Thursday, 3 September 2009

Onam Lunch - Thursday

I had another Onam invitation - this time to R's house in Kovalam. She's the (almost) 19 y.o. girl who is being sponsored by some friends of mine to continue her mornings-only education at SISP. I think her mother felt she owed me something for setting it up. I arrived at 10 o'clock as invited, uncertain as to whether food would be included. It was! It came after an hour and I noticed that I was the only one to be given the special Onam food.

I looked around. The house was brick with a tiled roof. The bricks were probably baked mud held together with a muddy mortar. There were gaps between some of them. The roof was broken in one part and let the rain in. The building was basically one big room with chest-high walls dividing it into four. There was the kitchen area, the clothes-hanging/drying area, some other section I can't quite recollect, and the living area. In the living area the girl, her mother and her 6y.o. sister ate, watched TV, and slept on the thin mat. Yes, they had a little TV; it occupied the only table they had. There was a shelf with some pictures R wanted me to see but it fell off the wall when she touched it. It was a piece of a wooden crate resting on two sticks which had been poked into gaps in the wall.

R showed me the photos which were of her and a previous sponsor. The sponsor had stopped giving money which R speculates was because some rickshaw drivers had spread gossip about her receiving other support. Even if she had, which I seriously doubt and she says not, you only have to look around to see that they have next to nothing.

The little girl was a delight. Friendly with a big smile just like her mother. They had lived there all their lives and, when we went for a walk afterwards, everyone greeted and welcomed them. This family had some serious hard-luck stories to tell and I guess that the community had closed around them and tried to support them. Good to see.

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