The hardest moment was when Kamala asked me to stay. To extend my visa, to change my flight ticket, to stay one month longer. To stay and take care of the children for her, she would have to go be with her sick son.
It’s a bit after 10:30 in the morning … I have taken the kids to school, Seema has finished the house chores, and now we can go out on the terrace and eat rice. I still hear her calling me … all those mornings: ‘Sister! Come eat rice!’ I could not wait for those words, so many times.
I accompany her into the kitchen, I cross my hands around my upper body, I clench my fiests. It’s very cold, but the rice and the daal and the vegetables are steaming, and I will soon be warmed up by the sun and food altogether. I take my plate and go out on the terrace, Kamala is already there.
It was I believe the hardest moment for me, from all six weeks I spent with them. The moment Kamala asked me if I could extend my visa and stay longer. Or if I could come back in January. ‘Go home, see your family, and then come back. Can you come back?’ I felt the desperate need to say ‘yes’, and yet I couldn’t. Not in that very moment, not until I would have had the time to project my life ahead for the next few weeks, at least: I would still go back home to Vienna for Christmas, then I would go to Athens to be with the man I had grown to care for from a world apart, and from Athens I would go to Bucharest to see my family and my closest friends. I could not, and I would not give up none, I would go back to Europe to live all these encounters. But I would – and I was ready to – give up Buenos Aires.
‘I can’t promise you now. I can’t say for sure. I have to go back … I have to. If I can, please trust me, I will come back.’ ‘Ok.’ You simply don’t make such a promise, not in a moment like this. You simply don’t. I felt her peace of mind and her shaken security depended on my answer that very morning. And I chose not to overpromise, as I would do many times after. But as soon as she left the terrace and I was left in Jennifer’s company alone, I put my plate down, food unfinished, a lump in my throat, tears all over my face. ‘How do you say ‘no’ to such a question?’, I asked her.
‘Don’t hurry to do good. You don’t know what God wants to do there.’ I’ve kept this learning close to my heart, all these years. You must feel me now, my dear old friend; because you cannot read me. I thank you.
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