1.15.2012

This weekend as we set up at the train tracks, you could feel that it was a holiday. There was an air of calm, many shops were closed, there wasn't any traffic and fewer people. There ended up being an unusually large group of volunteers coming alongside Deb and me this week, which I ended up being thankful for. The children trickled by to receive a meal and as we got down to the last fifteen or so packages, there were no more children in sight! The group of us ended up splitting in two and going into the slums itself. My group had a little tour guide, he took us down and around, passing out food on the way. It is always so awakening to walk through the slums themselves, to see the children stooped down eating the food we made, the looks of wonderment from its residents. We finished and meandered back to the rickshaw stand to meet up with the rest of the group; we were just enjoying being present in the market area, all in different conversations with locals.

A young girl who is always present at the tracks but refuses the meals drew me in, asked me to sit on a pile of collapsed cardboard with her so I did. She was around 11 or 12 years old and I had never really had the opportunity to talk with her. We exchanged the usual questions; I came to find that her uncle ran the little chai stand near by and she pointed to the building next to us, up to the third floor, and told me that was where she lived. Her eyes lit up as she asked me to come see her home. (Mind you the whole conversation was in my broken Assamese and her broken English.) I couldn't say no to those big bright eyes so hand in hand, off we went up to her home as I explained to my friends that I would walk home in a bit.

She led me up the stairs, down a dark hallway with rats scurrying by and finally through a tattered cloth hanging in a doorframe. Inside I was greeted with the smiles of her mother, father and two younger brothers. Mom had just gotten done bathing, the children were eating and quickly the girl asked me to sit down on their shared bed. They had no issues with me showing up out of nowhere and the girl was so happy to have me there, to show her parents one of the people who comes to their area every Sunday. They offered me food and water and I obliged. As I sat there and ate, she brought by every family member available explaining carefully how each person was related to her. As I finished my bowl of food she helped me clean up and then sat down and held my hand while we giggled at her playful brothers. My mind tried to take in the whole moment,  my eyes, the environment. The bed her whole family shared was smaller than the one I sleep in by myself, her whole home smaller than my room. There was an alter in the corner with the candles burning low, a television and a small shelf on which they stored and made food. It clicked. I wondered, week in and week out, why she would not take the meals we brought. As I partook in the bit of food in their home I realized that she was honest. She knew she had food available to her, she didn't want or need to take a meal herself. I felt honored to have been invited to her humble home and then to have her family feed me!  Eventually I explained I needed to go but we couldn't walk outside without stopping and meeting her auntie. Finally on the street corner as she released my hand to part ways she told me "Every Sunday, to my home you will come."

6 comments:

  1. That's so great. That she likes you enough to invite you up, that she was honest about the food...aww.

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  2. Such a beautiful little girl. She looks so genuinely happy and content... how very inspiring! What a sweetheart.

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  3. So beautiful! Your posts always inspire me & fill me with such promise & joy. Keep up your awesome work!!!

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  4. She looks so sweet, happy, and proud to be able to share with you!

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