I cannot see the details of her face; her smile remains still. Time will cause the details of our already brief conversation to blur into nothingness, her bright eyes searching for hope and clarity always hiding just behind my shut-eyes.
On the beach south of Madras there is a small fishing village. If you were to pass over that sand during the hours when school is not in session you would probably meet her. She is in the 6th Standard, probably around 12 years old. Her English is crisp and articulate. The smile, excitement, and enthusiasm on her face are beyond paint, it seems etched and embedded because of the relationships in her life.
“My name is…” and I already cannot remember. She asked for mine and I explained that I was “no-name”. I am not sure why I gave that answer perhaps it was that I wanted her to remember me longer than the others who passed. The conversation started as I headed south on the beach and continued as I returned by the same spot on the way north.
The facts are heart pulling. She is one of four sisters in an extremely poor family that live in a fishing village along a coast that has been stripped of aquatic resources by multinational trawlers and their nets. She never asked for money, rather she invited me home to meet her three sisters. They did not have much she explained yet she hoped that I would be able to pay them a visit. There is little income in the village, no viable industry except for the one or two small shrimp-farms nearby. Even with the education provided by the local Catholic Priest and the lessons gained from living in harmony with her Hindu and Islamic neighbors there is little chance of any real opportunity to quench her thirst to experience life or even quell the constant hunger that lingers on.
“Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder.” (Proverbs 16.26)
I wonder; what are the true longings of my heart?