I think my father, Dr. V.K. Chawla, is the luckiest man in the world

Greenwood Commonwealth Letter to the Editor

This past Tuesday, after knee surgery the previous day, he suddenly coded and basically stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating. Our family gathered together and grieved with my friend Floyd as a bunch of hospital people started trying to revive him.
Even after barely restarting his heart, we heard the basic prognosis. Perhaps a blood clot formed, which would mean brain or other organ damage. Perhaps a massive heart attack may have caused this, which would have been the end as his heart is not strong to begin with. Other scenarios were discussed, and I was convinced that this was the end.
Then close friends of ours who work at Greenwood Leflore Hospital did their thing. Living in a small community, everyone seems to know everyone, and I held faint hope that these friends whom I love could perform magic.
We started getting calls, texts, emails. Hundreds the first day, all mentioning prayers for us. We got messages from people I have never met before but have somehow been touched by my father’s goodwill. All mentioned prayer as the key. A lot of our friends have said they will have my father’s well-being prayed for this Sunday at their church. I have always scoffed that prayer is simply words and does not necessarily work.
Not anymore. You see, prayer got my father through this, along with our friends at GLH. I think God had our friends there at the hospital looking out for my father. I think God listened to all these people in the Delta who prayed for us. I truly feel that God kept my father with us because everyone in this community loves him, as he loves them.
My father is still in ICU but is doing better. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are taking this one day at a time. He is showing progress every day.
My father could never have gotten this sort of love anywhere else. He always had to overcome hatred early on in his life. When he was born and lived in present-day Pakistan, his family was persecuted because they were Hindu. His father and two brothers were executed literally before his very eyes during a religious conflict.
When he lived in his native India, he sometimes suffered because he was from a lower caste. Although the country does not recognize that caste system now, it kept him from attaining a lot in life during that time period in the ’50s and ’60s.
When he struggled and moved to Canada, he and the rest of our family suffered from racism there. People of Southeast Asian descent were called “Packis” and were treated like third-class citizens. He was often overlooked for promotion at his government job because he was one of “them.”
When he came to Mississippi in 1977, everything changed. People respected him. He worked hard, and they liked that. He never faced any disadvantages for who he was for the first time in his life. We tell our friends all the time that the only place in the world where my father did not face discrimination is Mississippi. They can’t believe it. But it is true.
My faith in the Lord and the power of prayer has never been stronger. My faith in loving all people has never been stronger. My faith in the people in our community has never been stronger.
My father is the luckiest man in the world. He lives in the most loving, caring community in the world. They prayed for him, and he survived.
Suresh Chawla