Monday, January 12, 2015

Rural nepal: Strength and struggles

In Nepal, the women carry the heavy loads. I mean that in 2 ways, the first being that yes they literally carry everything heavy. Loads of oil, massive piles of grass, bags of corn and flour carried over the heads near and far. Never have I seen a man carry these tings. These loads are made for the women only.  The men drink tea and discuss while the women carry. They cook every mean, sometimes we babies tied to their backs and toddlers at their feet. They clean the dishes and start the fires. They pick the corn and peel the husks. They climb trees to collect leaves and Sheppard the goats. They wash the clothes and the floors. They wake first and sleep last. The women in Nepal carry the load. The load of life.  I have never seen such incredible women. Nor have I ever been as proud to be a woman myself, even if I’m not nearly as strong as them.

            I have come to the conclusion that children in developed countries are entitled brats. Years of studying child development and one-month in Nepal gave me this realization. I’m not blaming the children, or the parents really. It’s a product of the type of life you’re allowed to live. But I know if my parents asked of me, or expected of me what these parents expect, I would have thrown a massive fit about it.  On my busride out to Nepal, there was a child about 2 or 3 who boarded the bus with us. The little child was getting onto a 12 hour busride. His mother didn’t carry toys for him, or a diaper bag of snacks and distractions. She simply carried her child. And for that entire bus ride he as quiet. There was no crying, no protests no fussing in his seat. At one point he stood up in the aisle and have an adorable performance dancing to hindi music. Then went back to his seat. I was sitting on the bus nearly bored to tears after 9 hours, and there he was happy and content. In my home here there are two young boys in the family. 11 and 13. Last time I checked boys this age arent’ the best at listening to their parents. But here, without ever whining, complaining or protesting, these boys do whatever is asked of them. They cut beans for dinner, fetch water, buy apples down the road, watch out for neighbors children, wash their clothes in the river, clean their places after dinner, and climb into bed at 8pm sharing one small twin bed. There aren’t children’s toys here. Babies don’t play on fisher price mats or bounce saucers. They explore the dirt floors of kitchens while their mom’s cook. They ride on their mother’s backs through chores, They sit on straw mats in the sun and chew on random leaves or grass. Bigger kids don’t have toys either. They play and run in the streets behind houses, using sticks as bats and old abandoned soda bottles as balls. They kick up dirt and rocks. They chase goats. They help with chores. But they never complain or pout. The words Im bored don’t exist for them. Its all a product of how you live I guess. You don’t have much, then you’re happy and content without much. It’s a lesson I think we all can take something from.


 The longer I live here in Nepal, the harder it is for me to describe any of it to others who haven’t been here, to this village, to this town, to the heart of this beautiful nation. I want to take photos of everything, but they wouldn’t even begin to show what I see. I wish you could see. I wish you could see the little 7 year old girl, with her baby sibling strapped to her back, standing on a dusty front porch, gazing at me with big beautiful piercing dark eyes. I wish you could see my mami and her friends, dressed in saris, some with babies on their backs, others with toddlers at their feet, squatting in the fields for hours chatting and picking saag for supper. I wish you could see the two sisters walking hand in hand down the road, with loads of flour strapped to their heads bigger than their small bodies. I wish you could see a classroom full of faces hearing an English song for the first time, their eyes lighting with pride as they learn the moves and the words. I wish you could see a little boy watching his baby brother out on the terrace fields, while the baby crawls and giggles in the grass, the end of the terrace looking like the end of the world, just dropping off into the vast infinity of the beautiful hillside backdrop. I wish you could see the little barefoot baby boy who lives next door, and runs up and down the street, no shoes, coating himself in dust while he plays with sticks and rocks. I wish you could see my new little brothers, and their pride when they get to walk with me down the street.  I wish you could see the old woman who sits across the street every day, her face lined with deep wrinkles, and back hunched from years of life and hard work, shelling corn on the ground, and caring for great grandchildren. I wish you could see the six school children on the hill, who when they saw me coming, burst into choruses of songs they learned from my 10 minutes in their classroom. I wish you could see the determination in these peoples eyes, their strength, their power, and also their vast and endless love. I wish you could see the things here that have made me understand, even so slightly more, about the value of a life.

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