Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"all children very happy"

direct quote from Sirjana, our girly-girl 11-year-old. actually, it was written on a pre-birthday card she gave me yesterday after school, adorned with flowers and hearts. as many of you know, i'm not a fan of my birthday. other people's birthdays i'm all about, but when it comes to mine, it has just never been a fave. at first i wasn't sure if i wanted to tell the kids when it was, but it came up one day when we were talking about ages (and how i would soon be the godforsaken age of 24), and it spread like wildfire. never before has one of my birthdays inspired so much anticipation in others (and myself, for that matter) as this one. every day is a countdown. it has even spread to the neighbors, who will be attending whatever it is this shindig turns out to be. the kids don't know their own birthdays, but they must talk about it at school (and i have noticed birthdays are a theme in their english books), because they are really excited. they really wanted a cake, but because rebecca and i cannot find our way home from the market, we decided it would be better to make our own "american" creation. we're thinking it will be something involving plantains, crushed biscuits, sugar, and some melted hershey kisses. there will also be dancing. i'll let you know what happens.

i mention Sirjana's card because it struck me. over the past week i've had some trying times, especially with the teen/preteens. mentally it has been a struggle- i found myself feeling as though i was an outsider just living (and hindering on) others lives. this was mostly sparked knowing approximately 10 words in nepali. the constant stares and laughing did not help. a random teenage cousin of our neighbors appeared one day, and becca and i almost punched him, as all he did was stare (without so much as a blink) and laugh at our every move like we weren't human. i was almost at the edge of my patience, when i remembered where i was. halfway around the world in a very different place. i look like a freak of nature, being so pale and tall, hitting my head on every door frame i come in contact with, i would probably laugh at myself if i had the chance to see it. that night, when everything in annoyance seemed to be coming to a head, the electricity was out. i went in the kid's room to see who was in there, and was greeted by a chippering round of "hello miss" from the lower bunk. a few little ones and a few bigger ones were cuddled under a huge nepali quilt, whispering to one another. blind from the darkness, i made my way to an adjacent bed and lay down. i was quickly joined by 7-year-old Sarswoti, who sat next to me and held my hand. we sat like that (becca joining us) for a good 20 minutes. in silence, in the dark, with only little whispers every few minutes.

times like that are yogic in nature. at a time when i was constantly rethinking why i was here, i suddenly found the answer. it's in the little things. sitting alone in the dark holding hands, getting a birthday card in english 6 days early, or an instant smile and "good morning miss" when i stumble out of my room at 7am make me understand completely why i'm here. i just finished reading "the god of small things" by arundhati roy (thank you emily) and it couldn't have come at a better time or in a better place. taking pleaure in the small things, and noticing how the small things effect the larger things is a concept to be taken in stride.

it actually amazes me to think that we have already been here two weeks. time moves slowly and quickly at the same time. our routine is set, and we have (i believe, knock on wood) achieved a level of respect with all of the children. though we may not be able to speak nepali, our minimal nepali and their minimal english have meshed together to form some new language understood by both parties. there are still times when we have no idea what is going on, like when we received a new bed for our room yesterday that appeared to be strikingly similar to the current bed. in actuality it is maybe 4 inches longer, sans baseboard, for our extended frames. all hilarious misunderstanding, as we thought we were getting an additional bed for our room. nonetheless, the extra few inches is much appreciated, as now we can stretch to our hearts content! the weather is getting slightly warmer, and i am currently only wearing one pair of tights to bed (last week i pretty much wore everything i brought with). in conclusion, "all children very happy". myself included.

1 comment:

'net said...

the kids have stolen my heart! 'can't wait to read about the shindig and your "american" creation. this will be a fiesta to end all fiestas! Happy Birthday, Britta!
"Tell" the kids that we have lots of snow here. We got about 8 inches yesterday.