A Story of Love
In a remote village in Vietnam during the years of war, numerous mortar rounds landed on an orphanage run by a missionary group. The missionaries and one or two children were killed instantly, and several more children were wounded, including an eight-year-old girl.
People from the village requested medical help from a neighbouring town that had radio contact with the nearby American forces. Finally an American doctor and nurse arrived in a jeep, carrying only their medical kits. They established that the girl was the most critically injured and that without quick action she would die of shock and loss of blood. A transfusion was imperative and a donor with a matching blood type was required. A quick test showed that neither American had the correct type, but several of the uninjured orphans did.
The doctor spoke some rudimentary Vietnamese and the nurse, a smattering of high-school French. Using that combination, together with much impromptu sign language, they tried to explain to their frightened young audience that unless they could replace some of the girl’s lost blood, she would certainly die. They then asked if anyone would be willing to give blood to help her.
Their request was met with wide-eyed silence. After several long moments, a small hand slowly and waveringly went up, dropped back down, and went up again. “Oh, thank you,” the nurse said in French. “What is your name?” “Heng,” came the reply.
Heng was quickly laid on a pallet, his arm swabbed with alcohol, and a needle inserted in his vein. Through this ordeal, Heng lay stiff and silent. After a moment, he let out a shuddering sob, quickly covering his face with his free hand.
“Is it hurting, Heng?” the doctor asked. Heng shook his head but after a few moments another sob escaped, and once more he tried to cover up his crying. Again the doctor asked him if the needle hurt, and again Heng shook his head. But now his occasional sobs gave way to steady silent crying, with his eyes tightly shut and his fist in his mouth to stifle his sobs.
The medical team was concerned. Something was obviously very wrong. At this point, a Vietnamese nurse arrived to help. Seeing the little one’s distress, she spoke to him rapidly in his language, listened to his reply and answered him in a soothing voice.
After a moment, the patient stopped crying and looked at the Vietnamese nurse. When she nodded, a look of relief spread over his face.
Glancing up, the nurse said quietly to the Americans, “He thought he was dying. He misunderstood you. He thought you had asked him to give all his blood so the little girl could live.”
“But why then would he be willing to help?” asked the American nurse.
The Vietnamese nurse repeated the question to the little boy, who answered simply, “She is my friend!”
Friendship means when you have a clean, clear understanding with someone – he accepts you for what you are, and you accept him for what he is…. He wants to help you. You want to help him. That is friendship. It is very rare.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Legacy of Love