I come from a land where beneath the surface of the ground there is rich, terracotta colored clay. It is clay that when walked upon adheres to the bottom of your soles and if those soles just happen to be bare, well, you will find your feet to be tinted red. In this same land from which I come we sometimes experience heavy rainfall and other times, we do not experience rainfall at all. When it is the season for rain, it falls in large, heavy sheets. The air is humid and the surrounding jungle is hot – hot, moist, and very, very green. You could possibly become lost in the various tones of browns and greens if not for the terracotta colored roads, which starkly stand in contrast. When the rain falls it brings life with its droplets and deep, crimson puddles form about.

Although the rain falls hard when it comes, there is a long season through which its presence is absent. During this time the grass dries out and the once so succulent vegetation becomes deprived of water. The air becomes dry – to the extent that it can in a tropical place – and life is covered with a thick layer of dust. This dust is constantly billowing in the air not only covering your surroundings but covering your own body with it, causing dirty droplets of perspiration to run down your chest. The rivers and creeks lose the flow of their water and the world around seems to halt its growth. The breeze picks up speed sending dry leaves swirling around and the skies become and endless sea of blue.

Of course, this is only a small area of the land from which I come. This small portion is what I call home, among other places.

Some say that people and experiences are the main contributors to the shaping of who we are. Although I cannot say that I disagree, I must add that I do not believe that these and these alone are the only ones. Our surroundings are what I could only call an essential provision to our souls. Just as sweat seeps out of our pores, our land seeps right back in and adjusts who we are to our very core. We are extensions of our land; we breathe it in and react to the places in which we have stood. If this is true, and I do believe it to be so, then our being is ever changing and growing with the places we set foot on and the air that we respire.

I now have a question for you. I assume that your answer will come when we have already parted. It will most likely come when I am no longer among your people and when the land that I stand on is not yours. Although your answer may come in incoherent fragments awaiting to be deciphered, I must ask nonetheless with the hope of someday, in some way, receiving a reply.

India, how will you tint my soles?