India follows me.
I went to a friend’s graduation party last night. I’m finally well enough to go to a party without sneaking in a nap somewhere in the middle of the evening or forcing myself to smile and nod while my stomach or head are torturing me, and I’m wearing enough concealer under my eyes to give off the illusion that I’m not completely exhausted from being sick for the past eleven months. (Wow. I just realized it was that long as I typed it – that’s counting since I got sick in South India. Wow… I have been sick for a long time.) I actually had people telling me how good I looked (granted, people who have up to this point seen me looking disoriented, emacitated, and napping, but I’m hoping it also had something to do with the new khakis I got for my birthday;) And what’s more, wherever I turned someone was asking me – and telling other people that they should ask me – about India.
The friend who was graduating – a guy who’s like a cousin to me – had an Indian great uncle there and his grandfather, who could not be there, was also Indian. There was naan at this party and channa masala and samosas, and I was mixing Hindi in with my English, talking to two fluent Hindi speakers. It made my night when the Indian Uncle looked over at his sister-in-law and said that he loved the way I said “Kia?” (A word that can mean “What?” or “Come again?”)
I got to speak to and grow to know two women who teach English as a Second language, and we swapped stories of cultures and culture clashes and connecting with people, as well as teaching methods.
I got to talk about Hindi movies and sign languages and the book I’m writing and future plans for helping the deaf and disabled of India. India was following me, and I was loving it.
But it hasn’t just been at this grad party that India has been following me. It followed me to Boston for my brother’s heart surgery when I got a chance to pray with a Muslim woman for her baby in the I.C.U., wrapping the scarf I wore around my neck over my head and turning my palms upward, connecting with her in prayer in a way I never could have done before India. It followed me when a Hindi woman was staying at the same inn and I got to speak with her even briefly – see her sad face light up a little to know that someone else had been to India who loves it and misses it like she does. It followed me when an Indian nurse at the hospital needed to learn some signs to communicate with her deaf granddaughter here in the States who is learning ASL and I was able to give her online resources to check out.
And I find there are little things I can do to keep India following me – to help me continue to connect with those people who I have come to love so dearly who are now so far from home and also to help me tell others about what God did and is doing in my life and in India. It’s things like always having a scarf around my neck (or at least having it in my purse) as a sign of modesty to those who notice it and as a way to pray with my head covered for those who connect with that. It’s wearing one of my Indian anklets throughout the summer – a reminder for me to pray for India, a way to still feel connected to India, and gateway because whenever compliments my anklet, I get to tell them my story.
I know I have the privilege of having some people who follow my blog who have been to India but are not there now or who have experienced being away from India at one time or another. Tell me, please, I’d love to know: How does India follow you?
Peace be unto you,