Yesterday I was riding the micro home from Zumba at night. Zumba takes place in a little room by an even smaller gym with twenty people lined up to attempt to follow along with the Nepali instructor as she shouts instructions and dances around the room.
I was riding a half empty micro that was inching along in the six pm traffic hoping for more people to fill up its seats before it crossed the river from Lalitpur back into Kathmandu, when a Nepali family, a mother, a father, and their little girl got on the bus. This is not something that is odd, families riding the bus, but normally the buses, or micros, are too crowded for me to really see them. Normally I am more focused on not falling on someone, or the odd way in which my back is bending to accommodate the short space and my (relatively) taller frame. This time, though, the bus was nearly empty, we were going against the grain of traffic up north towards Ratna Park, the palace, and my home.
What struck me about this image, was that I realized that this was my first time really watching and seeing a happy Nepali family. I spend so much of my day writing proposals about women whose husbands are not there, or who have suffered from abuse. Women who cannot take care of their children, or need help to, or cannot take their children back to their home with their families. And about children who are better off staying at our shelter because their home is not able to care for them, or who have been sold, or who have had to resort to working in the industry because there was no one else looking out for them, no one else making sure that they are okay.
But here I was, watching this father and mother interacting with their little five-year-old girl, all happy, smiling, chatting.
It is so easy to get caught up in the things that I am working with here, and forget that there are things outside of what I immediately see. The women that I see here at Raksha are strong, are some of the strongest women I know, but they also represent a section of the country that is not strong. They are the women who have gotten out of bad situations, or they are helping women who are stuck in situations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. They represent things that need to be fixed, in the entertainment industry, and also in the country to help them be real citizens and not blown off, or denied their education, or abused.
But while that may make up a certain percentage of the population here, and in so many other countries too, that does not mean that that is all there is. It does not mean that all that I see is all that is there.
I have to take myself out of where I am at times to remember that. I have to step back and remember that there is more than what I am currently looking at.
It reminds me, actually (and bear with me for a moment) of studying the impressionists and post-impressionists, and the ways in which they painted. They painted with this idea that what we are seeing might not be exactly what is there. And they painted, also, in ways that reflected what we actually see in our brains. They took the colors and the images that are in front of us and broke them down. They took the straight images that other artists were observing, and they resolved to find the meaning behind the light and behind the colors.
Now, I know this is a bit off topic of the women who Raksha is helping, and the women who I see on the bus every day. But it does seem to reach into this idea of stepping back to try and see things as they really are.
To try and see this country as more than just the things that I see and write about at work every day. To try and make sense of what is here, and what I will do with this knowledge when I go home. The country is more than what I see in my immediate vision day to day, and it is these little things that remind me of this. There are children that need to be cared for because their families are not there, or cannot afford to. But there are also children who are smiling and laughing on buses with their loving mothers and fathers. There are women who have been exploited and abused, but there are also women who are in amazing situations with amazing family, education, and opportunities.
It is hard, at times, to see the great things through the sad, but it is also such an amazing feeling when I am reminded of the beautiful things that make up a country that can override the bad.