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Saying Goodbye: Part 3

April 11, 2007

Our final goodbye on that last day at Mother Teresa’s was with Auntie, who had been waiting by her sewing closet auntie-gifts.jpgin a pose that was somehow at once both formal and twitchy. When we broke free of the crowd and approached her, she hurriedly unlocked the small room and motioned us inside. There, she handed us several small wrapped parcels and tried to find bits and pieces of English to wish us both a long, happy marriage and all the blessings of God. The metallic paper later revealed a small marble jewelry box, with a little beaded necklace and a Mother Teresa medal for me, and a wooden flute for Damon; she had remembered from our pantomimed conversations that my “husband” liked to play musical instruments. Auntie didn’t have the money for the things she herself needed, and here she was, showering us with gifts. Still — she had one more thing up her sleeve.

Then, with a rare “I’m-so-pleased-with-myself” grin, she pulled out two long reed brooms. These brooms areauntie-stern.jpg common in India, and can be used to rake leaves without disturbing delicate plants, to sweep up debris, to scrub floors with soapy water — excelling at any number of homekeeping tasks. Ingenious. They were new to me when I arrived, and I loved them; my excitement over such mundane household tool being the source of great amusement to my new friends. Auntie was among the amused and had purchased two of them for us as a cheeky, but meaningful wedding gift. Unbelievable. At her request, we posed for photos with her and these unexpected gifts, before saying our goodbyes. She began crying, as she put her hands over her heart and concentrated on the English she seemed to have prepared: “I am so much loving of you. So, so thankful. So much of happy, many sad.” Me too, Auntie. Me too.

As Damon and I traveled for the next five days in and out of cars, hotels both humble and posh, and finally airports, every Indian we encountered wondered why the silly Americans were lugging these giant, humble brooms from place-to-place. When we explained that they were wedding gifts, most would chuckle and shake their heads in embarrassment for us. And every single time, I insisted that these were the best gifts we’d ever received.

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2 comments

  1. I remember you using one of those brooms to clean the floor in an earlier photo. I can understand why it is truly your favorite …talk about a gift from the heart, that’s it!


  2. I’ve just read and enjoyed your entire blog. I also volunteered with CCS (in Russia) and had very similar moments and feelings. Your post about getting a visa made me smile as it was so similar to mine! I was only able to volunteer for a week but want to return so much – I know I will one day. Maybe you will to. 🙂 Keep hoping and be happy.
    Namaste.



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