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El albergue

El albergue

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Auntie Teresa

Of the seven ladies on staff at the NGO I'm helping out with here, there is one in particular that will always stand out in my mind.  They've all been extremely open and friendly with us two white girls ignorant of Bangla, greeting us with smiles every morning and chattering away at us as we confusedly try to muddle through what they're saying (well, Ruth speaks very good English, so we generally have no problem understanding her), but Auntie Teresa will forever have her own special place in my memories of my time here.  Why?  Well let me tell you a little bit about her.  The oldest of the group (I think), she reminds me of an incredibly sweet grandmother, and yet she's practically the spryest and funniest of the whole group too.  She knows a little bit of English, so sometimes we have little conversations of sorts, although not a whole lot is effectively communicated all the time.  For example, the other day I was trying to ask her if she was going to take us to go print some pictures because Ruth was gone and I thought she had said we'd go with Auntie, but every time I'd try to formulate my question in both English and a mut mixture of English and Bangla, her eyes would light up and she'd reply with something like "Ah yes, Auntie Dolly's house is near mine.  I have three sons; my husband died three years ago." As I kept trying to rephrase my question, she realized that she didn't quite understand what I was attempting to ask, so we just ended up laughing and tossing up our hands in a playful half-shrug.  She's very thorough too, very.  For instance, the two times my pants ripped, she's been the one to sew them back up for me, informing me with a grave little shake of the head that I purchased clothes of very bad quality (which is true, since I'm only here for 6 weeks) as she inspects every inch of seam for potential future tears and runs nearly all of those inches through the sewing machine.  One of my favourite episodes with her though was just two days ago.  While the ladies were out on their lunch breaks and I had the work room all to myself, I decided to do some stretching.  I was near the end of my little repertoire of stretches - I was on the floor with one ankle crossed over the other knee, and that kknee drawn to my chest to streetch the outer hip, when Auntie Teresa walked in.  She observed me for a minute, then with a big grin on her face, she sat down next to me and attempted the same pose.  Pretty soon she was practically rolling on the floor, although I'm not sure whether this had more to do with the fact that she couldn't quite bend herself into position or that she was laughing hysterically.  Later, when all the ladies were back, she even tried to get them all to do the stretch, getting the whole group laughing at themselves and each other.  One last testimony of her fun-loving nature is a wedding video we watched at someone's house when they invited us over for lunch - in almost every shot of Auntie Teresa, she's dancing up a storm, even when no one else is dancing!  But that seems exaclty like her sweet, fun self, always in step with some happy melody that the rest of us just aren't lucky enough to hear.

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