Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tis better to give...

My mom has a soft heart. She can't pass those in need without giving something. For days after a child had come up to her asking for a notebook for school, she fretted over the fact she hadn't yet changed her money into Nepalese Rupee in order to purchase one for him. Seeing children who create make-shift hacky sacks with bundled up vines, with dirty little faces and clothes bearing holes gave added initiative to have something on hand to offer at a moments notice. Our guide advised her against it. 'Once you hand something to one, the whole village will surround you,' he warned.

She didn't care.

After a 10k mountain trek we reached a tiny, secluded, village. Greeting us were a handful of young children, playing with wooden sticks. Immediately my mom rummaged through her purse and pulled out a pack of gum. Within milliseconds of handing one child a piece, she was surrounded on all sides by 20 little hands reaching for one.

"No! Down! Stay!" she commanded, as if they understood.

"They're not dogs, mom," I reminded her.

One by one each child would back off, happily grinning with a mouth full of gum.

Later that afternoon, back in Bandipur, she bought two packages of pencils after receiving that request by a few children. We took a stroll outside of the village to an area we hadn't been yet. Brightly colored houses dotted unpaved roads that curved around lush rolling hills.

A young boy appeared in front of us. My mom got his attention and handed him a pencil. His eyes lit up.

"Kalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!" he screamed while running through the streets. "KALAM! PENCIL! I HAVE A PENCIL!"

He waved the pencil in the air as he ran. Children ran out of houses and up the streets to meet him.

"KALAM!" he happily exclaimed, while showing it to the group. Their eyes widened to match his. He then pointed to my mom.

In unison their heads shifted from him to my mom. She was surrounded in an instant. Each were given their own pencil, but some asked for another.

"No," my mom said, "you already have one."

We continued on our way, with most children returning from where they came. All but two that is. A young boy and girl tagged behind us at a distance.

"Kaaaaalam, Kaaaaalam, Kaaaaalam," they chanted.

"You already have one," my mom would occasionally call back.

The road continued forward for as far as our eyes could see. The only way back to the village was to turn around. There was no other way.  Our hesitancy grew each step we took, for fear of running into a mob. A child ambush seemed a more frightening fate than being lost in the wilds of Nepal.

"Kaaaaalam, Kaaaalam, Kaaaaalam," the two young children continued to chant.

A group of teenaged boys appeared on the street in front of us.

"Kalam!" the little boy shouted. "Kalam!" the little girl echoed. They rushed to my mom as they saw her pull out the box of pencils for the teenagers, who had just surrounded her.

"Wait, wait," she yelled, holding the box high above her. "Who speaks English?"

One boy raised his hand.

"Tell them they already have a pencil. No more," she requested.

He did, and pushed them away for added effect.


Donna Bardsley said...

That's hilarious. I will keep it in mind in Morocco.

Patti said...

As much of a ruckus as it caused I say good for you mom!