At night the heat is a little less and you don't feel the mosquitos because you are so tired. I sleep on a cot in the small garden of a village family. I hear them breathe deeply around me, I hear the dogs that don't stop barking and the buffalos next door. I wonder how they sleep through the noise, but after a day of planting trees in the beating 110 degrees, I don't have the energy to wonder.
In the past ten days I've bathed outdoors with buckets, slept on the floor in the center of a slum, and been welcomed into families that sacrifice their daily water so that I can bathe. The guest is god, the Hindu scriptures say, and I am treated as such until I plead to do some work and to use my hands. I scrubbed the floors of a grocer who makes just enough to give his daughter a toy on her birthday. I bathed children who have no running water and can only shiver from the lukewarm bath because they are not accustomed.
I'm pushed every day, from 5 a.m. until midnight. I feel dirty, sweaty all the time. I handwash my clothes and they never feel or stay clean. I haven't felt AC or toilet paper since I was at home. The food disagrees with me and fights and usually I sleep with hunger and cramping. I eat food that is chopped on the floor and cooked in pots that are washed with mud and sand from the ground.
But then I wake and do some yoga on any patch of grass I can find. I spend the day with people whose entire lives are dedicated to walking through these slums, teaching children to face the world with knowledge. These men and women are fearless -- they visit houses infested with tuberculosis and check on everyones medications and hug the old grandmothers and play with the children. I can only wonder of their strength.
I feel conscious in a way that I am still figuring out. I laugh all day and cry once in a while and feel kindred with the seventeen other sisters and brothers that I sleep, travel and eat with. And it has only been ten days.