Why does everything seem more beautiful when something comes to an end?
Today was our last day at RSO. At times I thought this day would never come, like when the sweat and flies became part of a normal day. And at other times, I swore we were skipping days because there was no way a week had gone by already...then two...then three.
We spent time this morning at a colony called Moot. There are only 7 people still living from this colony, the rest having passed away from affects of leprosy. They had the place so clean and tidy it was picturesque. Maybe my standard of beauty, or my definition of picturesque, is somewhat skewed from a 'normal' ideal, but the morning was beautiful.
It definitely had a feeling of family and community with so few members of the colony left. They are all they have. Each other. It might not have been my most touching of experiences while here, but it was still beautiful. Not every moment has to be profound. Some of life's moments are just what they are...normal. That being said, I'm slightly humored at myself for thinking that sitting in a leper colony in the back country of India felt just sort of 'normal.' Maybe India is getting into me more than I realized. I did wake up this morning and smiled when I realized last night was the first night I dreamt of India, holding the fingerless hands of a nameless someone.
We danced and played music with them, just to enjoy the movement. One man who no longer has fingers, toes, or much of his right leg, sat watching all of the movement. I turned to see a blue water pitcher in a doorway and ran to pick it up. I turned it upside down and started beating it like a drum. After handing it to him, that man didn't stop beating that water pitcher for almost the rest of the time. It was nice he could be a part.
After we got back, we started brainstorming in the Mango room for ideas of what to do for 'our wall.' There's a space along the back wall behind the kitchen where every group of volunteers gets to paint something that represents their group's time here at RSO. We tried forever to come up with something, anything; we started throwing out the cheesiest of ideas. I suggested we write "Foundation for Tomorrow" on it, and we actually did. Ha! I had Matthew pull off some banana leaves from the tree to pour our paint on because we had no plates, and I realized how much I'm going to miss everyone and just having fun doing things I'll never do again.
Then play time again. Afterwards, we ran home to take showers then back to our houses to get dressed for our special dinner. When I walked in to the house, Raji was up on one of the bunk beds of the girls. When she saw me she yelled, "Anne Marie!" and jumped off. I showed her my beautiful sari and she held it to her chest and said how beautiful it was. Yeah! She helped me and Lauren get dressed because tying a sari is not easy. Then she just didn't stop! Put a bindi on our foreheads, and some paint in a dot, then pulled out a necklace and put it around my neck. I felt so fancy! I'm going to miss my house of girls.
Tonight, before leaving the house for the last time, I took 'my girls' faces in my hands and told them I loved them. Chase (my older brother) took my face in his hands once and I remember thinking what a sign of affection that was for me.
Like mother like daughter. When Tierty saw me all in my sari, she ran and wrapped a towel around herself and called it her sari. (Remember...this is the little one that calls me 'Mom.')
Parota, sauce, and cucumbers. That was dinner. Parota has been talked up so much by the leaders, they saved it for the last day to let us try it authentic. It came in square shaped packages wrapped individually in newspaper and tied in string. It was dang heavy. Good. Kind of like a buttery roll/croissant/tortilla? Now you're asking yourself what better combination you could possibly ask for? Not many.
Then we had the best little meeting all together in the Mango room. Amy made a short slide show, then everyone shared a story or journal entry they particularly remembered. I have cried maybe two times this whole trip. Once when I was sick, and another when Ambarasu looked me straight in the eye when I asked him in the colony one day where his mother was and he matter-of-factly replied in the squeakiest voice while shaking my hand, "I don't have a mother." Oh. Stab. Instant tears.
Anyway, tonight was a teary night. The stories everyone shared were so personal, different, and relatable for me. A few shared stories I had never heard, which I appreciated hearing. And one volunteer talked briefly about regret; things he did and things he didn't. I've never been a fan of the word regret. People speak of regrets when they are sad and wishing for change in the past. I am sure there were moments I could have summoned up just a little more energy to work a little bit harder or longer. But that's just the way things are. And tonight I feel I can walk on the airplane tomorrow and feel the way Amy asked us to feel, exhausted, happy, and content that we gave all we felt we could give. I'm looking forward to that feeling.
Then as the absolute BEST going away present ever...RAIN!
Yes, it is 2:00 A.M. in the morning. Yes, I just went out in all my clothes into a courtyard filled with half a foot of water. Yes, we threw buckets of water at each other and danced in the rain. Yes, we are boycotting letting the day end. Yes, I am waking up in 5 hours to travel for days...not to go to sleep again until Sunday morning.
And YES, this was the best end to a
life changing trip that any of us could have asked for!