Kolkata Diary. What I’m Feeling

I keep trying to think about how I’m feeling.  About my trip, about being home.

But my brain  had gone dull, the synapses not sparking.   My eyes  want to stare into nothingness.  And my body goes from being desperately hungry, like there’s literally a hole in my stomach, to being exhausted.

I wake up early in the morning, when it’s still dark out, thinking of what I still have to do.  Selling the tote bags the girls made at the Women’s Interlink Foundation.   Choosing the organizations to donating the remainder of the money that was given to me for the trip.  Figuring out how to work long term with Soma and the women in her village.  Thinking about how to start working on my own art again.

By the time I get up, feed the animals and eat breakfast, my energy level had evaporated.  Just thinking of placing an order for my Show Your Soul posters makes me want to climb back into bed and pull the blankets over my head.  It just seems too hard to do.

But when I think about the kids in the daycare, in the Red Light District in Kolkata, that makes me cry.  Then I know what I’m feeling.

An overwhelming despair at how vulnerable they are.  And these are the kids, girls and boys,  who at least have a chance for something other than  the almost certain life of abuse they were born into.  To think of all the kids who don’t…..well I just haven’t let myself do it. I haven’t let myself think too much about any of it.

I can see that now.

Every day we went from one place to another.  Meeting people hearing their stories.  Stories of  brutality, and oppression, success and hope, stories with unknown endings.  Gathering information in words and pictures.   And through it all being careful not  to allow myself to feel too deeply.

Now the question is what do I do with it all?

How do I use the experiences and information I’ve acquired to do something good?

My rational mind tells me to take it one step at time.  One small action after another.   But my body is weary.  I’ll get to it she says.  Right now I need to do nothing.  Right now I need to sleep.



7 thoughts on “Kolkata Diary. What I’m Feeling

  1. Maybe the recovery is the hardest part. You worked so hard and slept so little in India, not to mention the time changes!! And as you say, the despair over how vulnerable these young people are… So very glad that you are home again, Maria!! Annie

  2. Jon has warned us: don’t tell you what to do. So a gentle thought: consider setting up an account with the money you have left to begin saving for your next trip. If it doesn’t happen, donate it then. OK. I’m done.

  3. Oh Maria – I share your feeling of despair when we know about the suffering of people, especially children, yet feel helpless to help them. Sometimes I feel like putting my head in the sand. What you and Jon are doing for the refugees and at the Mansion is so important and making a huge difference in people’s lives. I couldn’t go to India like you did. I couldn’t bear to witness the poverty and the suffering. You are a brave and old soul and you are already doing so much to help people in your community. Maybe that’s enough and all that you have time for. You will figure it out in time when you have rested.

  4. It’s been years since I’ve been in India, Maria, but reading your posts over the last two weeks brings it all back. Westerners have a difficult time wrapping their minds around the every day brutality of life many Indians live and accept; I can see how overwhelming that has been for you. It’s too much to absorb, such suffering. You are doing the right thing, of course, settling into the life you live and taking comfort in the life you’ve built. And you will continue the work you’ve started there. That, in itself, will bring you peace of mind in time.

  5. Maria,
    The good you are doing is already there, already in your heart. Now you have to be good to yourself, and allow this time to decompress, rest and take time………Your time in India was intense as it was beautiful, and now it is time to allow yourself to revel in the peace and sanctuary that is home…………Don’t rush, and take it one day at a time as it evolves…….you will find your strength again soon enough.

  6. Maria, I saw the movie “Lion” last night, and some of the movie touches on this issue (human sex trafficking). I sobbed for the victims and for the amount of poverty. I can’t imagine seeing it in person. I wonder about having post traumatic stress after meeting people in this situation and feeling the magnitude of all of it in person. Thank you for sharing your journey on your blog and bringing this issue to life for us. Thank you for making a difference in their lives and ours.

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