Tag: #happyplace

No Place like Love

We meet Mangula* in a little town outside Bangalore….where exactly is she from? Half Kannada, Telugu, Tamil…she doesn’t know. How many people groups are we in this busy Peninsula India? At least 70, I hear .

I get permission to tell her story, take her picture. Mangula is thrilled, unashamed, why should she be? She’s done nothing wrong, only given good in return for the trouble she’s received. A feisty, 64ish (maybe), you never know, she could be much older or younger:

M. is General dishwasher at the home here where we’ve been these past 10 days;

…is also garden lizard/ squirrel Chaser, Chef, Masseur. (Ahm, snake killer too if the occasion so arises). Will sing along with any song you are singing, in monotonous hum. Origin? Hard to say. Telangana, Kannadiga... she speaks a marinated form of sub languages, but her story is beyond my head. (Retold with permission). Maybe I should just call her Mingu….?

Has two surviving children:

one of whom is her daughter Aasha who died young after a life of abuse from a man outside her community. The runaway marriage ended in him asking Aasha to go to the city looking for a ‘well paying job.’….which was a round of hotels and nightlife that left Aasha with a HIV+ baby girl. Husband now gets himself a new wife, while also occasionally thrashing some pocket money out of mum-in-law Mingu. And I mean thrashing. Ming’s daughter Aasha didn’t live beyond that monsoon when she fell seriously ill….

Mingu tells me this as she carefully pours eucalyptus oil in my shoulder blades last evening; the massage is welcome. She has the fingers of God for achy sinews. Her speech can get coloured with words for the bad men in her life, for her husband who brought home another wife, and Mingu had to leave with her then infant. Recently the old man died and she had to ‘pay her respects’ ... in a 3 day ceremony, with 2 other ex wives. The 3 widows dressed as brides were given a turmeric bath, (wore red glass bangles that were systematically broken), then a river bath in which she near got drowned, following which she caught a lung full of cold….

She pauses mid-eucalyptus massage, I’m feeling so much better for the treatment but cannot understand how she gets through the day…

her silence is heavy, is she crying? M’s skin is like hardened leather, the voice soft with cares. There’s a grand daughter, Simi…..

every month Mingu gets tablets for the girl Simi, from a Centre 30 kms away on a bus that costs her Rs 300/- to and fro. Simi is 16, tall, with dark knowing eyes and a mouth that can spin tales, fight like a cat- you know she’s had it rough. Step mom hates her….

…grand daughter here is a wild one, looks 25. Long story-

last month she got married to an 18 ish year old from nearby village, and he swears to love her to his dying day. His ‘awful Ma who demands a dowry‘ doesn’t know about the Simi’s HIV+ ness. He works in a factory, has a Cycle and ‘Quarters’ to live in.

Ming is pleased at her grand-son-in-laws’ ways. He now has a small house near a local church, with music all day coming in through their window.

It is a treat to listen to the woman, her tears and soft rage, her gratitude to a God she hasn’t seen, and her zest for life.

Last night as we watched Romedy Now.…it went to midnight, Mingu in a head scarf; we hugged/wished each other Happy Valentine’s as families do. Ming grinned with all her white teeth, she hadn’t a clue what/ who Val was/is…..

and I’m a little guilty at being so smug in even saying/ wondering what Ming thought of the word, Love. How could I translate the word ‘Beloved‘ to her; ‘Love’ was, is only what others gave her, give her.

This is another post I’m unsure how to finish, or why I titled it the way I did. Women like this one, they might live a life thick with details they can’t really say, but they have my respect.

….

*Names have been changed.

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Little chapel in Monmouthshire

Do you have a happy place? A place you return to now and again sometimes for no reason, or when you do have a reason. I have a few like maybe you do too. This one below is almost exactly like the one I went to, eons ago, on a hill next to a forsaken lighthouse. It had lilies though, and a brick path with fallen out gate, I’d wait to hop over it and onto wild bush of Touch-me -nots.

Thankyou for Photograph, Yomargey UK

The sheer smallness of the chapel was magnified by the amount of light falling in it, through it, it lit up chinks in the woodwork, so when you looked at it from the outside it was like a small house on fire. Emotional, some would say. But I’ve grown past mere emoticons. There was a Stillness in there that got into me. It defied, and still defies human conditions for joy. It stilled my father’s bad temper at being pulled out of bed to be on time for service 7 am. My Ma was the prettiest warrior I ever saw; when she sang the sun shone specially on her, her curls lit up with fire and faith in the God who taught her how to bring up us three girls all on her own with dad away on postings all over India. She taught us how to be Indian traditionals, yet free of false humility, how she did that I do not know.

when I return to the memory of that first chapel ever, I’m reminded of how small I am in the vastness of an era I do not understand. I’m reminded of fearlessness, of the brilliance of Light as It un-hides the dark- exposing areas in my life that needn’t be subject to human frailty. And I love how freeing that is, to lean on Light and feel Its’ pressure on my skin, on my senses even, and on my human spirit so frighteningly prone to Self-reliance. Which in itself is a good thing. And some days, the human spirit wants to lean on a Thing bigger than us. No matter the fuss and kick at higher strength, humans like/want/need the Infinite whether in affairs of mathematics or promises. We need the falling in love then the expectation of that Significant Other who needs be that Leaner-On. Some of us need a Festival, a Shopping Mall, Online heroes, or Plates of This and That. We go low, then high on things that will transform us via vein, brain.

Today I’m leaning on the One that found me in Unexpected Places, else I’d not have noticed Him. Else I’d have been suspicious of too much goodness, or Structure based mementoes that Transform our inner spaces irrespective of life as is visual, aural, tactile….