Chandrika took this photograph when she first came to us in 1999 – we were in the car and would have been going to or from school probably. I think she brings out the best in me. I know for sure that when she arrived I was not very physically fit. The most prominent reason for that was I had survived a bout of Babeseosis and it took months to recover my self. Four of us on the Vineyard had come down with it that year and two had died, both had their spleens removed – keep your spleens! The other thing was that she would throw herself at me – she was a small, dense kid – and nearly knocked me over. I started working out!
And I started cooking more! Curry in the morning, curry in the evening, curry in the lunch box! She would look at a chicken and lick her lips, she was that hungry. For my two older children an appropriate snack had been peanut butter or some other “American” thing. No peanut butter for her – only hot food. No cereal, toast was not food, nothing easy. Curried chicken. Curried chickpeas, curried lentils. Curried chicken. You think I’m repeating myself here – you should have seen my kitchen! In order to make it interesting for me I had a shelf full of different curries and all the parts of curry so I could put them together in variation. I learned endless ways to add curry. And no, it didn’t work with the peanut butter!
Here’s the picture I took of her that same day.
Here’s the group who met her at the airport and were always available to us. Not everyone was able to be there and we picked up quite a few more as Paula and I and then Bimala went along our journey.
I learned long ago that when I open my heart I lose some control, which I can equate with instability. But sealing myself off from anything doesn’t bring in the cozy platform of life I thought it was supposed to! So when Chandrika came and then Bimala, just like all the children and animals that had preceded them and came after them, I found my heart getting bigger and bigger. I learned how love can go on and on, keep including all manner and variety of things and Beings – always – just like curry, very like curry.