Friday, July 29
Today has been such a great day!
First, we went to the weekly children's church, where the kids never fail to make me laugh and the songs are so fun to clap along to and join in the motions on. I am especially amused by one little girl, who is probably a little less than two, who comes to everything. This little one seems to be fascinated by me and Erika and stares at us constantly. But she seems to be a tad afraid of our strange appearance. One week, she was running across the room behind all the other kids from her brother to someone else (she pretty much wanders around all the time, never sitting still for very long, even during church), but when she looked up and realized that she was going to have to run in front of the two of us, she stopped in her tracks, paused for a second with just the faintest hint of concern on her face, then turned right back around and ran back to the safety of her brother's lap, from which protected area she peered gravely over at us in silence. I got to hold her in my lap today though!....for all of about 30 seconds before she was clambering down, steadfastedly avoiding looking at me the whole time.
Next, we got to go back to the safe house for young girls that we visited last Friday. This time, instead of 100 skeins of embroidery thread, we arrived with copies of a couple of group photos for all the girls and a couple of ideas for their Dream Books. First, we had them draw a picture that showed what they wanted to do or be when they grew up - some of the girls show a fair amount of artistics talent, although some are a little more meticulous than others, and turned out some beautiful pages showing themselves as artists, judges, teachers, social workers, and even business women. A few of the younger ones really weren't sure what they were doing or what they even wanted to be, so I ended up helping a couple of them draw boats and palm trees...who knows, maybe some day they'll own a shipping business? Then before we ran out of time before lunch, we had the girls all paste the pictures we brought from our friendship bracelet extravaganza the week before onto a second page, and they promised to finish decorating the pages later with stamps and stickers that will spell out what friendship means to them.
We left the girls to enjoy some time with their mothers, who had come for their regular visiting time, and went next door to Auntie Rosemary's house to eat lunch. She served us a delicious lunch of rice (of a finer quality than normal and usually reserved for special occassions and guests), mixed vegetables (potato, onion, green beans, pumpkin, and some other things I can't name that had all been sauteed together), and curried chicken, then she put us in the bedroom (the one room with air conditioning) to rest. Soon, she brought us in some ice cream with fresh mango, then left us to take a nap, so graciously leaving us her own bedroom while she and her husband rested on the guestbed in the living room. Around 3:30, Erika and I thought it might be best not to impose any longer on Auntie and her husband, but when we went out to say goodbye, she asked us to wait a few minutes for tea. So over tea, we discussed a list of further ideas for the girls' Dream Books, which discussion turned into me typing the list out for her on her laptop, which turned into her showing us pictures of her two daughters who aren't in Bangladesh (Shompa, the oldest, lives in the flat below with her family) and their families, which then turned into us showing her a few pictures of our own. About 5, we were moving towards leaving again, then asked Auntie if we could take a picture with her first since we were leaving Khulna soon. So she went downstairs and got her daughter to come take pictures for us, and then we ended up taking a ton of photos because we each had our own camera (three in total), and we tried a couple of different backgrounds, repeating it all a second time because Shompa wanted to switch places with her mother and get some pictures of herself with me and Erika. About 5:30, ladies started showing up for a meeting with Auntie, so were going to head out, but Shompa invited us downstairs to her family's apartment to have another cup of tea first.
So we moved downstairs, where we were installed in the sitting room, and soon her husband came out to meet us. After a little bit of that initial awkwardness that nearly always comes when just meeting someone, the four of us were chatting about a range of topics, the conversation becoming even more open over tea and freshly made fries accompanied by a tangy chili sauce. Both Shompa and her husband were really fun to talk with - they both were obviously educated and knowledgeable about the happenings in the world and had an easy way of maintaining the flow of conversation, something I myself need to work on. We were all enjoying ourselves, and before we knew it, it was 7 o'clock, Auntie showed up because her meeting was over, and Erika and I were finally put into a rickshaw to head home, leaving them enough time to do their weekly grocery shopping before dinner, which most Bengalis eat around 9 or 10.
As the two of us closed the door to our room, we both agreed that it had been a truly lovely day.