The judge in Chennai took a week to pass judgment on our “Leave India Notice.” On Wednesday the 15th of February (the day that we were supposed to be deported), the judge said that he would only extend my time in India for eleven days until the 26th of February. He indicated that Morgan and Abbi would be allowed to finish their education in India before being forced to leave. I gathered that he was sympathetic towards the children, a bone tossed in my direction. But we are not appeased.
We were all set to go to the next level of judges in the appeals process, the circuit bench, but couldn’t file the case until the judge signed his 25-page order. The judge, however, became extremely ill and was unable to sign.
Meanwhile, on the 15th, police in Ooty went to my house looking for me. I happened to be in town running errands and decided to stay away until I had a signed judgment in my hand. The police went to Hebron school and insisted on seeing the children. Morgan and Abbi were taken out of class and asked the whereabouts of their parents. The school was informed to alert the police if the children tried to go home.
Five days passed and each day I learned that a group of police with their vehicle were still stationed on our drive blocking our gate. At first, I thought perhaps there was a communication gap and that the local police didn’t know I had been granted a short extension. However, even after my lawyer and I had called the police and other departments multiple times and informed them of the status of my case, they continued to stake out my house and even waited (in vain) at church for me on Sunday.
Days dragged by, I stayed with kind friends and kept out of sight, warned by my lawyer and others to stay hidden. Although the law was on my side, the police were under extreme pressure from the central government. We feared that without the signed order I was not completely safe.
Every day I skyped with Greg in Nepal, where he is temporarily based, waiting for the outcome of this trial. His advice, calm assurance, and tender thoughtfulness have steadied me on many occasions this week. The fact that he has stayed in the same time zone has meant he could track with our situation night and day.
Yesterday we were disappointed again when the judge was admitted to the hospital. Time was running out.
Today, a full week since the judge verbally pronounced his orders, the judge was mercifully back at work, and by 12 pm, he had signed the judgment.
We have only two days left to appeal this judgment, tomorrow and Friday (the court doesn’t meet on weekends) to the circuit bench judges (a panel of three). If we fail there, we hope they will at least grant another extension of time to go before the Supreme Court in Delhi.
It's good to walk out of hiding. It's good to have this signed judgment in my hand, and if police are waiting in my drive, I look forward to merrily waving this short reprieve as I walk by. I can’t wait to go home with Morgan after he gets out of school today.