The Story of a Cure, May 9, 1996
This evening, I had a good chat with Sukh Deo as we drank yaqona together. Sukh Deo is Hindu, but his wife and children are Catholic. They live in an interior settlement, far from town. He is always pleased when a priest visits the family, and he sits respectfully and meditatively during the prayers. As we chatted about old times, he was reminded of an unusual cure that took place in his village when he was a boy. At that time, there were very few doctors, transport was difficult and money hard to come by.
It happened that one day his uncle was very tired and yawned so much that his jaws locked with his mouth wide open. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't close his mouth. Neighbors came around with different suggestions—massage, herbs, the sorcerer—but nothing worked. He couldn't eat solid food and after a few weeks of liquid diet he was losing weight fast. The family was very worried.
One evening, a stranger came to the settlement and on hearing of Sukh Deo's uncle's predicament he visited the family and announced that he could cure the uncle if the family agreed to do whatever he told them. They hastily agreed.
The next morning, he gave instructions for a very hot fire to be kindled beside the porch of the house. He ordered the sick man to sit on the porch beside him. Then he began to heat a branding iron in the fire. He took it out occasionally to check its heat. As he did, the sick man blanched, shook with fear and tried to move back. Orders were given to hold the sick man firmly in place.
Finally, when the branding iron was red hot the stranger pulled it out of the fire and pointing it toward the sick man's mouth lunged forward to within a few inches of his face. The sick man jumped back with all his strength and at the same time his mouth opened wider with fear. Lo and behold, that freed the locked jaw, and he could close his mouth again.
The grateful family gave hospitality and gifts to the stranger. The neighbors were amazed at his boldness and creativity.
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.