Return to The House

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As I wrote last time, we were going to the village to visit my father’s last resting place. We did make it there by eight in the morning, driving down that highway and it felt so surreal to be going there along that familiar route to reach Brahmanpalli when there would be no father or mother there to be enthusiastic about our visit.

As usual as the granite quarry at the side of the road appeared we saw the tall coffee factory which stands near by to that precious house. We were soon there and just in time for Mass. Everyone was seated and ready to begin. While I participated I also noticed the simple chapel made in what used to be Denis’ workshop. It was just the kind of place to give a sense of peace and contemplation of what this place had meant to all of us.

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Later we walked out to the grave, surrounded with rose plants in bloom and decorated with gerberas and roses and with the flowers from the creeper my sister had had planted there earlier raised on to the edge of the white stone. Now a high wall surrounds the property with fruit trees and other plants lush and laden along its edges. We hope our white roses will grow and flourish too. It was a blessed experience and I have a lot of photos to sort out and make a large photo post with titles explaining what was the before and the now.

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The Nuns had made us a breakfast of appams with channa sabji and chutney. The appams were soft, delicious and wolfed down by everyone. We called our taxi driver in who was happy to partake of the meal as well, made as festive as the Lenten season allows. The best part was the nimbu pani they brought out in trays to us as we wandered around the grounds looking at the changes. I did not, and I don’t think my sister’s did either, feel sorrowful or depressed to be there. It was humbling to see how the people there were making do with things left there and hadn’t glammed it up. It was still a simple home, but now with many more inhabitants. Seeing the place thrive with the happy girls rushing about was uplifting.

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It would have been devastating if it had been abandoned, nor used to such good purpose and it was so heartening to see that there was a classroom, neat and clean places for the girls (all orphans or from poor families) to sleep and eat and do their daily tasks. My parent’s furniture was all there, kept in such good order and it was gratifying to see all the paintings, crockery, lamps, other knick knacks that were all neatly arranged to their usefulness here and there.

The Nuns left us alone to wander the grounds, the garden with exuberant bloom and the house now painted white looked cool and as much loved and maybe more cared for from when we were there.

We got back to Pune in the early evening today. When I told my mother that we had been there she looked slightly puzzled almost as if she did not know what I was talking about. I asked if she remembered it and she said yes. I stood thinking whether I should tell her more but I asked about Denis and she said I don’t know. I think there is something that she still thinks of or still visualizes but does not articulate. It’s possible but makes no sense to pester her about it. I did feel it important to tell her that their house looks like a happy home.

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We got a great surprise of the gift from the Nuns of green mangoes (called Kairi) from the many trees. There is a dwarf variety planted by them, barely a few feet off the ground but bearing fruit amply. The old lime trees, about twenty five years are still fruiting year round, some ripe ones were lying on the ground and they gave us a large quantity of these as well. They have collected dried leaves and grass cuttings to place around the base of trees as mulch which will slowly turn to good compost over time. I plan to make some nimbu pani and a cool drink I make at least once in summer called mango fool and give this to my mother. The only thing that could possibly make me feel a bit dejected was that she couldn’t come.

It was an enchanting morning, our going back there a valued experience, so much graciousness and hospitality was displayed. We came away assured that it had indeed been a wonderful idea to turn this into a home for these abandoned young girls and women who would now be able to go into the world with dignity and hope.

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