After the evening prayers , a sudden ring of the telephone in the West side Chapel echoed loudly and made everyone's heart skip a beat, as they waited for Mother Superior to answer it. In normal times, when praying, the phone in the vestry was kept off the hook, but now because of the present extraordinary circumstances, it was not. It was a call from the hospital and Mother Superior, unusual for her turned her face towards the wall. Only when she took out her handkerchief from her pocket, more often, did the Sisters realized that there was some very bad news. Mother Superior did well to hide her tears which welled and nodded silently in agreement as she listened to the caller. There was an eerie silence as the Sisters waited with bated breath for her to finish her talk, so they could know the latest condition of their fifteen year old Hannah.
Hannah was an orphan, left on the steps at the orphanage as a day old baby. It was the image of her, sleeping soundly with a smile so innocent and angelic and with the deepest of dimples that made her the favorite amongst the Sisters in the convent.
After the telephone call, Mother Superior told the Sisters the shattering news, "Hannah's condition had further deteriorated, and the hospital authorities are waiting for my written consent for an emergency operation, to save her life."
"Keep an all night prayer vigil," continued Mother Superior, as she took her duffel bag containing a Bible, some money, a water bottle and a first aid kit. Followed by David the school's Jeep driver, she drove to the King Edwards Hospital, a fifteen minute ride. Mother Superior sitting on the back seat of the Jeep, prayed fervently with her head bowed for a miracle. Stepping inside the ICU she could not control her tears as she saw the bloodied and bandaged Hannah, heavily sedated, being taken into the operating room.
Fifteen-year-old Hannah, a strong, athletic, was brutally battered with a hockey stick by two assailants as she tried to save Agnes, the thirteen year old frail physically handicapped girl, the only child of David, the school's Jeep driver, from being molested.
Seeing a nun with tear filled eyes was something a doctor does not come across as both of them are in a profession in which human suffering is a part of their daily life. The lady doctor cautioned that the operation might go on for hours as the internal injuries were very severe, sending Mother Superior into a praying frenzy.
Mother Superior was jolted out of her thoughts as she heard the hurried footsteps of a nurse, who came out, rushing out of the operation room. The nurse was walking fast holding a tray filled with empty bottles and seeing her urgent footsteps feared the worst.
"She is sinking," said the nurse without slowing down. "We need more blood."
Mother Superior with no tears to shed cried her heart out, silently. Never in her life had she cried so much. Having seen poverty and sickness at close quarters and unexpected death among the children, she became immune to such happenings, but Hannah was different. Hannah was close to her and she loved her as one of her own.
Closing her eyes, she prayed, seeking an answer to the question "Why?"
"Why God? Why Hannah of all the people? Oh God, Hannah, was made an orphan for no fault of hers, assaulted for no fault of hers, and now is wavering between life and death, for no fault of hers. Why did this have to happen to her?"
Looking at her watch through blurred red bloodshot eyes, Mother Superior was stunned that it was nearing three in the morning. Had she dozed off? Looking around she found that the duty doctor was sitting alone in her room. Knocking, she hesitatingly stepped in.
"Hannah's operation was a success."
Mother Superior slowly walked out of the lady doctor's room and sat at her usual corner in the waiting room for day to break. The tears refused to flow, having drained out completely. Exhausted, and having lost the spark of life, she contemplated the mysterious plans of the Almighty. Though feeling lonely and forlorn, she never gave up hope and that gave her reason to pray.
"I can only pray and leave the rest to you, Lord. Praying to you is the only thing I can do, to look for an answer. I thank you, Jesus, for saving Hannah from the clutches of death."
And she went looking for a telephone to tell the good news.
Victor Jasti lives in India and is passionate about writing short stories based on the Bible and real incidents. He also writes Christian fiction and poetry. Five of his poems were published in Temporal Currents compiled by an American author, Ms. Christine Tricarico.
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