Gladys Staines in happer times with her entire family in Orissa
Aditi Raja talks to Gladys Staines, in PEOPLE magazine, September 26, 2008
"When a brutal act of violence took her family from her, Gladys Staines decided to forgive her malefactors. How does one ever get over loss of beloved ones? On Jan 22, 1999, a crowd burnt to death her husband, Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines, and their two minor sons, Timothy and Phillip, while they slept in a station wagon at Manoharpur village, Keonjhar dustrict, Orissa. Today, a nurse in a hospital in Queensland, Australia, where she moved in 2004, Gladys puts a stoic face on the past, believing in the power of prayers to heal. The recent violence in Orissa is something she is praying will stop. “ India has been known for tolerance, we must live in harmony, respecting each other.” She says.
After spending over 20 years in India – raising her family in Orissa, India remains an unshakable memory in Gladys’s life. “I miss my Indian friends the most, but I also miss Indian food, the aromas or smells associated with life in India”. On accasions when she gives talks in India, she wears a sari and often cooks Indian food with her 22-year-old daughter, Esther.
Since she left India, Gladys has put her efforts into regaining her nursing registration and conducting lecture tours about the leprosy work being done in Orissa. She visits India often, the plan being to expand the Graham Staines Memorial Hospital in Baripada in Orissa.
Memories of her own tragedy remain fresh, she says. “ I am human with feeling and emotions. There are times when I feel low but not to the point of despairing or giving up”. She decided to forgive the killers immediately, which helped the healing process. There are moments that return, such as a poem Graham liked: “ Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, day after day it is gone…..till youth like a vision is gone…..then until death says NOW”. “ I miss his companionship, love and when there are decisions to make”, she says her grief palpable……”
Loss of a beloved, to death, or to another person, or in any way, is a living pain one continues to live with, forever carrying it in the recesses of the mind. If the death is one, which has been brutal, then, no answers can be found. There is shock, disbelief and anger, which are natural in these circumstances. And in spite of it all, there and then, if one is able to forgive the killers of ones husband and two sons, let me tell you it takes a lot of courage and belief to get to that stage. Recently, we had Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera who took the time off to finally go and meet her father’s, the late Rajiv Gandhi’s killer, in the jail. Why did she do that? Because, until one forgives, there is no closure to the pain one goes through and when one forgives the other, one is able to move on. A Psychological fact that there is a shift in the way we think about ourselves and those who have harmed us. The bitterness is no more and we can really put the past behind us, and move on with our lives.
That is exactly what happened with Gladys. Only thing is that she was able to move on faster and look what she is doing – talking on India, visiting India frequently to work on the Hospital for lepers in the memory of her late husband, Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines. That is something, we can all learn from and use it as an example of a blessed Christian life.
~~~ ~ With hope for a new dawn ~~~~
Other posts by me on the Shameless Hate Tirade against our brothers and sister of Christian faith by fascist Hindu goodas - In Bad Faith
The ugly face of Hindutva movement and Bajrang dal fascists and its extreme intolerance to Christians, Shame! Woe To You, you who destroy the basic tenets of Hinduism – tolerance of all religions.