Foes Into Friends

Yes We Did!

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Standing outside the CWC after our success.

Stress has been high.  I couldn’t sleep; Ganga screamed with nightmares in her sleep.  I needed a plan. Ialso faced another problem with the CWC, namely permission for three girls to go on their class trip out of West Bengal.  I sometimes forget they are still under the court.

So I went into this internal space where I seem to come up with plans at times, and I found one.  We would surprise the CWC by showing up for the permissions.  We would come with big smiles on our faces, pretending that Monday never happened.

So, first we prepared the request letters, with copies of each girl’s school ID, and attached their academic achievements, as well as the itinerary of the trip.  They wore their Shishur Sevay dress uniforms.  I wore a hand painted silk sari I bought once at the airport in Bangladesh when I was renewing my visa.  I believe that sometimes costuming makes us feel stronger, or at least it does for me.  When I was with J&J, dressed for the corporate world, I actually used a lot of make-up designed to make me look natural.   I thought of it as putting on my war paint as I got ready for work… these primitive rituals have meaning.

Seema Gupta, Purba Rudra, and of course Sudipendu Dutta, my Secretary, would go too.  I learned today i had missed the meaning of some of the discussion on Monday on why you couldn’t mix “handicapped and normals.”  I’d heard the Chairwoman say that it was too dangerous, that they could murder… and given that OUR problem was that one of our “normals” had attacked one of the kids with disabilities, I thought the Chair was saying we had to protect them from the “normals.”  No, she was talking about people with disabilities murdering and raping normal people and that’s why they couldn’t be together!  I had been upset for Sudip without realizing it was much worse than I’d understood.

Well, how to describe how wonderful it was…. there was only one officer there, but he was the one who was so horrible to me weeks ago.  We smiled.  Seema explained why we were there and gave him the papers.  The letter for one of the girls described her current study of art and he asked her if she would give them a picture to put up in the office.  Tides were turning.  Seema also talked to him about the comments about separating groups and asked up front about whether he thought Sudip should be separated from us.  The man responded with a strong no, and talked about the importance of inclusion.

The girls reminded me of the video and I took out the iPad and showed him two dance clips from yesterday afternoon, our kids all dancing together.  He remembered the mother and baby we had taken in and was thrilled to see them both happy.  Our girls knew things were going well and had happy smiles on their faces.  What a team!  What a presentation!  What a turning of the tides, foe into friend.

Seema chatted with the officer and suddenly I heard times being mentioned, times that would be good for us for a visit on Friday.  I said any time was fine, that it didn’t matter.  He smiled, a friendly smile, as if he suddenly understood I am genuine, So it looks like it will be Friday  morning.  I can breathe more easily even as I write this.

On Friday we will have gifts for the CWC, and flowers to present to them. I’m not worried, well about 90% not worried.  There is a certain unpredictability about life, everywhere but here a bit more than usual.

The support of all of you who have written feels really important.  It strengthens me.  I get my strength from many sources, from God, from Kali, from my kids and family, from my friends, from the love and support and prayers that are sent to me.  I guess they all go into that internal space where plans are made and discovered, and I find lights along the paths out of my fear.  I find strength in the memory of my grandmother who would point out across the ocean and tell me never to forget the starving children….

I would not have said that turning foes into friends is gift of mine.  I might even have said the opposite.  So maybe this is a new skill, a new light, a new path I’ve learned to navigate.  Protecting the girls forces me to grow.  I love it.  I’m smiling.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joycegodwingrubbs2
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 11:31:05

    Oh how I know what you mean about “costuming” helping. It seems to “stiffen our spines” and protect us as though we’re “out of body” and I can so relate. I am thrilled at the new optimism and the good visit. I pray all goes well in these next hours and a good report is forthcoming. Please tell the girls that we wish them the best holiday and they have “earned it”.

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  2. Trackback: CWC (Child Welfare Committee) Finally Coming For Inspection | Shishur Sevay

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