Leaving Time

by Joanna D.

Bit of anxiety on the inside… just the idea of stepping off a plane in the USA. Don’t really want to do it. No more classical Indian music every morning on my way to class. Or any time of day. No more random Wednesday night pujas with elephants and fireworks. No more drum processions and illuminated statues of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha passing in front of my house. No more garlands of fresh jasmine buds or frangipani blossoms or sandalwood bindis or ghee lamps. India. I can’t believe this trip has come to a close.

Some of this anxiety comes from the crushing reality that I am going to have to find a job and a place to live fairly quickly but mostly… I just don’t want to go home. I ended up at the Trivandrum airport much earlier than I needed to. Three hours early. Good lesson in military time. Thoughts of bolting out the door, grabbing the nearest taxi back to Kovalam and sending a letter to my family saying I’m not going back.

Not more than four words were spoken on the way to the airport. Binu, my driver, my bodyguard, my friend was driving me. He had been with me all day. Grew quite fond of that man during my stay. Normally there would be chatting and laughing and talk of fish curry. Not this trip. Silently driving through the city. Life. Passing cows, dogs, the occasional chicken; floating plastic bags among the usual ground rubbish peppered with beautiful trees, flowers and interesting random items. Piles of wooden doors and windows, concrete tubes, tires, repair shops, people napping. Boys playing cricket – men at the corner tea stall enjoying their chai, and of course, a festival… one of the largest I had seen so far. 150,000 women lined the streets making rice in tin pots over open fires in offering for temples throughout the city. Just that morning we passed through it on a motorbike. Straight into the heart of it. The whole scene. So many beautiful women, beautiful people… an incredibly indescribable feeling.

It was like I was trying to make things slow down; as if backing up in my seat would put on the breaks. I’m not ready to go. The moment my feet left the rickshaw a lump formed in my throat; the thick kind that make it hard to talk. Binu unpacked my excessively heavy luggage out of the back seat and onto a cart. I wanted to say something awesome or squeeze him or something. Instead, we shook hands, said “see you later” and after one last wave, a mournful half grin as he drove away, he was gone. Heavy legs in utter protest carried me inside.

Even though excitement for adventures in Philadelphia is off the charts, no question, sitting there in the Trivandrum airport my heart was breaking.

So many blessings on this trip. My teacher encouraged me, taught me, to see the beauty in myself. And believe in it. My body regained strength and power, fire. My heart caught a mighty gust of relief and I made some truly beautiful friends. Epic. It’s no wonder I would have a hard time leaving.