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.