I have only been injured once in Kolkata, though I know my family and friends worry about my safety.  But my single injury happened last year while I was at the computer, wearing my glasses, just doing some work, and suddenly my eye stung terribly!!!  I mean it was horrible!  It felt like a sandstorm had hit my open eye.  I ran to the sink and tried to wash it out!  The water soothed but the minute I had my eye out of the water, the pain was back. At first I thought it was a recurrence of corneal eye trouble I’ve had since childhood.  I looked in the mirror and saw a huge black thing on my pupil.  So I rinsed it more, and more, and the black thing stayed, but was in a different place on the pupil each time. 

I called the only doctor I knew in the area and he said to come later.  I couldn’t wait.  Bijoy and I set out, just asked people on the street where there was an eye doctor open — now eight in the morning.  We were directed to a small eye clinic about 3 km away.  The clinic was open, and a doctor was there, as he had come in early that day.  He was kind and wonderful, and quickly saw that an ant had bitten my eye, and it had died holding  on. Usually this happened to people doing ceiling work, looking up.  I was just sitting quietly at my computer, wearing my glasses.

We just never know where danger really is.

The doctor and I chatted.  I said I was here to open an orphanage.  He said that when I opened, he would see the children for free.  So two weeks ago I finally called.  Yesterday I took ten of the children to see him.  One of the boro bacchas needs glasses.  Two of the boro bacchas have squints that will need further investigation. This doctor’s speciality is glaucoma and cataracts (and suicidal attack ants) so he had to refer us elsewhere for the evaluations.

Sonali is blind.  I suspected she was, or that she only had some minimal image sight.  Sonali is the baby of our home, about two  years old, the only one we have any medical history on and she has some clear brain damage.    Like the others, she arrived with minimal strength and use of her limbs, and could not hold up her head.  I just thought of her as a sleepy baby.  Now she squirms around the room, exploring everything by touch.  She can stand supported, but can’t sit.  She sleeps at odd times, which makes sense since she doesn’t know night and day. 

Sonali also used to cry at almost all feedings, but we are learning what she can swallow, and what foods make her cry.  Her food has to be semi solid.  She is so incredibly cheerful.  She giggled throughout the whole eye examination! 

So, an ant attack led me to an eye doctor who saw the girls for free and told us Sonali was blind… strands and connections… how life is here.

One of my goals has been achieved.  All the children have had medical examinations, immunizations, eye examinations, and dental treatments where needed.   And I haven’t been attacked by any more ants.

October 2007
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