By Rev. Arthur Sanford
Rev. Arthur Sanford and his wife, Nathalie, worked at the Kharagpur Baptist Mission in India from January 1947 to 1957. They arrived just before India’s Independence to carry on work at the Union Phillips Memorial Church that my grandparents, Rev. Edwin & Helen Brush were leaving.
Rev. Sanford, now in his 90’s, emails almost daily to family and numerous friends worldwide. Art recounts events from his life and mission work with profound gratitude and a generous dose of humor. The following excerpt – a vignette from his decade in India – will eventually be published by his daughters, Virginia McGraw and Connie Travaille of Sunseeker Publishing, as part of a collected work.
Yes, moving from that parsonage at 904 West Montgomery, Spokane [Washington USA] to 435 4th Avenue Khargpur, India did bring some shocks. One night, shortly after we got there, Nathalie woke up with something crawling over her face. She gave it a hit and we turned on the lights — it was a BIG cockroach!
Well now, that was shock enough to cause some doings the next day. Yes, we found a lot of them. What to do? Went to a place where we could get something to meet the problem — things that looked like those Fourth of July “bombs” [fireworks] we used to fire off. Only these were lighted like candles and gave off a smokey cloud that was supposed to kill all the live cockroaches. One was put under the dining table, one in the kitchen, one in each of the other rooms. We vacated the house for about four hours — then came back to open up, turn on all fans, and get the sweepers to come clean up the dead cockroaches. Did get rid of those that were alive that day, but those eggs they had laid all over the house — didn’t faze them! So the process was repeated over and over again.
We wondered where they all came from? I looked in the kitchen one day, and that was a mistake — for two reasons: first, saw the bearer sitting on his hunker slicing the meat for dinner. He had a board about two feet long – his feet on one end, the meat on the other end! Then we saw the sink — also on the floor — with the water drain on one side, a covered channel about 8 inches high and four inches wide. I ran outside to where it connected with the city sewer drain. There were cockroaches in it! We decided to lift the sink up about three feet off the floor so the bearer had to stand to do the dishes. He wasn’t too happy about that. We decided to put in an inch and half [diameter] pipe to carry the water outside. Well, before we could do that, we needed to get rid of the channel through which the water previously drained. I went outside and plugged the outlet. We got a bucket and put some hot coals in it. The bearer and cook each got a sieve. We filled the sink with water. Those cockroaches had to get out, so they came – BIG ones! Both men were busy throwing them in the hot coals. The cook counted them for fun – over 100 came out and were burned. That got rid of one place for them to hatch. But we fought cockroaches all ten years we were there, and still left a lot for the folks who followed us as pastor of the Union Church.
We did have one ally in the fight against cockroaches — lots of little lizards, which we called “chick-chickies” because that was the sound they made as they crawled. They loved cockroaches for meals. So we left them alone to aid and abet us in our cockroach fight. Anyway they were cute. Well…as cute as a lizard can be.
Yes, life was different. But we learned to love so much, we could stand everything.
© Copyright 2003, Sunseeker Publishing