After three months of relative lethargy, today was as refreshing as a glass of neembu pani on a sticky summer day. Taraji was coming to Delhi, and we had arranged to pick her up. Alarm rings at 5:30, leave by 6 am. Well, that was the plan. After two snoozes and lots of mental scolding, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:50, and we rushed out by 6:15. Lucky for us, punctuality is not a strong suit for Indian trains. Our timing worked out beautifully
Jangpura is a stone's throw from the Nizammudin station. Neelam Mammi prepared a delicious breakfast of puri chole. As we ate, Taraji explained the role she envisioned for Nikhil and me. Eighteen kilometers from the city of Bhilwara is a village called Shreeji ka Kheda. For many generations, this village produced miners; it's what you did if you were male. Unfortunately, a contagious bout of tuberculosis inflicted these miners who worked in highly unsafe conditions. The area's doctor intentionally misdiagnosed the men. Hence, the population of this village is dominated by widows. Our job, as I see it, is to improve the quality of life in this community, be it through income-generation projects, computer training, basic education, etc. Taraji stressed the importance of acceptance in a world such as Shreeji ka Kheda: Dress like them, eat like them, live like them. Their problems will become your problems. And you will sleep each night, tired but happy. Her words stuck with me.
The next few hours are a blur. Drop Taraji at Kalkaji. Two hour drive back to Kirti Nagar. Trying to sleep amidst crazy honk-friendly drivers. "Short" nap ends up lasting two hours. Another painfully slow drive back to Kalkaji. Pick up Taraji, then back to Kirti Nagar. Kudos to Nikhil for patiently sloth-driving on the jammed streets of Delhi.
It's not the road we were on, but you get the idea
We dropped Taraji at the train station close to midnight. It had been raining throughout the evening. My shoes and salwar were drenched. Plus, I was ridiculously exhausted. And yet, I was content; proud of myself, I might even say (even though I didn't accomplish anything). As I plopped into bed, I couldn't help but think about what Taraji said. And you will sleep each night, tired but happy. I could get used to this.