February 3, 2011 – Panchakarma Day 6 and Lunch at a Friendand the Fortune Telling Cow
Panchakarma was a quick and pleasant affair this morning…Just a lovely massage and then off to my long awaited, and postponed several times visit to devi’s house. Devi is one of the massage girls at the clinic and if you’ve followed my journey over the past couple of years, know she comes from an extremely poor family. Five daughters, only the oldest managing to get married before the father lost his job over 12 years ago and stopped supporting the family. Mother is only in her 40’s looks like she is 70 and has a really hard and sad existence – brining in fodder from the forest everyday for their one cow who gives a little milk, which if she is lucky, she can sell. Other than that, devi and her next older sister work to support the family.
At any rate, I love this family, and her mother in particular. Without language we have become friends. We seem to understand each other on a soul level. She said today that her dream was to be able to build a room where I could live and then the two of us could chat and drink chai every day together!
I’ve helped them in very small ways over the years as I really don’t have money for anything big. But the few small things, a new sari, a sweater, this year a blanket/quilt, new shawl and a couple of used sweaters…all these things have brought great joy to a women who has never had anything in her life.
And this family, this mother and her daughters, are so loving and caring, for each other and for others. Today, as always when a visit, I had lunch at their house and then we went to sit up on the roof in the sun.
Devi sat combing her mother’s hair, for no other reason than they both enjoyed it. I am linking here to posts from the last couple of years as well just to give you an idea of the simplicity of their lives and our developing friendship. You can also see pictures of their cow etc., and more of the “house” in these posts. Last year I was able to put together $200 and with that money, they built a toilet. For the first time in their lives, they do not have to go out to the forest to tend to the needs of nature, and I can visit for a little longer knowing there is a toilet available.
While we were up on the roof a guy came along with a cow all dressed up. They girls started giggling and then the Mom and the three girls went downstairs to the guy and the cow and they came into the house and something went on and then he went on to the next house…when they came back up, with much pantomime and searching for words, what it turns out that is is a “fortune telling cow”. Of course they all know this is ridiculous, the guy has just trained her to shake her head up and down or left and right, in response to questions people put to her (at his command of course). But out of compassion, even the poorest of people will always invite him in, ask some questions, and then pay him by putting rice or flour or lentils or whatever into the sacks hanging on the cows side.
I had a lovely few hours with them and now sit up on my rooftop, at 4:30 in the afternoon, still being warmed by the sun which has not sunk behind the trees yet.