Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Of all the words I learned during my time spent in South India ("hello", "how are you?", "lizard", "baby lizard", "frog"), goodbye is still not one of few I am good at actually saying. Instead of sharing with you the true sadness and distress I felt to be saying goodbye after finally feeling as though I was able to fit in, I will convey to you the overall growth and pleasure that came out of this six-week experience as a whole.
I came to India and to work with LAFTI for several reasons, the first being opportunity. Being connected with India and LAFTI from a young age, through parents, through heritage, and through my own overall commitment to learn about and work on issues related to peace and social justice, the opportunity to work with LAFTI was an opportunity I could not miss. Secondly, and much more important for me, I came to work with LAFTI to learn about Krishnammal. While I was interested in the work she does, the Dalit community she works with, and history of the country in which she works, I have always been much more curious about the way in which she conducts her work. I yearned to learn more about her as a person, as an activist, and as my adopted grandmother, abd about her journey as a leader of a formerly repressed and unrepresented people.
With regards to the overall growth that has come from this experience, it is truly indescribable. I have learned so much from everyone I have met on this trip, the baby goats, the auto drivers, the village workers, my grandma, and everyone in between. My growth has not come specifically from seeing different places, meeting new people, or from learning about peoples' sufferings, but from being in a time and place when I am able to piece together all of these places, people, and sufferings into one. It is an understanding of the country's history, the people's culture, and the Dalits' struggles that have all intertwined to create a foundation from which personal and spiritual growth is an obvious next step.
Thank you Krishnammal and Jagannathan for being the two most inspiring grandparents I could ever have. Thank you LAFTI for allowing me into your hearts and community and for giving my the opportunity to understand your past and all your sufferings. Thank you to my four guardian angels, Valayrmathi, Poongothai, Karnegei, and Mani-Muri for taking me under your care as a daughter, sister, and friend of your family. Thank you to my parents for always making me feel just a little bit uncomfortable, for instilling in me something that continues to grow. I have now filled the gaps of my own internal workings, and am on to developing more knowledge and more curiosity to start that cycle all over again.