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Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Unquenchable Thirst . . .

I often ask my father about the things he reflects on in his life now, as he is in his 70's. I think of the life that he came from and the one that he gave me in this country - and the contrasts are often such sharp juxtapositions of each other.

When I was 1, I was crawling up and hitting the television in our house or banging on the toys in my family room.

When he was 1, he was crawling on the dirt floors of his village in India, already malnourished and struggling to meet many of the milestones I was meeting.

When I was 4, I was jealous that my next door neighbor could already read.

When my father was 4, he was just gaining the ability to walk. Years of malnourishment had lead to delays in core milestones for him.

I was 13, I was angry that my parents told me I would never be able to date.

When my father was 13, he was worried about how he would find a way to educate himself to make enough money to support his entire family - including all of his younger siblings.

The stark contrasts between our lives extend for so many years . . . I can hardly name them all here . . .

As I approach my 35th birthday, I question where I am in my life and some of the direction it has taken. Am I fulfilled? Am I doing what I want? Where do I want to go from here?

When my father turned 35, he realized that he was going to living a life in pretty much extreme blindness and that it would degenerate till almost complete blindness. Doctors explained that this may have been the direct result of the malnourishment he went through as a child.

So I ask my father to tell me his stories. And to share the things that he wanted to achieve in his life. Frankly, I am so proud of what he has done, though I know he has stumbled - as we all do - in some of the decisions that he has made.

My father was a man who had dreams. I don't know how many of them he has been able to fulfill. I feel like so much of his life has been about ensuring that other people's dreams were achieved. But I wanted to know what his were . . .

In an in-depth conversation with my father one day, he lamented that the one thing he is so sad he has not done was to create a clean water source for the people in the village he was born.

This small village in the northern recesses of Bihar (this is like Compton, for Americans) where my father was born is a place I have only visited twice in my life. People walk miles to get water. Children do not go to school so that they can lug back water from local streams back to their families.

The water is often contaminated.

The sewage systems are not something many Americans would be able to comprehend.

As my father has aged, such a venture is in many ways impossible for him.

But I still think about his dream quite often. And for now, his dream has become my dream.

The need to fulfill it is not only for him, but resides within the deepest part of me. My father's dreams and my own are intrinsically tied.

So I dream of a day when no child goes thirsty.

When no man has to drink contaminated water, polluted with human waste.

Where people can bathe in water without the risk of being exposed to arsenic.

How is it that such a simple thing - water - is overlooked for such a large portion of this world?

My New Year's Resolution for this year is to do what I can to make sure I can help as many people as possible receive one of the most basic resources they need.

I ask you to go to TODAY to learn more about what this really means and how we might be able to make a change.

If nothing, please just take a hard look at the facts.

Let no child, woman, man go thirsty. Ever.

"We have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this. What are we waiting for? This is the commitment we need to make to the world, now." - Jean-Michel Cousteau



Ruth J said...

welcome back kiran! i missed reading your blog.

this was such a sweet and well-written post. it really makes you appreciate how easy we have it here in the US compared to other places. most of us are so caught up in ourselves that we don't ask our parents about their lives.

kudos to you. you probably filled your dad with pride by asking him about his life and dreams.

thanks for writing this.

Vodka Logic said...

What a moving blog, and very admirable. What a great way to honor your father.

Mine too had a very different life that I did and in turn gave me an easier/better I hope to do for my children. xx

Masala Chica said...

Thanks guys. It is a legitimate goal for me this year so I will keep you up to date on how I get there. Happy New Year to both of you . . .


anatlus said...

i have been reading your blog for quite sometime and this post made me delurk.I'm an indian and i have a similar resolution not for this year but for the years to come to do something for the village my mom comes from.If each one of us could do something like this,i'm sure India will definitely become a better place to live.Good luck with ur goals.Happy New year to you and your family: )

Arizona Mamma said...

It's amazing to think of the differences in your and your father's lives. It's like stuff you only read about, unable to grasp the full horror. But being so close to someone who experienced such things first hand. I can't imagine. I think it's brave to take on that dream of your dads!

SurferWife said...

You are an amazing woman, Kiran. Honestly. You and your posts never cease to amaze me.

I wish you the best of luck with your resolution. It also makes me look at my dinky resolution of being on top of all of my family and friends birthdays with a little disdain. :)

Lemon Gloria said...

Yah, your resolution is way more world-focused than mine. Lack of not just potable water but water at all is something we just don't see in this country. And it's so common so many other places in the world.

The only concrete thing I actually accomplished in the Peace Corps was getting water pipes and a pump installed in this little village on the side of a mountain. One hand pump, one village. But I felt pretty proud of it.

Sunanda said...
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