Saturday, April 9

Circadian Rhythm

Setrawa is at least 400 years old but I imagine the same as always. Many of the first homes are still inhabited. The dessert is stubbornly the same: consistently limiting options for employment, diet, fashion, and architecture then and now. However, despite the monotony, my short experience in Setrawa suggests it is also an eventful place within its persistent rhythm.

Bathed in sunshine, every morning I wake up on the roof to the chaotic summoning shouts of my early rising parents. I am promptly served chai followed by breakfast and then a bucket of water for my shower.

As the daily heat builds, I follow the sandy path to Sambhali. The early afternoon is for instructing the girls of the untouchable caste in very basic English. If they do well or work hard, Sambhali will sponsor them to get a private school education.

We switch gears with a chai break. A student delivers a plastic bag of chai and a pack of 20-20 biscuits from the ancient shack on the corner. 20-20's are small cookies with the perfect balance of sweet and buttery. They are my vice and I am completely addicted.

The late afternoon classes are a joy to instruct. Usha (the Indian teacher) has the juniors, Jen and Mool Singh (the Indian principal) have the advanced girls, and I the intermediates. The girls are attentive and keen. We recently expanded to letting boys in and I find the one or two that show up each day are exploding with eagerness. We finish the lessons with prayers, empowerment activities, and recitation of the school rhymes. Their collective small voices speaking English with Hindi accents is tear-jerkingly adorable.

Afterwards, I walk back along the sandy path past four shops and a handful of homes. The residents spill out of their shops and homes onto their stoops in the cooling evening air. They greet me welcomingly and everyday I feel increasingly attached to them.

In front of my home there is always a small herd of children playing, be it make shift cricket or some other fancy game. I often tease them a little before heading in to greet the rest of the family. The teenage boys returning from the family shop in the market arrive home around the same time as me. Many cousins and customers are always gathered inside our home which functions as a minor shop to support the family business. I take my turn holding perpetually-content-baby Kushi and retire to my room or help with chores if I don't have any invites for chai. Eventually, stuffed with home cooking, I lay a blanket on the roof and fall asleep finding constellations.

A rhythmic routine flows undisrupted by changes; however, everyday is treated with some important development or other. Sunday saw my brother Santosh's last day in Setrawa. He's chasing a job three days train away in Bangalore. Without a week long wedding to send him off, he left his whole world, a place where the bus stop is considered far away, for a chaos he hasn't even sampled.

Monday saw the ferocious attack of two giant bees that stung Jen and Soonu, the latter who is still fighting off an anafelatic swelling of her hand. Tuesday was when the headman paid a visit to Sambhali. Today has only just begun and we have already lost our milk goat and found it. The rhythm persisted without the goat as  chai was made from water (tasting good enough to rival Jesus' miraculous wine conversion). When the goat was found, fur matted with bristles, the milk was harvested for a second celebratory pot of chai.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're doing well, Amelia. It will likely be a shocker when you come home and experience once again how we all live here. I love how you describe the children and their eagerness to learn. You are very lucky to be doing what you're doing!!! Enjoy!!! Hope you and Jen stay safe and healthy.

    Chris W