At Last, a Full Circle

Gemma Kelton - India


January 3, 2018

 

The best gift one can receive is having their mom visit them after living away from home for 4 months, especially as far away as India. I know this sounds cheezy and corny, but I truly couldn’t have been happier to see my mom. And it’s not for the reasons you think you know. Here’s why.

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10 years earlier, on December 20th, I met my mom for the first time at my orphanage in Bangalore.

As several flashes went off, I turned my head towards the large wooden doors. My new American mom stepped through the doors. She wore long black pants that had vertical white lines that followed her leg’s shape and settled just above the floor. The black top she wore set off her pale skin. She was American.

 

I stared.

She stared back.

I waved.

She waved back.  

 

“Hi!” she said loudly and enthusiastically, stepping towards Mary Paul, the head of the orphanage at the time, with her right hand outstretched.  

“Thank you so much for everything you have done to help me.” She shook Mary Paul’s hand briskly. Then she leaned down and hugged me, her flowery perfume sweetening my nose. She looked nice enough, but her words came out in a thick, nasal American accent that jolted my ears.

I can barely understand anything she is saying, I thought. What a voice!  Do all Americans sound like this? I wondered.

“I know, Jyothika,” Mary Paul answered in Tamil.
“She is from America. She has a strong accent. I know it is very hard to understand. But go, talk to your new mother.”

Still clinging to Mary Paul I said hesitantly,
“Hi, mama.”  I showed her my small notebook filled with addition and multiplication problems, and pointed to the stars and “Good Work!” stickers.
“Oh,” my mother whispered in my ear, “I am so proud of you, Jyothika.”

Mary Paul hands me a bag of popcorn, and I feed it to my new mom, as she gives me a stuffed dog. (Words can’t bring justice to how beautiful this moment was. Thus, here’s a photo signifying everything words can’t describe).

 

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And now, on December 20th, 2017, we visited the same orphanage together. Though the children of the orphanage were unfamiliar to me, the care workers weren’t. I remember all the countless hours, days, and weeks they spent with us: caring for us, and teaching us the meaning of love.Seeing them again 10 years later was an unbelievable experience.

In going back, I appreciate more the journey I’ve travelled to be where I am today. Without the help of the care workers and the shelter of the orphanage, I would not have found myself living with an amazing mom, in America, and have this opportunity to return to my orphanage 10 years later, thanks to Global Citizen Year.

My past has given be a backbone, and I want to make a positive impact in this world. I am only one voice, and I want kids who are in the position I was to know there is hope. Keep dreaming, children.

 

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Gemma Kelton