Friday, October 28, 2011

Winding Down

As of today, I have one week left in Bangladesh.  I honestly can't believe how fast these 9 (almost 10) weeks have gone by.  At the beginning, 10 weeks felt like an eternity.  Then, a month in, when we were getting ready to leave for Matlab, 5 weeks seemed a little scary.  And now, as I'm starting to say goodbye to friends and make final visits to places in Matlab that I have loved for the last 5 weeks, I am having a hard time figuring out where all of the time went.  And I have had to fight back the tears more than once when I've thought of how few days are left now.

On Tuesday, Sabrina and I took our final interviews.  Today, we took our last boat trip.  The two of us, along with Roslyn, went to our boatman's home for lunch and to visit with his family.  We were there for several hours - we were force-fed really good food (force-feeding is a sign that you are cared for), had some mehindi done on our hands, sang a few songs, and took a bunch of pictures.  Our boatman had told Sabrina and I before, and his wife told us today, that they think of us as daughters.  When it was time to go, a group of 10 women walked us back to the boat and waited, waving, until we were out of sight.  As we said goodbye to our cha-chi (auntie - the boatman's wife), there were tears in her eyes, and when our boatman, cha-cha (uncle), dropped us off and we told him "many, many thanks" he was getting a bit emotional. 

The boatman and his family:  daughter and grandson, 10 year old son (in the back), and wife

The beauty of Matlab is breathtaking.  Coming home from interviews on the boat while the sun sets over the river is one of the awesomest experiences in my life so far.  But the people are what make this place.  For me, there is something special about riding down the street on a rickshaw and getting waves from the laundry guy and "bhalo asen?" (are you good?) from the ICDDR,B office guy.  Or heading out for interviews on the boat and having Shodhagor women smile, wave, and ask where we're going that day.  Or walking into the staff canteen at ICDDR,B for lunch and seeing friendly faces all around.  The people are kind, welcoming, and always so happy to see Roslyn and I (it's also true that we're pretty easy to pick out of a crowd...). 

Shodhagor woman cooking on her boat

Maybe it's the city girl in me embracing this sense of community.  Or, maybe feeling such warmth so far from home makes it seem all the more special.  Sometimes, it can be hard for me to believe that after only 5 weeks, I could mean so much to an old man that he would be so sad to say goodbye to me.  But, then again, he meant that much to me.  So many of the people here have.

The women of the boatman's family waving goodbye

I came across this quote today that seems to perfectly sum up my feelings about leaving Matlab:

"Nothing is so dear as what you're about to leave."


1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a lovely post, Katie! Brought tears to my eyes!