The rain finally came, pouring down our last day. The heat evaporated, amazing how a little cloud cover turns it frigid. Our shabby room with the tarp ceiling kept us so warm and dry. Despite its stuffiness, it made me appreciate the simple shelter it offered. Made me almost forget the huge spiders that crawled over the walls every night.
That simple appreciation seems to be the greatest gift the homestay offered me. Not in the sense that these people have a less or lower quality of life than me, not just an appreciation of what I do have, but an appreciation of what an intricate existence living so simply or minimally can be.
How deeply rooted the family I stayed with was to their environment. How present they are forced to be through the humdrum of everyday routines.
They seemed imprisoned to me at first, but I can only remember with such meticulous care that every duty was preformed and the love that came forth.
How purposefully the women woke up each and every morning with their whole families on their backs. How clean and beautiful they looked with only concrete rooms and a bucket to shower with. The balance created in doing laundry by hand. The peace I found in that simpler existence.
Despite not being able to carry many of those things back home, I took an appreciation that these impoverished villagers, monetarily poor, live a richer existence than most in the United States.
I remember the moon and star one of those long ago nights. It was a crescent hanging low in the sky with a bright planet gracing the right corner. It pulled in my memory at some forgotten universal importance. What I’ll never know, but it’s small moments like these that I think I’ll remember forever.
Moments like my grandfather so crinkled he looked like a piece of paper, sitting and reading the news under the stairs. Him smiling toothlessly as he watched his son playfully bat the puppy’s nose. When the father’s voice trickled in through the door, singing a song to lucky Siru the dog. The young boy, Rahul’s, breathless cricket updates from the village boy’s afternoon game. Shivani, the eleven year old girl, bobbing up and down as she tried to sneak up behind us on the roof with her shy little smile. The daughter our age swaying her hips and flipping her hand to some unknown song playing in her head as she did chores and thought no one was watching.
Our host mom’s pearly wide smile when I proved my worth by sweeping the courtyard. The grandmother, Ama’s, blaring grin and chortling laughter at my strange antics. The way she took my head between her two gnarled hands and brought it to her face in praise. The way our host mom woke us up with chai and a stuttered good morning every day. The way Rahul’s mom grabbed him and proudly declare that he was her son. When the two kids got lost in a game of tag and ended up tackling each other. The mom would hit them with flowers and shoo them away happily. The way saris dragged over concrete steps. The way they dripped and danced on clothes lines in the wind. As if the wind tried to mimic the beautiful way the women moved in their own saris.
What a gift fleeting in and out of a whole family’s existence is. What a powerful thing to remember.