The heat took over our minds and bodies yesterday. More than 1,000 people have died in India since we landed in Dehli Saturday night. After an early morning of playing football and frisbee with the boys, making necklaces with the women, and creating content, Carly and I had to retreat to our room for a break from the heat. When we were rested, we emerged from our rooms to check out the scene.
The boys were in their rooms relaxing from a long day of play as the the staff prepared for the night. We walked past the kitchen where they cook the meals for the boys and caught a glimpse of Seema, one of the female staff members, cutting vegetables while her husband watched over the rice. (Seema is 20 years old and seven months pregnant. You can't tell she is pregnant because of her tiny stature and build.)
Naturally, I wanted to help cut the vegetables. We all know and believe that a shared meal brings family and friends together. We curate dinner tables with the best decor and try to eat food that nourishes our bodies. While I sat and cut tomatoes, I thought about my reality and how it's so different from living in a village in India. Seema and her husband were not preparing the food on fancy wood cutting boards or boiling the rice in a beautiful copper pot. The knives were dull, and I could barley cut the tomatoes. Seema's knife was held together by a wire. As I watched her cut the green chile peppers, I thought about the natural, beautiful simplicity that we all wish to create.
It took me longer to cut the tomatoes than it did for her to cut the chili peppers and the onions because I had her check which tomatoes were good to eat. When we finished cutting the vegetables, I saw Vemlesh, another female staff member, scooping rice from the pot with what looked to be a giant metal shovel. Carly and I were amazed at the size of the pot and the amount of rice. I tried to help Vemlesh carry the pot of boiling water across the room so she could scoop the remaining grains of rice from the pot. Remember when I told you I would trip at some point during my time in India? Well, I had to trip while carrying the boiling pot of water. Thankfully, I balanced myself before the water had a chance to burn our arms. Needless to say, Vemlesh didn't trust me to transport the pot safely.
When we were finished with the basic preparations, there was nothing more for us to do. Although Carly and I didn't do much, I believe we all received joy from the experience. Seema's husband was able to prepare the rice for the boys' dinner while I helped her cut vegetables. We enjoyed simple but great conversation with Vemlesh and a few laughs. In that moment, simplicity was defined. In that moment, a meal was prepared for 40 boys - a meal that would nourish their bodies. It was a meal that was grown from the earth and picked with beautiful hands.
Photos by Carly Mask