“Fill your heart with people who proved they belonged there and who you truly love unconditionally.”
After landing in the United States yesterday morning, I immediately asked my professor if it was time to go back to India. From the small window in the plane, I could see that the sun that I became so accustomed to seeing was hidden by layers of clouds, and the anxiety of what was going to happen next was gone.
I knew that I would leave the airport, come back to Kent, Ohio, and the next morning I would be sitting in economics class at the exact same time as landing in America the day prior.
I know that the rest of my life here follows a pretty straightforward and busy schedule, and all of the problems and concerns that I had just 3 weeks ago were going to be waiting for me when I returned.
What I didn’t expect was the amount of things that I had to get used to in the United States. The first meal I had at the airport in the United States, which was hardly a success to say the least, I tried paying for in Rupees until I realized where I was and actually needed to count pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters again.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to re-adjust to was the fact that I could simply drink tap water. When I brushed my teeth shortly after coming home, I reached for my bottle of water, but then realized that I did not need to do this anymore.
I cannot believe that something as simple as a glass of water is one of the biggest things I took for granted in my life. I never imagined what it would be like to not be able to simply grab a glass, fill it up and start drinking.
I also have never felt so fortunate to call where I live home. I have clean water, I can take hot showers, and I can sleep in a bed inside of a temperature controlled home. So many people in this world cannot even say they have a bed to come home to at the end of each day, or a door to close so they know they are safe. I know those people whom I met on the streets of Old Delhi would never have those things and never know what that even feels like. These are the things that no one ever thinks about before they go to sleep each night, and until recently, this was something I have never thought about either.
I cannot say that things will ever go back to “normal” for me. With thoughts of the lives I briefly entered constantly flooding into my head, I don’t think things can be as they were before.
All of the kind faces I have met in Old Delhi are thousands of miles away now, and I realize I don’t know if I will ever see those people again. I don’t know if all of those people on the streets would ever get the medical treatments they needed, and I didn’t even know if they would be still alive in the weeks to come.
I can’t decide if knowing that these people are on the streets is worse than not knowing what is going to happen to them. How can that not bother me?
After this entire experience, I cannot say for certain where I will go in my life, but I know as long as I can help people and produce some reaction to all of the horrible things in the world I see, I know I will be in the right place.