02 March 2008

We're Hungry - Another conversation With Ciru

Mostly, this is crossposted from sometimes - 2, but I wanted to add this little note.

I thought this post would both amuse and inform you. For example, did you know our men are scary because they look fierce? I always thought they just looked handsome and masculine! And am I really 'a little bit scary'?

Ah, well, read on!

Yesterday, great good news! Today, that is tempered with the continuing reality of survival.

Aecond conversation with Ciru. Here's the first.

Last night, we spoke to our sister, Ciru, near Nairobi.

'Oh, Mai, it is so wonderful. The killing has stopped. People don't really want to hate each other.'

She was really happy, overjoyed, but I heard something in her voice.

'What's wrong, dear? I can hear that something still is wrong with you. How is your leg?' She had had a blood clot in one leg and it had been healed, but she still had pain and weakness there.

With enthusiasm, but a little forced-sounding. 'The leg is fine. I think it's completely healed!'

A sudden brainstorm! Mai is hit with lightening! 'Ciru, do you have enough food?'

A moment of silence. Then. 'No, we don't have food. There isn't much to begin with and it's so expensive. We're hungry.'

I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. We will, of course, wire money to her, but why hasn't our son, the aeronautical engineer, seen to her needs? They have money. Surely the situation isn't so bad that he can't help his aunt. We need to call him to get her food immediately!

'Oh, Ciru, we'll get you money for food? If you have money, food is there to be bought?'

'Not very much and it's so expensive, what little there is.'

'Can your church help?'

'They're filled up with displaced people. Wives and husbands and children all separated and looking for each other. I don't know if we'll ever get it all straightened out. But at least the killing has stopped.'

'You know, the stores were burnt and the crops were stolen or even burnt and the rains haven't come. We're still waiting for the rains.'

'So drought on top of everything else?'


'Darling, find the nearest gurdwara (Sikh temple). We have a tradition called langar. Anyone who shows up can eat. As long as there's any food at all, you will be able to eat there.'

'I'm a Christian, not a Sikh. You know that! I don't want to change. And Sikhs are scary.'

'Doesn't matter that you're a Christian. No one will care about that. And you won't be preached to. No one will try to convert you, I promise. And I'm a Sikh. Am I scary?'

A little giggle. 'Only a little bit.' (I'm a little bit scary? I'll have to explore that sometime. But not now.) 'Are you sure they won't try to convert me?'

'Yes. One hundred percent positive sure. Just you don't try to convert anybody, OK?'

'OK. The men are scary. They're so big and hairy and fierce-looking. Are they really safe? Are you sure?'

I admit to being a bit annoyed by this. 'Of course they are. I guarantee. If not they'd have to answer to me.'

She bursts out laughing. 'I'm sure no one would want to have to answer to you! I bet even the men are scared of you.' (What is this about me being scary? Now I know we have to straighten this out!) 'OK, I know where one is. I'll go there. Oh, how do I need to dress?'

"Just dress normally, but be sure you can sit on the floor. You might put a scarf on your head.'

We continued talking for some time. It was good to hear her sounding like herself again, joking a bit about how she needs to sprout wings and fly over here to be with us. She still wants us to go there to see her beautiful country, too. We do love our homes, don't we? I know I have been feeling a strong urge to visit Punjab (O. K.) recently, but that's the subject for another post.

If you'd like to contribute to the people of Kenya, I suggest you donate to the Kenyan Red Cross. You can do it here, right on the Net, at donations to Kenya Red Cross. So many times, I have heard, 'But I'm just one person, what can I do?' Well, here's a chance. These are real people, not abstractions from a news article or clip, and they need your help.

Pictures: I have purposely left out the pictures of the starving African children. We have all seen too many of those, haven't we? After a time, we just quit looking. So I have posted pictures of a langar hall in use, a plate of food you might get at a langar (it looks so good!) , some organic producee grown in Kenya, the bust of a beautiful African woman, and a photograph of a beautiful modern Kenyan woman, Essy Wambui, a graphic artist. Follow the link to learn more about her.