What to say....what to say!?! Okay, I'll start with this....
AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A SOUTH INDIAN PARTAAAAYYYY!!!!!
I just returned from a little shindig for a woman who is retiring from her teaching position at St. Xavier's after 30 years. First there was mass, then a break for tea and fried goodies, then dancing, then skits, then more dancing...and then MORE food! Indians do it RIGHT!!! In Southern India, you typically eat lunch using big banana leaves as plates. In these modern days, they use 'computer leaves'...green computer paper in the shape of a leaf! I gotta kick outta that. But then again, I get a kick outta India. I can easily say today was my greatest joy in India thus far. Having girls arms around me constantly...and laughing endlessly with the sisters. It's not like...its LOVE.
I am packing my bag for my bus ride to Chennai tomorrow evening. I don't even want to THINK about leaving! However, I did decide to come back here to Kodaikanal for March...so I guess that makes saying goodbye a little easier. When I was a wee tot, I was convinced that if you are still unmarried by a certain age, then you are fated to become a nun. It has been a long standing joke at the Moran household, so you can imagine their remarks when I fell in love with the convent. Don't worry though, I won't be taking any vows until marriage.
Ahh! I still can't believe I am leaving tomorrow! I feel as though I have just started to dig in with these girls. We laugh and joke as they teach me Tamil. To them, I am an escape from life. To me, they are the life I have been looking for.They call me 'Auntie' and constantly treat me like a human jukebox...always requesting songs. The lyrics that come out are always a surprise, especially to me! Today it was Neil Diamond and Michelle Branch. Who knows, tomorrow the Beach Boys might make an Indian debut!
Yesterday I found a slingshot on Sr. Lucy's desk...so NATURALLY I thought it had been confiscated from a mischievous student (not unlike a certain Tally Latcham and myself in our schoolgirl days! Tal, this slingshot is a BEAUTY. It coulda made a bigger dent then our whole clog-on-the-ledge scheme!) After a brief inquiry, I discovered that Sr. Lucy is the master sling-a-teer herself!! She can scare away a monkey king with only the slightest sound of stretching rubber! We had a good laugh, and then later at dinner, it was decided that I will marry a man who is excellent with a slingshot and equally talented with a hammer. Then we will move to Kodaikanal, I will teach and he will be PEST CONTROL. AKA-monkey man.
Today a teacher asked me how old my husband and children are, and what kind of marriage we have if he just lets me take off to India for three months! I laughed for a solid five minutes. It's not the first time I have been asked this question, however. She was aghast when she learned that I am neither married nor in school! I am quite the delinquent by Indian standards. Lets just say that independence isn't woven into Indian values. Something I love about India and hate at the same time. It's good for family values but equally abusive to women.
Even after four weeks here, the dust has hardly settled. Its been kicked up rather. It's incredibly sad, and somewhat amusing at times, how I can travel thousands of miles, to a different WORLD it seems, and still be stuck in my own head. My first two weeks here were sweet to say the least, but they were....without.
Last week I was knocked sideways. Through the course of one day, there were at least 5 different women who came to the door sobbing to the sisters about completely unrelated yet desperate situations. I was drinking tea in the next room just listening to these women cry. They were speaking in Tamil, so all I could do was sit and listen to the sobs...and imagine the despair. That afternoon I read a few emails from friends back home...and was just broadsided by the heartbreak. There is so much ache in the world, so much grief, sorrow, doubt, loss and total despair. I don't think scale, circumstance or location even matters much. Heartbreak is heartbreak.
I have discovered that I see my own ailment, my own joy even, as a little bit (or alotta bit) more important than that of others. And to what end? It was all too easy to buy into the wanderlust idea of escaping to India for awhile and returning completely changed...with long hair and new earth-shattering wisdom. None of these things are wrong or bad...but the idea that MY change, MY experience is the most important thing...THAT idea is narrow. Without. It leaves me MISSING out, on a world of joy, and yes, a world of hurt. Perhaps heartbreak and perspective go hand in hand.
I have had more than a few melancholy afternoons this past week. Feeling disheartened and angry at myself...for spending the greater part of my life sitting on my own curb, and often in my own gutter....when now I see that the truest treasure lies in the gutter of others. It seems backwards by so many standards, but that's what I love about Jesus. He loved and led from below. In the gutter.
There is such a mental reaction. To just shut down in the presence of poverty, heartbreak even. Its as if my body's defense mechanism is....distraction. The poor cannot afford food or even the freedom to compartmentalize their lives. It's all one. One heart, one ache, one joy. I don't get it...but I desperately want too.
I feel a bit like Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire...feverishly writing a midnight revelation. There is probably no one out there who caught that ref...even my movie buff sisters....You had me at hello?!?! Anyone?
I am pretty sure that my eyesight and understanding are being turned inside out. These few months are not a full and complete work that will end April 6th when I fly home to the states. Things are just getting started. For right now, God is showing me that compassion is only a product of something bigger. Passion for something bigger..HOPE in something bigger. I think India is saving me from a rigormortis faith. And thank God, because what is the point of faith if its dead?
Outgrowing the yesterdays faith is all I can ask for I guess. The growing pains are less than pleasant, but compared to the crooked hand these girls have been dealt...the heartbreak is bearable. I don't know what my internet sitch will be like at the orphanage in Chennai...so HOLLA until next time!
Much love, sorry for the rambles...just have alot on my heart.