The jewel of the heart

A tall, dry tree towered above the group when a young girl peeked from behind, emanating energy and love with her wide, genuine smile lighting her small face. She tiptoed towards me, delicate and fragile, as if she would hurt the sand with her soft, floating footsteps. The anklet tied around her frail ankle shined brighter than the soaring sun. Her anklet whispered in the bombardment of many voices as the chimes kissed my ears, simply soulful and pure. I introduced myself and complimented her dance while she struggled to hide the shower of embarrassment apparent in her flushed, tanned cheeks. Her gaze lowered as she shied away and mumbled her name—Pooja. Her stained red, thin hands slid towards her eyes like they contained the treasures of history but what she didn’t realize was that her eyes were deeper and richer than any infinite treasure. For a short, petite thirteen-year old, her words were dipped in vigor and almond-shaped, nut-brown eyes embodied determination. Most importantly, her hidden exposed heart poured streams of love and excitement, greeting me with a rhythm of undefined energy and excitement. I spoke a few words in Gujrati and my eyes caught the most wonderful moment as I tried comprehending the deepening of her dimples, glistening sparkle in her brown eyes and the silent howl of zest that ran through her body when I asked her to teach me Garba. Her tiny, rough hands clasped my sweaty wrist to dance with her while her ankle’s passionate beat restored my energy. In that moment, I almost forgot about the beads of sweat trickling down my back, the distant, foul smell of cow dung and the piles of sand entering my shoes. Her feet glided on the warm sand like the cool water kissing the sand on the beach and like the blanket of fluffy clouds covering the boiling sun. Every nerve in her body danced with unreal flow and tempo. I knew at that moment that she had so much to teach and I was very eager to learn.


“Smiling costs nothing so it’s better to smile because it’s free of cost,” Devendra bhai exclaimed with overpowering spirit. I sat there in awe and surprise trying to grasp the power of his words. Everyone in the Lilapur village wore the prettiest jewel, a warm smile. I am inspired by the motivation and passion that the people have towards and for learning and teaching. A simple motto about passion in the heart and mind has transformed their lives because they have the spirit to stay strong during problems and work towards a solution together. Another inspiration I received from Devendra bhai was about finding space in a person’s heart because the heart always has a tunnel to the mind. Pooja knew nothing about me but her enthusiasm to teach me touched the deepest corners of my heart. Her welcoming nature and my interaction with her made me feel safe, comfortable and at home. They have an open heart but more importantly, a deeper and genuine level of love within that heart that knows no boundaries. It’s boundless and beautiful.