motioned for her to get up. They left the building the way they had come.
This routine was repeated for the next two days. On the third day, when the needles were dipped in the water for the third time, to the daughter's amazement, the water stayed clear. She looked closely at the child. His skin was clear, and he smiled contentedly up at her. She couldn't contain herself and her body shuddered as she broke down, crying tears of relief. She had had one miscarriage before, and desperately wanted this child to survive. Now it looked like it would. Her mother put her arms gently around the sobbing daughter and pacified her. They left the room quietly. The faith healer was nowhere to be seen.
I was that child.