A Moment Between Summer Storms

With the smell of damp soil long gone, the only thing that reveals it has rained are the puddles covering the width of the fractured path. The sound of our steps creates a soft and broken melody this the lazy evening. Humidity surrounds us as my new, little neighbours accompany my walk through Sanischare, a rural village north of Birtamode, in southeast Nepal.

It is a quiet place, the surrounding atmosphere filled only with the chirruping of insects and the brush of palm trees against the breeze. As eager feet guide me past the scarce houses, a curious middle-aged man on the other side of the unpaved road signals the kids to come over. I follow.

He looks up, smiles and swipes his hand against his forehead, then shakes it. I smile and nod – yes, it is hot. He signals again and I learn he is deaf. I smile again, touch my own mouth and move my index finger from side to side, then give him a thumbs up – spoken language wouldn’t be of much use right now, as I barely speak Nepali.

In the meantime, the whole family has come outside and is looking at us. An old woman invites me in and shows me the way to a chair. Make yourself comfortable, her face seems to say. They all sit around me and stare in my direction with expectant eyes. “Timrō nāma kē hō?” A middle-aged woman asks. I know that much. “Mērō nāma Carolina hō,” I say slowly. My name is Carolina. “Corela?” they reply. Yes, that will do, I smile and nod twice. The woman, whose name I learn is Yamuna, touches the dimples that have formed on my cheeks with her right hand, fascinated.

They are all taking now, asking me questions I am ashamed to admit I do not understand. The old lady that invited me in hands me a green guava and a boy that looks around 13-years-old has gained the courage to ask me: “They want to know where you’re from.” His English is perfect. “Mexico,” I say, “but right now I live in England.”

They all nod and excitedly and ask more questions. They want to know if I came alone, how long I am staying, if I like the town, if I am married? Somehow, we communicate. I learn that Bimal, the first man by the road, has two sons and lives across the road. This is his brother’s house, who lives with his mother. Yamuna, Bimal’s wife, wishes they also had a daughter.

I take a bite of the green guava; it is hard and unexpectedly sour. My face betrays me and everyone laughs. As I sit there I marvel at this wonderful moment I get to share with this rural Nepalese family. It feels so unlikely, so beautifully strange. I am amazed by their hospitality and their excitement to learn about a stranger.

This moment is full of what makes us human: curiosity, eagerness to learn, kindness. The language barrier is not a problem, if anything, we laugh harder at the countless hand gestures and slow expressions that are lost in translation.

Outside, the sky changes from its tropical oranges to a dark grey. Approaching thunder suddenly interrupts our unusual conversation and I know I should make my way back home. “Wait, picture!” Yamuna says before I’m allowed to leave. I broaden my smile and comply.

Having thanked them wholeheartedly I slowly wander home. I look back to find the whole family by the road, watching me turn the corner as warm drops of rain begin to fall again.

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