As I stepped off of a motorcycle, at a corner of a very small shelter, I could see the flooded ground stacked with bricks to prevent from falling. I stepped on a broken brick and felt my foot sink into the ground. I started to sprint as fast as I could to the shelter so my new shoes don’t get dirty. As I stood, I saw a young woman, barefoot washing some vegetables. As soon as she saw me she walked over and greeted me with such enthusiasm and respect. She then asked me to meet her kids.
I put my shoes back on, and walked over to what looked like a building under construction. No windows or doors, rods sticking out of the walls, stacks of bricks scattered around, was the kitchen. I walked up to the series of desks next to each other in front of the kitchen where eyes looked up and then looked away, shy smiles made their way through loose teeth and where every smile whispered something to the other. I marched up, not knowing how to approach the whispers that came to a complete silence. I finally stopped in front of a short haired girl, with a traditional bhoto on, and smiled, which I’m sure she did not see, because as soon as she realized I was in front of her, she hid her head behind her book. I asked for her name, I got no reply. I tried to ask the girl next to her for her name, again no reply. I was completely lost as to what to do. As I stood, confused and unsure, a little girl, about 5 came up and said, “her name is Aishwarya, she wants to be a model.” I was surprised by the initiation the little girl took to start a conversation when I could not even start one. I could not help but smile. Her watery eyes looked me dead in the eyes with such confidence. I asked, “what do you want to be?” and she replied, “A singer.” I didn’t doubt it, I was sure with the confidence she had, she was sure to become a singer. As we talked, she introduced me to a few more girls at the table. Such a little girl, opened me up in front of a group of strangers. Slowly, but surely, we all got close. I started seeing myself as a little girl, as I spoke to them.
As we gathered around the kitchen table, ready to eat, a little girl sitting on Sagar uncle’s lap pointed to me and whispered something in his ear. She was smiling, almost laughing, looking away and covering her face with her hands. Sagar uncle told me, “she would like to sit on your lap.” I was speechless, and I nodded and finally uttered, “yeah! Sure”. There was silence, she smiled such a beautiful smile, and looked me right in the eyes. Again, I said “Come on, you can come” but she kept smiling and did not make a move. Finally she said, “I can’t. You have to come get me.” For a while, I thought she was being playful, however later I found out she was paralyzed hip down. I picked her up, and sat her on my lap, holding her tight. She held my cheeks with both of her hands and kissed me and kept smiling her beautiful smile. I got goose bumps from her innocence and her pure love she shared with me. I felt her warmth as she stroked my arms and said “you are so pretty.” As she engaged me into her game, Aishwarya, the quite girl I was introduced to earlier asked me if she could fix my hair. Again, I was speechless, so I just nodded.
As dinner was cooking, Dikchhya didi introduced me to each one of her kids. They all had big dreams. They wanted to become an actress, singer, dancer, super model, scientist, and one of the girls said, “I want to be what mom is,” when we asked “and what is that?” she answered, “help children.” I had tears rolling down my cheeks, out of what? I don’t know, I was just so happy, so myself. One little boy, who did not say a word the whole time I was there, said his goodbyes giving me a kiss on the cheek.
I was drowned by the love of these kids. I felt my youth sprawling out from deep inside. Smiles of everyone sheltered the bad reality. They were happy with everything with nothing. They did not need to protect their shoes from the mud, they enjoyed getting their feet dirty. This made me realize, it’s not the price of the possession or even the amount of possessions you own, you can be the happiest person in the world, with nothing at all.