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Strangers becoming Family

It’s an early May evening, hot and humid. Offices have closed, shops have opened and crowds
overflow the sidewalk. People risk their lives using the edges of roads to maneuver around the
press as buses, motorcycles and Ubers slow to a crawl, impatiently blowing their horns. The
local tea stall is full of customers enjoying strong, sweet cha served in disposable clay cups, the
ground nearby littered with broken shards but those will disintegrate with the first good rain. A
“chaatak”, rain bird, trills, signaling the hope of monsoon. It’s probably still about six weeks
away, but the bird’s song and the branches of the mango tree, bowing with ripening fruit are
sure signs that the rains will come. The crowds are artists and musicians, café owners, and
writers, living in this neighborhood of a familiar Indian city where I’ve rented an apartment.
It’s been eleven years since the death of my husband. Eleven years of learning how to be a
widow in India. Eleven years of reviving old dreams. The decision is made. I have walked out of
the mountains and back to the city. I’m so aware that I can’t go back to the days when my
husband was with me. But I never imagined that I would give up the safety of my tiny hilltop
cabin, perched on the edge of a Himalayan expanse, surrounded by friends who walked the
rough, mountain roads with me and shared untold cups of ginger honey lemon tea at quaint
roadside tables. I couldn’t imagine that I would actually have an apartment in one of the
creative centers of this mega-city, that I’d walk these streets and lanes meeting and smiling at
new faces. How could I have ever known, that a new season of creating capacity for artistic
expression within a new community, would create capacity in me, to once again open my life,
my table and my heart to strangers who are quickly becoming family?



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