Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I See It In Your Eyes...


I can finally say that I am slowly becoming accustomed to life in Kolkata. The heat doesn't affect me as much as It used to and I've becomed "numb" to the sights and smells that are part of everyday life in the city. This past Saturday, after spending an awesome morning at Daya Dan with Rama and the other children, I decided to volunteer at Kalighat, the home of the sick and the dying. Kirsten and I, along with three other volunteers, Fabio, Joaquin, and Izzy met up at 2:30 and took an auto-rickshaw to a spot where the rickshaw could no longer go. In order to get to Kalighat from where we were dropped off, we had to walk through a slum. Walking through a slum was something I was not expecting to do here in India. Walking through as little boys and girls played with the street dogs, their parents curiously watching us from their makeshift homes and toddlers running around naked is haunting and surreal. After a ten minute walk we arrived at the front gates.

Upon entering Kalighat, I was immediately asked to help clean and clothe three men that had soiled themselves. I had no time to process what was about to happen, what I was about to do, I was nervous of doing it alone. I thought to myself "It's my first day here, my first few moments here, and the Sisters expect me to do this the right way?" Luckily for me Joaquin had volunteered at Kalighat before and decided to help me with the task. We entered the dimly lit room and walked past the rows of beds to the corner where the three men were waiting for us. We began to clean and clothe them and before I knew it, it was done. One of my "fears" I guess you could say, about going to Kalighat was to be put in a situation where I was required to clean someone who had soiled themselves. It's not that I am easily grossed out, because I am not, but I guess it was the action of actually doing it. It's hard to disconnect yourself from everything around you and simply do such a difficult task, it is surely easier said than done. However, I found a way to somehow pull through it do what was asked of me. Needless to say, it felt good knowing that I had conquered one of my small fears about Kalighat.

Shortly after, A man asked me to take him around the compound, he was in a wheelchair and had no movement in his body. I sat next to him after about ten minutes of me taking him around the garden. I introduced myself, and tried to get him to talk and tell me his name. He looked at me right in the eyes and my heart sunk. I had seen similar eyes before. The sadness, desperation and frustration that I saw in his eyes were the same emotions I had seen in my uncles eyes about four years earlier. My uncle George had been a victim of ALS, a horrible disease that slowly kills all muscle activity in the body, ultimately leading in death after the lungs, heart and diaphragm are unable to properly function. I saw how badly the man wanted to communicate with me, but for some reason couldn't. I knew he was frustrated, I knew he was upset and seeing that in his eyes broke my heart as I remembered the numerous times my uncle had grown frustrated with himself, my mother, grandmother, and myself for not being able to understand him. I grabbed his hand as my eyes began to fill with tears and told him it was fine and that everything was going to be okay. I prayed silently in my head as I held his hands, and smiled at him when I opened my eyes. I continued to take him around the compound for about twenty minutes after that. It was hard for me not to see my uncle in this man, I couldn't help but to think of the numerous times I had to wheel my uncle around places, or the times when I had to help my grandmother feed or change him. It was hard keeping all my emotions in but I had to be strong for all the men at Kalighat. I was there to serve and do my best, and knowing that my uncle would be proud of what I was doing, I pulled through the afternoon and was able to successfully complete my first day at Kalighat, something I was unsure of in the beginning.

Take care,


1 comment:

  1. Hey group! I hope you have a great safe trip! please if you can say hi from Derek to Brother Xavier and Dream!