Photo Op

Today I had one of those moments where a photo you never actually took stays in your mind forever. I was around the hostel tying up some loose ends with different kids and just trying to spend some time. I couldn’t quite bring myself  to head back to the elephant house so I ended up lingering on the playground as the boys started trickling out after snack. One of the smaller boys from 1st standard, Karthik, was clutching onto me everywhere I went. I’ve never heard him speak much but he is always eagerly participating in class. Unfortunately, I have never had much personal time with him. After a little while, he looks up and says “Auntie, I love dance. Dance Number 1.” and then he started flailing around like a dervish in the way that the boys like to freestyle here. Of course I started laughing and said I was happy dance was his favorite. And then, he couldn’t stop talking. He told me several times about finishing his dance homework and that his teacher had it and about his class and dance. I have my lululemon bag with me here with all of the proverbs and thoughts on life written across it. We started reading all of the words and even worked up to ‘strategic’. pretty solid word for a 7 year old here. We spun and danced, and I taught him slap hands (which he laughed and laughed over). When it was time to go he desperately wanted to come to the elephant house with me, but has to stay at the hostel. I agreed that we could walk together to the yellow box just at the perimeter and he was thrilled. As I said good-bye, someone else called for my attention and I got distracted. As I picked up my bag and turned to walk away, I heard one more “Auntie!” I turned around and with the sun setting behind him and the green trees all around, Karthik stood there waving and his face beaming. I waved just as frantically back and then he turned to go play again with his friends. That moment, I realized, would be imprinted in my mind for a long time. I turned with my eyes glistening in the frank realization of how hard it was to step away for one evening let alone without a return date. Only 12 days left as Joseph so sadly reminds me daily. But it would only be so hard to leave if it was a great experience, so I can be thankful for that.

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