There were some very fun moments today, and I'd like to list them first:
- Seeing even MORE dragonflies
- Seeing fireflies (they're faster here in India than in America)
- Getting a lecture about why I shouldn't eat chocolate from my friend, Mari (she helped me with the saree on day four)
- Showing Mari pictures of my family
- Buying that chocolate
- Killing a bug that was biting me (I don't care if the ant is sacred...also, I will never forget bugspray again)
- Finding lychee juice at the grocery store
Day Six differed from other days because it was Parents Day. Parents Day is the day when the parents of the students come to pick up their children for the break. There was a mix of feelings: excitement, anticipation, joy, exhaustion, sadness, and concern. I didn't really understand these last two feelings. In my very American memory, almost everyone is excited for school to break. I thought that perhaps it was different because the kids live here. It is like another family, and so they are sad to see each other leave. However, as I chatted with the principal, I realized that it was more than this. Some of these students may not come back after the break. Some of their parents won't let them, and they will convince them to stay at home. They will do this, because they can make more money begging when they have children with them. This is one of the burdens that these children carry. My hope is that all of these children will come back--clean, clothed, and happy, not burdened, from the time they spent with their parents.
Because I didn't need to teach, I was able to go into town when Vel (one of the drivers) drove the teachers to their stops. Todd and Cameron (the two guys that are volunteering here for the school) also came with us. We ended up going to Chengalpattu. It was so fun to see other parts of India. The roads are horrible. The stores are tiny and open. We went to the More store. It has some Western foods, and I spent almost a thousand rupees (that's less than $23, but alot here)! We stopped and got purottas (sp?) on the way home. I haven't been full since I arrived in India, but two purottas and an omelet (an egg with onions) were more than enough to fill me up. I was stuffed! My whole meal cost 19 ruppees--that's less than $.50. And I was full! Crazy!
After we got back, I took a moment to rest, and then Todd, Cameron, Celina, and I went over to the house of one of the school workers. Her name is Anjali. Her baby girl, Saranya, died last week (right before I arrived), and we were going for the memorial service. After we arrived, we realized that we were expected to participate as honored guests. It was heart-wrenching to watch this young couple say goodbye to Saranya. Their other child (one of our 1st Standard students) was there. I sang. Celina prayed and gave a message. Cameron prayed. Arthur John (an Indian Evangelist, and the house father at the school) translated and gave a sermon. It was all very beautiful and humbling. We had the unique opportunity of not only going into Anjali and Gajendran's home, but also of participating in this very special and sacred service. After, they wouldn't let us leave until we ate a treat. I don't know what I did to deserve to be honored with a treat by this beautiful family, but I am so grateful that I was there. And I am also grateful to be able to work with their other beautiful daughter.
After the service, we went back to our rooms. Cameron and I had promised Arthur John that we would come over to play the drum. So, we grabbed a bit of dinner (the cook made us french fries!!!) and went over to Arthur John's room. Kartek, the son of one of the drivers, was also there. It was so much fun! Arthur John is very talented! After we had drummed for awhile, we started to share some of our favorite hymns (Arthur John sometimes attends the LDS church in Chennai). It was so peaceful to sit in this little room, singing hymns on this silent evening. I hope we do it again before I leave.