Besides the clear lush nature of Nepal, another reason for traveling there was that we got to meet many of the family of our Nepalese students. After our arduous 45-mile trek through the Annapurna circuit, we headed back to the capitol city of Kathmandu where I nursed a knee injury and anxiously awaited the parent-teacher meeting. A day before we were to leave Nepal, we walked into a dusty, small school auditorium and sat in a neat row before all the curious eyes of the family members.
Naturally, I lost it.
I scanned the room, looking for reminders of my students in the faces of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of our ten Nepali students. There were Anuj’s eyes behind her sister’s eyeglasses. Gishay’s mom was a mature duplicate of Gishay, wrapped up in a sari with a broad and gentle face. Stoyi’s smile appeared her father’s face as he beamed at us from a wooden bench.
Zoya’s father walked up to us, “How is my daughter doing? Is she a good student? How is she getting along”? Zoya’s younger sister peeked at us from behind her father, “How is my sister? Does she miss us?”
I breathed in deeply and tried desperately to keep my tears behind my eyes. But they came anyway. I turned and cried as I let myself be overwhelmed. I could hear Zoya’s sister asking why I was crying. I wanted to explain myself. That, yes, your sister misses all of you, but she doesn’t tell you because she doesn’t want you to worry. Yes, your daughter is an inspiring student and she is the reason I remain in Bangladesh. Yes, she has adjusted, but not without hardships and many sleepless nights of weeping and aching from homesickness.
But words did not emerge from me, just shallow gasps for air as I cried.
“She’s a great student. She studies very hard and is one of my best,” I told Gishay’s father.
His wife turned to him, pointed at me and said something in Nepali, and he turned to repeat it to his son who translated it to me. “My parents say that you look a lot like Gishay. They said that it is like she is here with us now.”
Later that day we were at Stoyi’s parents’ home when I was speaking with her sisters. I lamented how I only had brothers. “Well,” they pointed at themselves, “now you have two sisters.”
My favorite shot from Kathmandu. It’s a convergence of so much energy and I’m surprised my point-and-shoot captured it at the right moment.
More: Nepal photo set.
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