“Vicki, please may I share something with you – you understand the essence of things – something I believe in totally and completely too….
There is a basti (a settlement of dispossessed people – they live in shacks, have no running or drinking water, no electricity, and no facilities of any kind AT ALL) near where we live. I go for a walk every morning, and used to see a lady from this basti also walk along the same route. One day, we smiled at each other, quite spontaneously when our paths crossed, and since then, without any words she started to join me, doing one round of my walk. This lady, has only a very small smattering of Hindi and a word or two of English that she has picked up. I speak both these languages. She however speaks Bengali (her mother tongue) which I do not speak, but can sort of get the gist of. Over the days, a kind of companionship has grown. Our worlds are so different – she runs a stall on the side of a small road. She takes her wares – bakery products, chips and such like, in a cycle van (a contraption which is a large tin box fixed onto a cycle) and sets up the stall every morning, and takes everything down every evening. It would not be an exaggeration to say that you and I have more in common than this lady and me, simply because we have a language to communicate in and the means to do so. And yet, think about this – you are an Australian who has made France your home, I am an English-speaking South Indian, living in Bengal, a Francophile, and this lady is illiterate (has native wisdom though), and has not seen the outer boundaries of Calcutta. Yet, something binds us – it is in fact the essence of our human-ness and our woman-ness is it not?”
“Vicki, I hope you understand what I’m trying to say…so different, one common thread, different links on the same chain…”