Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Colors of a Rainbow

The giant bird had landed safely leaving me an emotional wreck. I have yet to touch the land but being on it breaks down my walls and floods my face with tears. Part of the same planet, thousands of miles away from familiar land. A mutual ocean the only body we share. I don’t remember what my ‘home’ is like because I’ve found a new place to stay. Disconnected yet connected to another world. The air feels heavier here, the people a little darker, my heart a little lighter. I was ready to take it in, pollution and all. It was much nosier, the streets more crowded with colorful women, men, children, cows, elephants. A community, a village, a family. Vibrant colors radiating, a reflection of their souls. Smiles, nothing but smiles. The simplicity of a smile the extension of their affection. My arrival had no impact as they went about their lives but my presence did not go unnoticed. Eyes locked for a second and transformed years of my life.

Two boys sitting on the side of the road blowing kisses my way. Eye Contact. They flutter towards me—butterflies and a smile. I’ve smiled a million times in my lifetime but this smile came from the depths of my stomach, the pit of my heart, my entire being. With a blow of a kiss love is spread and smiles are found. Beggars. Left, right, front, back—Beggars. Food their greatest luxury. Communication: hand to mouth—hunger. I put my head down. No Eye Contact. Shameful that I can’t help them all. Humbled. I can’t even help myself back at ‘home’ but they don’t know that. 

Mosques, temples, churches reside side by side on a one block span. Acceptance. God. Unity. A world so divided but they manage to coexist. Swastikas a symbol of well-being. A symbol we've learned to turn our heads from. 

Touch. Touch as much as you can. As long as you can feel you’ll remember. Marble, dirt, water. People laying on the streets, on the sidewalks, on staircases. Heat. Boiling hot dry heat. Sucks the life out of you. Puts you to sleep. But arms remain extended out to a world that cannot save them. Rivers, a communal place to cleanse—mind, body, soul. Forgiveness. 

Friendship. I have made friends here that will forever be in my heart—Raj. A man said, “We don’t believe in war we believe in unity.” And I thought how silly since I come from a world that is in war and remains divided. And he continues to say, “Countries are all alike and are made up of people just like us—children, mothers, fathers.” I couldn’t believe how much sense he made in a casual conversation. Sense the world lacks but could use to change it forever. Sense that is taking us years and years to figure out. Sense I just learned in a casual conversation. I gave him a tip. He placed it on his head then raised it towards the sky. It must be a universal gesture because I heard his ‘Thank You’ loud and clear. Maybe not to me but to some greater power. A meal he can bring home to his family. 

Family. My family is scarce back at ‘home’. Hi Mom, Bye Mom. That is my family and that is the time I have with my family. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. Life for us, it’s just there. For them, it’s everywhere. Mausoleum. The Dead reside 240ft above ground. A mausoleum of honor and love. A mausoleum of unity forever after. Their spirits celebrated with riches. I stand there in awe. A different world in the middle of their reality. Outside these walls, Beggars. Reality. 

Wedding. A population of billions, crowds of cars in between lines. In the middle of it all a celebration. Love always prevails. Music, fireworks, car horns, invitation. I find myself celebrating with the groom while he heads towards the rest of his life. I don’t know his name, age, wife but we’re celebrating together. Cars become more impatient. Horns overpowered by laughter. 

Appreciation of the world. Water, liquid gold—luxury. Work, long and hard—luxury. Family, hungry but many—luxury. Life is luxury. But there is something beautiful about suffering. Something we cure with a pill back at ‘home’. And I can’t help but think, “How can they live like this?” But they have for thousands of years and many more to come. “How can they live like this?” Valuing simplicity over complexity. Community over privacy. The only people to truly find peace and are able to live united. To accept others. To accept life. To promote love. 

Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet. When standing alone they are nothing but solid colors. Put together they make a rainbow.

RedOrangeYellowGreenBlueIndigoViolet put together make India.


As I ventured back home I found myself struggling to put this experience into words. My heart feels heavy as I think about how their lives continue to move on as I remain frozen in a past that dances around me and is forever etched into my heart.

5 comments:

  1. Andrea, sounds like you've had a truly eye-opening experience. In what ways do you think you've been transformed?

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  2. Nice piece of writing, Andrea. The sentiments you've expressed here, and the way you felt when you returned home, are very similar to what I experienced when I travelled to Poland as an adult with my parents. My father was Polish and we still have a lot of family there. It felt like home, like I had found my roots. Glad you had such a transformational journey!

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  3. I am an Indian woman and I am glad that you came and loved our country. For how long you were here ? Are you planning to visit again ? Then I would suggest you to visit south India and east India. In south India you may visit Munnar , Kerala etc. Again, you'll have totally different experience and Again, you might feel like re defining India. Trust me I really enjoyed reading your post. The title is so apt. India has many different colorful shades to present to the world. sometimes including the black, white and grey shades also.

    Love,
    Shainee

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  4. I freely admit to not liking to be in crowded places and a have felt a bit frightened by learning some of the violence against India's women and girls, but after watching "The Best Marigold Hotel", a number of times, I began to get in touch with the way these uptight Brits were melting towards the people, flavors, scents, sounds, busyness and the optimism of the Indian people. They look at life as a privilege and cherish the memories of the ones who pass on. Part of me wanted to experience these things for myself, to overcome my uncertainties and fears. Maybe based on the movie and your wonderfully written post, I may venture to the land of India one day. Cheers!

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  5. Your contemplative, philosophical post does conjure glimpses of the maddening chaos that India is. Indeed, fortitude and forbearance of the masses keep this country going. That is not to say we don't have our share of the uber rich and the fantastic. However, unbridled, deep rooted crime and corruption may prove to be the nemesis of once vibrant culture and consciousness.

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