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Running away from Home

Greenpeace forgive me!

NEPAL | Friday, 26 February 2010 | Views [589]

Last night the water was restored to the village, but this morning it is off again. I groan as I think of my unwashed hair and clothes. I really didn’t want to have to go all the way to Pokhara to take a bath. Then I thought of the river. We passed a beautiful mountain river on the way to Damdame, and I know that the eco-police would be all over me if I were to wash my togs with detergent in a river, but just the once wouldn’t hurt. I’ll pick up some trash around the schoolyard later or something to make up for it, but I need some clean clothes. Bohini thinks that this is a wonderful idea and we agree to go after the morning session at the library.

By the time I get back from the library, the water has been once again restored. I told Bohini that now, we don’t have to go to the river to do laundry. She looked so disappointed when I told her that. I don’t think that they let her out of the yard very much. Well, if Bohini, who has been so kind and so thoughtful to me during my stay in Damdame, wants to go wash clothes in the river, then I will take the heat from the eco-police. I noticed that in my absence, Aamaa has started a fresh batch of millet wine. The distilling process had produced several buckets of hot water. “Can I use those for a bath?” I asked Bohini. I could see that she was anxious to go to the river, but I was even more anxious to have a hot bath. The two women didn’t seem to understand why I wanted hot water for bathing, but I was a guest so they let me have it. What a LUXURY! I scrubbed. I shaved. I rinsed repeatedly because now there was water and I could be just a little wasteful. I smelled a little bit like hooch when I was finished, but otherwise I felt like a million bucks.

I didn’t have to worry about being back at the school or library again because on Fridays the students only go to school for half the day. Saturday is completely off and then they go back to a full schedule from Sunday to Thursday. Besides, I don’t think that I am going to be allowed to teach again. We set out for the river, and I was going to have the novel experience of beating my clothes out on a rock. I could hear the river long before I could see it and the sound of the clear water gurgling over smooth river stones soothed me. I tried to make the entire experience as eco-conscious as possible, but Bohini seemed unconcerned. Maybe someday I can come back and do another project that educates people in clean environment practices instead of teaching English. Bohini and I chatted as we walked back to the village. Her English is pretty good. She was a college student before she got married a year ago, and I imagine she did fairly well. We didn’t have much to talk about, but I could tell that she wasn’t anxious to get back to the village.

The neighbor lady had gone to Pokhara for a few days, but now she was back. Her face is brown and lined, like Aamaa’s. Only, Aamaa’s face has permanent laugh and smile lines, where the neighbor’s face is fixed in a permanent sneer. I am enjoying the lazy afternoon after hanging up my wash, and I indulge in a big stretch. This shows the scars that run on the insides of my arms from the elbow joint to the armpit. The neighbor lady had noticed them before but now she wanted an explanation. I tried to tell them in the simplest of terms that I had been obese and after I lost my weight I had my skin trimmed down to fit me better. They all wanted to know how much weight. I told them, and it didn’t surprise me how shocked they were considering how much of a luxury gluttony is. Bhai asked if I was okay now. I said just fine and I thought that the subject was dropped, but she came back around during dinner time. She sat alongside the family while they watched me eat and then rehashed the story I told this afternoon to the father. He didn’t believe her, but she pointed to her upper arms and then pointed at me. The entire family stared at me while I ate my generous portion of daal bhat. Was I taking too much? Was someone doing without because of me? I was so humiliated.

Tags: homestay, nepal, village, volunteering

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