The memory I am about to narrate came to me out of the blue as I was making my way back home this evening. It took me back a couple of years – 2007 maybe 2008, I’m not too sure. I remember sitting on board a tiny little bus, my friends and I making our way down a narrow dirt road towards the Bible College we were going to be staying at for the next ten days. We were in a little village on the outskirts of Secunderabad, India – to work with the local kids and minister to their families.
I was with a group of people I had travelled with often, we had the most amazing experiences working together in villages, volunteering at rehabilitation centres, teaching children in prisons – and each experience left us more and more enriched.
That afternoon as we sang and laughed and listened to our South Indian friends rattling off random words in Telugu just so that they could have the pleasure of hearing us mispronounce them, I noticed that our driver had a little boy seated beside him. The dreamy eye lad all of four or five years old was so amused by us city folk. Every time he heard us laughing, he laughed. He clapped along to our songs, smiled from ear to ear while we screamed at each other and watched us intently as we shared stories, probably trying to figure out what it was that we were saying.
Over the next ten days I got to know little ‘Dabid’. He was such a sweet fellow and even though he didn’t understand a single word of English and I didn’t know any Telugu – a special friendship was forged. David sat beside me at dinner each evening. He introduced me to all the kittens that a stray had given birth to behind his cottage on the college campus. He brought me biscuits when he saw me making faces when I was served rasam at every single meal. David became my friend. His parents kept in touch with me for a couple of years. They sent me photographs and little notes with David’s messages when he began attending a local school. Through those letters and photographs, (all of which I still have tucked away in the bottom shelf of my cupboard back home in India) I watched David grow. I prayed for David whenever I remembered to. I wished him well. I wondered if I’d ever be able to meet him again.
But time passed, life happened, the letters stopped and I never went back to Secunderabad.
I wonder where David is today. I wonder if he finished school. I wonder what he turned out like. I wonder if he had the kind of opportunities kids like him deserve.
I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to meet people all over India and the chances I’ve had to volunteer and work closely with them. But the worst part of it all is that they remain memories, locked away, relegated to the recesses of my mind only to be brought back suddenly – when I least expect them.
We had an amazing ten days working with the villagers in Secunderabad that year. Street plays, home visits, children’s programmes, puppet shows…the works! I met so many families, so many precious children and so many wonderful people who showed me what contentment really means – being happy when you have nothing – absolutely nothing. But of them all, I remember little David most fondly and I hope and pray things turned out right for him.