I walk the same way to work everyday. Out my door, take a left and then a right winding my way past my friend who makes Chai tea. This woman who graces me with her smiles coming and going and has offered to kick a little butt when I am being followed. Down the alley a bit, to the sweet old man who always say’s”good morning” and “goodnight” but never at the right time of day. Past the man who sells fish and sometimes curiously and shyly inquires why I am coming or going. Into the red light area, where sometimes on some days, I pass some hero’s on their way to Freeset (a freedom Business), who greet me with smiles and an occasional accusation as to why I am not yet married. I go farther along, past some jewelry and sundries shops, past an idol, past groups of men sitting in chairs idylling the morning or evening away. As I enter the main lane, busy with men, always busy with men, I meet the eyes of every girl I know, chat a little, and try to meet the eyes of those I do not know with a smile. Sometimes I get a smile back and it feels like it might be a good day. Sometimes the girls who are working farther down the line call after me and scold me for not stopping if I happen to be in a hurry and there is no hurrying past. Some of them know my name and some of them just call me by the name of whatever friend they can remember, Puja or Moussumi. If I do not come by or have been out of town, they all notice and ask where I have been and even if it has only been a few days, they ask if I went to my country. I turn left walking past the some of the youngest, freshest faces working the line, toward Sari Bari. Still a ways to go, passing another idol, maybe a caudron of something cooking in a vat for some puja I do not know about. Men line the lane. Shopkeepers nod. Children zig and zag in slow motion across my path competing with the street dogs for dominance. To the left a circle of women gather water, filling their jugs for the day, chatting, gossips, observing everything and a little ways over men bathing on the road nearby. This lane is so dirty, always muddy. Walking past some madams nodding, smiling, past the open cesspool of urine and trash on the corner winding my way, holding my breath. Deeper in now, I chat with more women I know, begging some of the scary madam to smile back at me, willing it. Looking for an invitation to speak. Sometimes, women from Sari Bari who live in this lane, pull me in to their rooms for tea and breakfast. Sometimes, it’s a race to see who will get to the door of the office first or out the door first depending on the time of day. Walking past another trash dump, greeting more women already waiting for customers in the morning at 10am and going home in the evening more women out than before, weariness from the day already drawing down their faces. And then up the stairs into Sari Bari, past the potted plants, where the guys are cutting bags, and the air rings with greetings. The floor is full of stuff, beautiful stuff, blankets in the making and the scraps of every type of sari and color imaginable. This is the tale of my daily comings and goings. It is the way that I walk from home to home and back again. And I say that someday this walk through these lanes into the beautiful space of Sari Bari will bear much fruit. At least that is what I dream.
One thought on “The way I walk…”
It is bearing fruit Sarah! Look at the precious ladies in your charge in 6 years…remember, “1 person at a time.” You do what you can, the rest is up to God. 🙂