Dear Komal (birth name),
When I think about my own history of abuse and my path to healing, I realize that grief comes up. I grieve for the lost innocent child who was astonished and shocked to be slapped out of the blue, for no logical reason. With each unfair transgression to the child I was, my innocence was stripped and I need to grieve for that lost innocence I was entitled to. There needs to be a funeral for that loss, an official recognition that validates my loss.
To be expected to move on and forgive these transgressions and the related losses disregards and dismisses these lost parts that belonged to me. These losses can not be ignored. They need acknowledgement, validation, a compassionate witnessing of grief that these losses are gone and can not return as they were.
Only when these losses have been given the proper respect they deserve and have been grieved properly, sufficiently, with regard and love, can they then be let go. I don’t want to say farewell to the innocent, precious child that I was before she has been properly honored. I grieve for her; she deserves it. She deserved to be known, to have had her light shown brightly and not have had it brutally covered, shamed, and told to instead live in the shadow of others’ darkness.
We have been encouraged by the light dimmers to forget about and ignore our broken spirits. This helps them to not look at themselves for breaking our spirits and do not have to be accountable, leaving all the repair work to us. In addition to having to mend our spirits alone, we are shamed for trying, for even noticing there is something that needs some tending to, some nurturing, some love. We are negatively labeled; we are made to feel less than for our efforts to reclaim ourselves and our lives in a true, honest, authentic way.
We are expected to quickly excuse and forgive those that transgress or we are emotionally irresponsible and have character flaws. Meanwhile, more of our spirit is lost and we can barely keep up with the grieving that needs to take place for the losses, much less mend them and try to reclaim them.
It’s ok to pause and remember that 6 year-old child in an Indian village who thought the moon followed her, and was so distracted looking at it above her while walking, that she didn’t notice the ditch filled with feces below her and fell in. I see the child who gave her shoes to neighbors she thought needed them more, the child who liked to play dress-up, tell stories around a fire and be out all day on adventures.
It’s ok to smile in amusement at the child who found a condom and thought it was a great balloon and searched all around with the shopkeepers for such amazing balloons with no luck and was baffled no one sold them, and was confused by everyone’s serious look when I showed them the sample I had found, too close to our house.
I would have adored you. I would have wanted to show you all that life has to offer, the many mysteries, curiosities, adventures, stories, and enriching experiences that your inviting soul was ready to soak up. You needed people around you to let you know just how enchanting you were, how playful, as you waited in hiding with your colored water gun ready to strike an unsuspecting villager on Holi.
I see you walking barefoot to school, sitting on the cement floor later, watching the teacher’s desk go from one side of the room to another as another tremor took place that was so commonplace you barely reacted. I wish I could watch your joy as it rained and you had to be in it, soaking it up. You loved such simplicity and didn’t take it for granted.
I sing with you to “Twinkle, twinkle…” on the radio and then get under the self-cranked water in the courtyard with you. I walk with you to pick up fresh bread where feet were used in preparing the dough. I go with you to a shop to get sugar cane for 5 paisa. I swim in the dirty lake with you that left so many sores on your legs and feet. I pray as you got sick and almost died. I watch in horror with you, holding you, as you see a boy twirl and then smash a kitten into the rocks, blood spilling.
I notice your loving heart as you try to collect as many puppies as possible in your lap every night, tapping them gently to sleep.
I watch you with pride as you confidently play village sports in the dirt with boys and girls as a tomboy, not caring how dirty you usually were as a result. I smile as you show your prowess as a village master with marbles. I hug you and console you after a fire cracker was in your hand and startled you as it went off, numbing your hand. I join your delight as you twirl around with sparklers, beaming. I want to rock you, as your oldest sister did, after she accidentally struck your neck with a hot ladle while she was frying, leaving a scar you still have.
I want to see your view from the rooftop of your flat-roofed house where you slept on a cot under the stars, with complete peace. I want to put my arm around you as we gaze in wonder from that roof top at all the other roofs lit up by little oil lamps on Diwali, with the moon and stars above us and complete silence all around us. I want to whisper to you to soak that moment up because it may be the most beautiful, magical, serene view and experience of your life.
I put my arm around you as you are rushed away from home in the middle of the night to go join your father in the US with the rest of the family. You couldn’t say goodbye to anyone and no explanation was provided about why your family was leaving India and where exactly you were going and what it would be like. You knew 5 Indian dialects but did not know English.
I smile in amusement at the 9 year-old seriously collecting and making cow dung patties with your cousin in a village in Pakistan. You didn’t understand why your grandfather was surprised because you were doing this after having lived in the US 2 years by then. You had simply accepted the need for the task and you sought to do it well. You were always a doer!
You adapted from a village in India to a conservative suburb of Boston, back to a village in Pakistan, doing a task with resolution that the villagers found loathsome. You guided your illiterate mother at the airport between the two countries and consoled her after her father’s passing, shortly after the trip, knowing that your grandfather was ready to go be with his wife and you had released him after begging for him to come to the US.
You had so many wonderful characteristics developing – your sense of adventure, determination, persistence, humor, bravery, compassion, and a sense of awe with the world. These tender parts deserved respect, love and nurturing to grow and expand. They are not gone, they are there, waiting to be seen, heard, invited out and allowed to grow in the open, in the light.