I run over the cricket playground, on which the kids used to play. Luckily, there is almost noone here at the moment. Just the few men, who will still sit here in the evening to warm their hands at the fire. And their throats with Whisky. I greet them quickly, try not to look too long at them, otherwise we might get into conversation. And I want to avoid conversation. Indeed, it is what I am running away from. Like a little boy who runs away from his parents. Fleeing out of the settlement and then looking what comes next. Just that I do not flee from my parents, but from society.
I leave the people behind me, walk on unknown roads, where I won't be suspected, where I have rarely been seen, a place which even I don't know yet. My favourite hill is no option. If I walk up there, the boys from the settlement could see me and might want to acompany me. So I will have to go down the hill, where the sound of rushing water comes from. I make my way on overgrown paths, bushes and thorns get stuck in my jacket. I have to hurry. I need to get some distance in a short time. I jump across the seavage river of trash and in my reckless escape, I recognize a fallen tree as maybe a suitable way up the steep hill, deeper into the forest. Climbing my way up, once or twice I almost slip, I am scared already, don't know where to go. But then I find a pipe, where I can pull myself up and suddenly find myself in front of a little path, which leads deeper into the jungle. Perfect. Wherever it might lead me. After ten minutes, I reach a clearing. Here I can relax and find a little peace. I still can hear the trash- and waterfall in the distance, but the jungle blocks the noise of the settlement and protects me from its looks. A few exotic birds fly around, wondering who this new intruder might be. I watch their artistic flights, listen to their songs and feel like a free human being for a moment.
Taking a deep breath
I calm down, enjoy the silence around me. Enjoy doing things the way I want. Without influence from outside. Finally, I found some time to not just experience things, but also digest them. And there is a lot that has been adding up the last days. Actually, it is my last day in this little settlement, which has started to become a part of me, but is also torturing me. Last week we have finished a project. A center for the community, to be able to help themselves. The opening function has been celebrated with guests from all over India. Even before that, we were two guests to strain the family's energy. During the function, we would be ten.
Our project has just been finished, but that does not mean less work for me. It's in fact opposite: I lack excuses. Everyone knows that I'd be going soon and that I do not work for the center anymore. Thus, I get more invitations than I'd like. I am pushed around. For example by my two friends. Actually I needed to make interviews with them, but a cup of tea later, I find myself on the back of a Scooty. I do not know where we are going, but finally we reach a beautiful waterfall and visit an impressive temple. I am happy, but also feel disempowered. When I reach home, I feel like I would have walked next to the scooty instead of being driven on its back. I just need to take a deep breath, but it does not work. Again we have guests. A 14 year old boy spends the night in the room with my chota bhai and me. And they asked me to go out for a hike with them the next morning. I agree, because I love hiking, as it is a good way to rest the soul. Is it also like that with two boys as a company? Probably not. But I will get maybe ten solitary minutes with my camera when we reached the peak of the mountain. that's enough. Five hours of boys-talk in exchange for ten calm minutes on the mountain. What a deal.
Between two worlds?
I am back in the forest and rethinking everything. I will really miss my family and they will miss me. So much for sure. We have been growing together during the past time. I have learned so many things. I became the big brother, Nils Bhaya. Probably this is exactly what is confusing me that much these days, what sucks out all of my energy. I do not stand between the worlds, but get more and more sucked into the new life. I have a new role, with expectations to fulfill. I am not simply me anymore, but became a part of the we. But I am not used to it. Usually, I jump from one situation to the next. Saying goodbye is a routine for me. Commitments are rare. It is nice to be valued that much by a family and to be integrated. Yet it is also exhausting. Especially, because there are different rules. The rule of the elders, most of all. The eldest brother or sister commands the younger ones, the father still decides about his children, if they are grown ups. Kids serve the guests, have to be polite and to be on hand, whenever the parents need them. I am a family member of second class actually. I do not have command over my little siblings and I also do not have to help in the household (even though I try often, without success). But still I feel the hierarchy. Especially when it is about meeting guests. Then I have to be there.
But now I am sitting on my little private hill in the green and review the past weeks. I know that I will have to go back soon. In half an hour, there will be the Christmas- and my farewell-party. And I do not know the way back. Climbing down the hill, where I climbed up is completly out of question. So I take my last deep breath and get myself ready to go. In this moment, my phone rings. The father. Where I am? I do not know, but I try to explain in my friendliest Hindi. I am interrupted. "Aao! Jaldi, jaldi, aao. Party hai!" Hurry up, there is a party. "Mujhe patta hai, lakin chhe baje par..." I know, but I have time until six.... "Abhi aao, jaldi!". So I walk back. Again annoyed because of the orders. Annoyed, that people do not trust in my ability to organize myself. I ask a few farmerst for the way and find out that I will have to walk a serious detour. Now I am even annoyed about myself. I am annoyed that I might indeed will be late and proof that I am indeed too irresponsible to organize myself without following orders. I hurry up. Jaldi, jaldi.
After twenty minutes I finally arrive at the center, sweating and covered in the leftovers of my little adventures in the bushes. First I am a little dazzled. The center is wounderfully decorated, crowded with many people, 70 or maybe even hundred people. I step in and get applause of the audience, even a Christmas song is played on my arrival. I look into brightly smiling faces and my eyes even become a little wet. What a nice suprise. At least there are some moments for me. Simply not for me alone and I cannot chose them. But enough complaints. There is a party going on. I quickly run home to change into my partydress and finally make it back on time. The function is beautiful. The children of the settlement demonstrate different group dances, there are speaches about the community's development and a nice cake. Everything is well organized and I am proud. Proud to be part of the community that does not need me anymore, but still wants to have me.