Hello and welcome to Smiles from India! This blog is about my gap year (between high school and college) as I live in Guwahati, Assam, India. I am working for Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org), which is a non-profit organization that repairs cleft lips and cleft palates. I am also helping the rest of the community working with the Pratyasha Foundation (http://www.facebook.com/pratyashafoundation). Enjoy and keep smiling!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Moi Tumak Bhal Pau
The other day, Kristin was out of town so I borrowed her scooter to drive to work. Along the way, I realized that everything that was new to me the first couple of months is now so normal. Once I could not navigate the unpaved streets, and now I know how to get around town. I used to think the town was smelly and dirty, but now it all seems ordinary. I always stared at the barefoot men carrying tons of
bricks on their heads, but now I do not even blink an eye. Honestly, I feel when I am walking and driving the streets here that I am home. The people walking past me are my neighbors, the friends I have made are now family, the vegetable market is a normal grocery store, and the man selling the veggies and fruit knows exactly what I am coming to buy every other night.
Kasitan, the girl who we take to school every afternoon from Lakhtokia, has been sick with a virus this week. I have been checking on her every day. I walked into her house on Tuesday and found
her throwing up. When she was done, she came to give me a kiss on the cheek… yummy. Today, I walked two other slum kids—cute Avita and Ajbanu—to get some food. (Sidenote: There is another
NGO in Guwahati that also helps Lakhtokia on some weekdays by providing lunch--so I was taking Avita and Ajbanu to this NGO. It is so comforting to know that more people are providing for this
community.) We were walking in our usual way, holding hands and dancing and laughing. All of a sudden I heard, “I love you.” I said, "Excuse me?" I looked down and Avita looked up and she said,
“I love you.” I did not think she knew what that meant. So, I asked her what “I love you” in Assameese was. Luckily, I had a pen and paper in my purse and wrote I what she said to me. When I returned
to the center, I asked my Assamesse friends how to say, “I love you” in Assamesse. And they said, “Moi Tumak Bhal Pau.” Which is exactly what I had written on my piece of paper: “Moi Tumak Bhal Pow.”
This is one of those moments that you read about and that you hear about. This is one of those moments that you never think will happen to you. I love these children but sometimes you cannot tell if they really understand that. After this happened, I realized why this has become such a familiar place for me, because love is everywhere.
Sending smiles and “Moi Tumak Bhal Paus” from India,