Thursday, November 26, 2009
The pain of this world
It is so strange how things happen at a specific point in time, teaching us an invaluable lesson if we are willing to learn it. This past week has been one of those times. We returned to Setrawa later than expected on monday afternoon and walked into our temporary home. Usha (our co-teacher) and her cousin were seated on the floor in opposite parts of the courtyard, huddled in balls they looked as if someone had died. There was little response to our entrance, no cheerful hello or even getting up. As we entered the house further we saw Usha's father sitting in the TV room in the same infantile position. A millions questions flooded my mind what had happened, had someone been hurt, had Usha's sister's new baby died? Unfortunately we had no time to ask as it was school time and so we went off to school without Usha. At school i continued to thinking of the plentitude of horrible things that could have happened, but it was Mulsingh (another co-teacher) who let us in on the secret, Usha's father had been drinking. Govind (the NGO boss) had told us when we had started that there had been a times in the past when Usha's father had drank and refused to let Usha come to Sambhali. But he reassured us he lived in Jodhpur most of the time, in fact this was only our third time meeting him in five weeks.
When school was finished we returned home to the same cold situation. Usha's mother had gone to see Usha's sisters new baby and would not return for another day. With Usha unable to speak to us we went into our room and attempted to focus on other things. But an intense rage filled me and i so badly wanted to leap out of my room grabbed Usha's skinny little father by the neck and slap some sense into him. Of course my better sense held me back as that would never fix the problem and so we sat in the most uncomfortable silence. As i processed these emotions i realized that part of me wanted to rescue Usha because she could not rescue herself and part of me wanted to control the situation and i saw my own controlling nature in her father. Caitriona was much more cool headed about the situation thinking it would all blow over the next day and so we finally were carried off to sleep.
But we awoke to the same painful situation and the day was spent the same with us in our rooms or going off to school by ourselves and the same dead silence remained until Usha's grandmother came to the house to talk to her son. We missed most of this when we went to school and by the time we got home Usha's mother had returned. But as we had hoped she could not return the peace and herself fell into a painful silence. But the silence was finally broken that night in a screaming match and a sudden bang and crash and Usha running into the courtyard crying. by this point most of my anger had subsided and i was filled with the most intense sense of grief. The pain that this house and family felt was unreal to me, though i have experienced many black holes in my time, i have never experienced a single person pulling down everyone to such a horrific low. Usha had finally been able to talk to us briefly that day and she said that her father was extremely angry and had been drinking day and night since sunday, but why he was angry she did not know. That night i did not sleep so well, infact i spent it bent over with excruciating stomach cramps. According to Ayurveda the food you eat and the people who make it are filled with emotions, as are we, so i believe that my own feelings of anger and grief and the feelings of the mother and Usha which were prepared into the food i ate created a very unpleasant reaction in myself.
Finally daylight came and the fighting restarted and i lied in bed trying to block it all out until it was time to go to school. Though i did not feel up for it i went to school to remove myself from the black hole that the house had become and as i walked to school alone i burst into tears no longer able to hold in all these emotions. Fortunately, Usha appeared at school with her grandmother as they were concerned about my health and While we sat working she spoke to us more of this continual problem. For at least 10 yrs now her father would return home once a month from Jodhpur filled with pain and anger and would begin to drink and hit the girls blaming them for his pain. Usha said she never talks to her family or friends about it, though the whole village knows. She says she hates her father who won't let her come teach at Sambhali and will not let her get married and leave this horrible situation. It made my heart break listening to her, hearing all her bottled up pain, not understanding why she was the target. After class Caitriona and i decided we would leave the next day, one day earlier than planned. When we returned home and told the family another fight broke out, i presume the mother and brother were angry and said that this would loose them the income of the foreign teachers who come and stay and some time during the fight Usha left to go to her grandmother's. The next day when we left we went o visit her and she said that she would stay there until her father returned to the city.
This experience for me was so intense. I have not felt emotions this intensely in ages and have not fully comprehended the experience yet. But my love goes out to Usha and her family who suffer so greatly and to all people out there who experience such abuse. I am thankful that Usha lives near her family and has somewhere to and be safe. I can not imagine all the those people out there who have nowhere to go and no family near. This has not put a damper on my love for Rajasthan and her people, in fact i feel my connected to be able to have truly experienced some of their lives. I will miss Usha and all the girls and women at the school. Ironically we are off to Agra next to see the Taj Mahal, a monument to love.
I send you all my love and hope that you are happy and healthy.