“This is a very dangerous area,” says the driver, “can not drive through here after six o’clock.”
RJ looks at his watch.
Staying in India is an odd experience for an outsider. The constant noise of traffic, the animals on the streets and the rubbish are all so different to things back home. Yet, these elements blanket the real experience. It’s only after a few days, when these things become normal, that this blanket is lifted. These distractions are not the real experiences India has to offer.
“So, you like living in Australia?”
RJ puts down his Indian style coffee, which is small and very sweet.
“Yeah, it’s not bad.”
The host nods his head.
“How is the electricity?”
All complaints about RJ’s home vanished in an instant. It’s too far from the city, the train station is a 10 minute drive away, the people are too nice and always wave, the cafe shuts at 5:00, the birds at the lake always swoop people… all gone.
Looking up at the single lightbulb on the roof and its wiring running down the wall and into the another room, RJ answers the host.
“It’s… it’s pretty good… can’t complain…”
The host nods… his eyes wandering in deep thought…
On the last visit to the slum, RJ exchanges smiles with familiar faces. Faces that he never knew, but now, can never forget.
We see ourselves in the eyes of each other. The People in the slums suffer in silence, while the rest of the world tweets their emotions on a global scale.
He opens the door to the van, but as he does two small slum kids run up to him and touch his feet. Pranāma.
The blanket is lifted.
For one reason or another, RJ felt that he should be the one to touch their feet. Not the other way around. They were the ones who opened his eyes and they were the ones he respected.
The van travels in the dark down the forbidden road. The small hands that touched RJ’s feet keep a tight grip on his heart.
Small and very sweet.
“This is a very dangerous area,” says the driver…
– By Randall Evans.