Another Raju

Another Raju

One of the things that has continually been on my mind, since returning from India, is a little boy that I got to spend an afternoon with.

It was the day of the AIDS training. Teresa was teaching the adults, and there were a few children running around while their parent, or in this little boy’s case, his grandmother attended the training. All I knew about him to start was that both of his parents were dead, and he was clearly very sick, most probably with AIDS. He was literally skin and bones. I have never in my life seen someone so thin. I honestly don’t know how he could walk, he didn’t appear to have any muscle on his little body. He had the sweetest face, and the calmest spirit. He was quiet and didn’t seem the type to complain. I sat there on a small curb with him, wondering what his story was. As I sat next to him with my arm around him, wanting to give him some affection, and at the same time being afraid I would break him, another young girl came up to sit by us.

She seemed older, told me her name was Soapna. She was beautiful and healthy, and a complete contrast to this little boy sitting next to me. She was unlike any other child I met there. Instead of vying for my attention herself, she seemed to be interested in how I was interacting with the little boy. I would hold his hand, and then she would hold his hand too. She was carrying her mother’s purse, and in not too much time, she pulled a small banana out of it, and offered it to the boy.

At this point in the trip, I was so used to children who only spoke a small amount of English. The little boy next to me, didn’t even seem to speak enough to understand when I was asking him his name. I had gone through the basics with Soapna, but it took me by surprise how much English she actually knew, and spoke it very well. After a little while, she took it upon herself to start asking this little boy questions, and telling me all about him. His name, ironically was Raju. Both his parents, were as I had heard, dead, and he was there with his grandmother. He was in 4th class (grade).

I was in awe of this little girl’s compassion, and desire to mimic my interaction with Raju, and care for him too. We sat there on this curb, and Raju pointed to some freckles on my arm, so I explained that it was a freckle, then tried to find one on him, and luckily was successful. Soapna joined in, and it became a game to find all their freckles, point to them and say “freckle”.

It was the most amazing afternoon. Interacting with these two kids, who were in such stark contrast to each other in so many ways. I believe with all my heart that Soapna is the hope for India. She is growing into an amazing young woman, and God’s fingerprints are all over her. I do not doubt that he will be using her to show compassion to many in the area. I’m grateful that she has two parents, who were both willing to come attend an AIDS training. I’m grateful that she’s growing up with some of that knowledge herself, and has the chance to overcome some of the odds, and not only overcome them, but shower compassion on others who need it.

Here is a picture of us from that afternoon.

soapna-raju