I Feel You


 Meena’s eyes crinkled as she laughed and turned back to the huddle of boys.  I somehow understood her fluid train of words, “She doesn’t understand what I am saying.  And I don’t speak English.”  Her apparent frustration and determination to explain the game to me caused me to laugh along with her.  I feel you.  Mein Aapko Samajhti Hoon.  I squeezed her hand, which was already tightly woven around mine.  Her powerful grip was the result of her pursuing her love for Judo, and her father’s full support of her passion.

            As I was leaving for yet another bus ride, all the girls squeezed their way to touch my outstretched hand.  The hand decorated in intricate flowers, loops, lines and swirls of mehendi.  The hand that wraps Paneer Do Pyaza in roti, shakes the hands of elders, waves to locals who wonder where in the world I came from, and houses the fingernails that I bite when a child cries because of my alien presence. I take turns holding each of the girls’ hands and cup mine around them, our sweat sticking us together. I just love how many feelings I can express with my hands.  A heartful Namaste, a grateful Aabhar, a hopeful Aaojo. And I love how much I can feel as a tangible sense too.

I felt a tickle on my arm, so I peered over my shoulder to make sure it wasn’t an ant creeping up. It was actually a small girl’s baby strands of hair peeping out from her long braid.  Her quiet but attentive peering and big bright eyes reminded me of Bambi.  Was it the way she observed my movements?  Or how she playfully followed me around the room full of girls?  Like Bambi.  Like a cloud.  Like a little sister.

            I feel my senses exploding.  There are more than five.  Two words on the Pepsi bottle beside me ask, “Feeling happy?” What I am feeling cannot be described in one adjective. I am in the spotlight, brought to so much attention and care.  New new new new.  Flashing at me are selfies- capturing all the friendships started. But I am afraid of forgetting.  And I guess that is stressing me, making me tense even during times of relaxation.  I want to catch the moments of pure joy with my hands and seal them tightly in a glass jar.  But my life is not Inside Out.

            Feel. Imagine. Do. Share.  Written on the flags flying at the Riverside School.  Feel resonates with me the most.  Perhaps feel is why I visited each of these villages and projects.  So the blind men could feel more of the elephant.  Or should I say horse-cow.