A Distant Memory
Sitting in my rickshaw, I feel a tap on my leg. I look up to a wide-eyed 6-year-old boy holding 10 long blue pens. I instantly shake my head and explain that I do not have cash with me. To no avail, he persists. I glance over to Cat and Cam for advice, but there is nothing they can do.
At 6-years-old, I was learning how to ride a bike. I was starting kindergarten. I was losing my first teeth. I was making my first friends, and I was learning how to read. At 6 years-old, all I thought about was myself.
Although a child begging during a commute should alarm me, after three months of being here, I’ve become immune to it. And yet, somehow this boy caught my attention.
Is it because of the guilt that I will soon be returning and crawling right back into the bubble I came from? I will have opportunities that many people work their whole lives for, yet never are provided with. Pretty soon, I will habituate back into my everyday lifestyle. The stories I learned from students, teachers, and headmasters will soon become a distant memory. I dread this day, and attempt to find any way to hold onto my memories. I glance through my journal and am reminded of the schools in which teachers are required to pay a portion of their salary to provide drinking water for their students. I turn to the next page which evokes a memory of a school in which students are sent home when they need to use the restroom because the school does not receive enough water for their bathrooms. I realize my sudden empathy for the 6-year-old boy must be a result of my approaching departure date. In the past few days, I have spent far too long trying to find souvenirs or tangible objects that will somehow ingrain these experiences into my mind. However, I have been completely unsuccessful. No single item I buy will reflect the wonders of India; I know I cannot commodify the experiences I have had, but I hope I figure out a way to keep them with me.