I am writing this in the nude by candlelight sober and alone on my 21st when the night is hot. At this moment, I don’t give a dam (not even a sandbag) when the power comes back. This is the right condition to write inflections bout my current condition. To write long and complicated dissertations about one idea one needs a library, a nice desk, a comfortable chair, and the internet. These slow days your man is feeling simple and earthy—the right state to write about an abstract, huge, mysterious, essence like humanity.
Why are we doing this? Whats the right way to do it?
Judging by the people I have gravitated towards, my feature favorite these days is humility. I love the blushing and the kind patience. Like everywhere where there is human, there is more self-centeredness than lack thereof in Kolkatta. At night walking I am cursed by drunks in the streets, several times teenagers have surrounded me mocking and laughing at my expense knowing I don’t understand there speak, and almost every shop-clerk tries to cheat me. One time on the bus a small wrinkled man tried to pick my pocket poorly, I pushed him away than one of the men who work in the bus punched him in the head and threw him out of the doorless entrance while we were in motion. (the packet tight, not like a bag of Lays chips, bus is always exciting- a few weeks ago I saw a woman have a seizure.)
Yet amongst this sorted lot, I have found some of the sweetest souls to ever cross my path. For instance…
My main process in teaching English is simply practice. Each day a different simple conversation topic is repeated over and over to each member of the class. On one specific day we were doing future goals. One 15 year old boy stood up when it was his turn and anyone could tell he was nervous by the sweat-knitted brow and the way his eyes remained peeled on the empty desk he stood over. He sat next to the window so that when he raised his head to speak (avoiding all eye-contact) the sun illuminated his dark face. In a quiet voice he whispered “my name is Vicketta Not and I will be saint.” I started laughing like a cynical fool and told him to answer seriously. With the light illuminating his entire face he looked at me directly, blushed completely, and repeated “I will be saint.”
My beloved Sanjoy as! He is the hardest working teacher in the mission, far surpasses anyone I have met here in technological literacy, is handsome with a mustache to cause any man envy, but would never admit any of this even if tortured. His English is no better than the rest, but I can always get his point for it is never anything complicated. Today he photo-shopped and printed onto a plaque a picture of me and the girls surrounded by digital flowers spelling ‘happy birthday dear shane.’ Being touched by his efforts I hugged him- he blushed while his whole face tightened around his glasses as if to say “Who me? Nonono you’ve got the wrong boy I am nothing.” He than quickly walked off saying “It was God.” I don’t know what he meant by this. When he prays his demeanor is no different than when he is eating dinner. Sanjoy seems satisfied and content with his, relatively to yours and mine, Stonehenge hard life.
I envy the satisfaction of these villagers. If I was Sanjoy’s age (30) with his master’s degree, unmarried, and working hellahard for a room about the size of two closets there would be spite, lots of it. Why once I admit the world is beautiful must I give it up? I’m not saying I want to suck the river Ganges dry, but I also don’t want to be just another supporting riverbank-- I want to flow with the living stream. I want to love a woman and be loved back. I don’t ever want to be deprived of the arts- music books, movie, theatre, or the handcrafted. Also, after a long day a drink is relaxing and a nice change in perception. I know this body is just a stream of matter continuously changing and that all the forces have been produced by food so I am not some supreme… but it’s all I got.
These days I sing. Lord knows the brutal notes I beat but they can’t resist my soul-filled hollerin’ and throw back a bangla gan (Bengali song). I am sure there is some term taught in commerce classes which would have better to use in that sentence than “throw back” but I don’t care what it is, never have, and don’t think I’m ever gunna.
Favorite Gandhi quote- “My life is my message.”
Ah, how terrible poverty is. Every time I am grinning to myself after seeing some woman worthy of a magazine cover, I turn my head and there’s a naked baby in the street, sometimes alone. There are so many naked babies in the street here. Each day my children remind that happiness is what life’s all about; and you can’t be happy if your hungry and alone.
I posted some pictures of a wonderful Bengali wedding I had the honor of attending on the “pale rider” photo album in my facebook profile and hope to upload some videos soon.
Thanks for reading…