Gangangar is the village where I live these days. It’s in the middle of Tarai (filed) land. Between wide open fields of rice, I can see both the south Indian border and the Himalayas picks from standing up in the bamboo tower, when the sky is clear at dawn.
My right palm
We were coming back from the walk in the jungle, the day we went chasing the rhino. Patam looked at ours right palms, Eli’s, Casiy’s and mines. Eli takes clear, strong decisions, Casiy seems to be double questioning hers. I am kind hearted, I am told with a sight … but I also take strong decisions; I will never be happy with sitting at a desk and working at the computer, I need to do hard work, real work out there.
Reading stories with the children
They come now every day around 5:30 in the afternoon at Pramila’s house, we move the banks together in the middle of the court yard, and we read stories. The first day there was only one boy; I wish I remembered his name, but I don’t. They all have these fascinating, and complicated names for me, all with a meaning. Like their fate or their shape of the heart are being decided by at the time their parents chose the names for them … He was reading slowly through the Moral Stories book. It’s impressive how good his English was. I stood beside him, we were both nervous by this first sharing of a new moment. I helped were he could not manage the pronunciation of one word, and I explained the meaning of the words he did not know.
Now they are 4 or 5. They pass the book from one another, tease each other in Nepali, and laugh. When they get tired or board, which happens quite quickly at their age, they look at me and say Tomorrow, another one. Playing badminton till the sun goes down and they have to run back at their homes for daal is by far the preferred activity.
My whole collection of tango music is with me on my laptop. The greatest companion for the moments when I feel I am getting nervous in this new world … and background music for my 45 minutes of stretching every early afternoon. I think of Buenos Aires then.
Pariksya took me to the next village on the back on the motorbike, to choose the fabric for my very first surta. It’s Dasain, and the tradition is to wear new clothes in the last and most important day of the festival. Surakshya came later with Kshitiz. It will be dark purple and green; I chose Pari’s favourite, and I love it, too.
Ama only allows Pari and Suri cook in their kitchen; and she does not eat food cooked by somebody else. So she was not happy when she heard I would like to learn how to cook. The girls told her I am like an older sister to them, and then she said if they thought so, then it was fine. She even came to the kitchen while we were cooking. I asked them to tell her I thanked her, for letting me be part of this important moment of the day.
Boy on the bicycle, an umbrella and a flower
I was walking back from Pakauri, after one not at all successful morning at the internet shop. Hot, hot, hot, rice lands blurring in front of my eyes. A boy on a bicycle slows down on my left side: with his right hand he’s holding the horn, with the left hand he’s holding the umbrella. The usual conversations starts: ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Romania … do you know it? Europe …’ ‘Yes …’ I am never sure whether when they say yes, they mean it; it’s in Nepali culture not to say no, so even when you ask them something and they don’t know, they would still give you an answer. ‘What is your name?’ ‘Madalina’ ‘Madalina … beautiful name’ ‘Thank you! What is your name?’ I try hard to get his name right, a few times … it’s always like that. He smiles … ‘Where do you live?’ … and the conversation goes on. I thought he would continue his ride after the regular set of questions and answers, but he’s not. He keeps walking by my side. ‘Here, take it!’ He hands me his umbrella. ‘Look!’ We stop by a river side … ‘Fish!’ Do I look like I’ve never seen fish in my life?! ‘Yes, I know …’ It’s my turn to smile. We keep walking on. I had told him by now where am I heading to, I hope he’s taking me on the right path, ‘cause I am not sure I was not supposed to walk straight on, when we had turned left at some point. He stops by the road side and picks two big yellow flowers. One is for me and one is for him.
We walk on, down to the village. Only that this is the opposite end … It takes me half an hour longer to get back home, but I get to walk through the the tight roads, looks at the people getting by a Monday of their lives. And I wear a yellow flower.