Friday, February 29, 2008

February 21st: slumping towards the future

Slowly coming back from a pesky cold...chills and a dry, hacking cough keeping me up with the dull roar of the ocean swallowing everything outside.

We missed the lunar eclipse, my colleagues and I, on account of being on the wrong side of the world.

Comprehension dawns on me slowly as people in the village have become more accustomed to our presence here. Nothing is as it seems, and as much as I hate to say it: being pragmatic has been incredibly useful to me as a researcher. I don't believe anyone is ever telling 100% of the truth, as I happen to think that truth is more arbitrary a science than exact.

In short: people lie. Particularly when you are the Other, the White Other in a brown world.

Particularly when you represent hope and power. Power has so many meanings. We can do and undo things with the power we wield, us educated, us active.

My camera LCD is broken as of yesterday, so I am shooting blind, out of a digital machine rendered analog. I dub my camera "digalog" (as it's now officially a digital camera with an analog feel) and soldier on.

Today the rain fell with a fury, staining the sky black and pockmarking the ocean into a roiling, alien landscape.

The only other woman in our group, Anuja, broke down tonight, upon hearing that her 2-year-old is in the hospital, convulsing with seizures from an intensely high fever. She is in the village with us, preparing for the town meeting we've organized for tomorrow. I held her hand and stroked her hair as she wept, feeling the deepest sympathy for her, simultaneously realizing yet again why I will never have children. I could never stand to love anyone that much. The fear of losing that part of a self is actually too much for me to imagine.

The wife of the guest house owner where we stay in told me the story of the tsunami this morning, and how their 1.5 year old son was swept away into the ocean. The same ocean that roars, 25 meters beyond the front door of her home now, day and night. How can she stand it? I could not.

One of my colleagues honored me with the telling of her own story the other night...It cleaved me in two, her story of love and adventure sandwiched in between 2 unspeakable tragedies. It made me marvel at how positive and upbeat a being she is, how marvelous and brave.

These people all make me feel small and cowardly in my small triumphs and battles.

I want to speak Sinhalese in a way I have rarely wanted anything. I bought my first book to begin to learn to read in it today.

I have begun to research NGOs in the country. I want to live here within a year, for a long time.

I want to go native, lose myself to this delicious lobe of SE Asia forever.

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