The plane touches down in DFW airport. It’s been 36 hours since I left India, and my emotions are all out of whack due to jet lag and lack of sleep. On the verge of exhausted tears, I make arrangements to have my delayed bag delivered to my apartment.
The next day is a blur of catnaps and puppy kisses and phone calls to family during hours of alertness.
I wake up early the next morning to get ready for work. Everything seems surreal, as if I am still asleep in my bed in India and dreaming of home. Driving down the highway, I keep expecting other drivers to honk at me as they pass…but this is not India, and honking does not mean “hello, I am passing you; please don’t move over” here. “Namaste!” I greet my coworkers. No one notices the mehndi on my hands or the jingling anklet on my foot.
Was it just last week when I was singing silly songs with a room full of children? Was it just last week when I sat around the dinner table with my friends, talking about the craft for the next day? Was it just last week when I was boarding a run-down bus to go into town to eat lunch, and watching all the cows and dogs and goats wander down the road?
“How was India?” The inevitable question. As if I can sum it up in a sentence or two. “Awesome!” I always reply. “I had a lot of fun spending time with the kids.”
I don’t tell them about the darkness that has reigned over the subcontinent for thousands of years, the spiritual oppression you feel all day every day.
I don’t tell them about how unvalued women are there, how I avoided the eyes of every man to reduce the risk of unwanted advances.
I don’t tell them about the overwhelming grief I felt when I would see a woman kiss her fingers and touch a passing cow, as if it could save her.
I don’t tell them…it’s too soon.