living without legs- and my pathetic attempt to help
it was looking up at me, serenly and wihtout changing its expression, as i walked past, with my camera on my shoulder, and my friend Katja walking next to me, on a dusty road in the center of the village Gokarna, in Karnataka, India.
the face with its serene look would not have been such a big spectacular happening if it hadn't been for the deformed body that it was attached to.
his legs were like little frog-legs, completely useless.
i stopped immediately as our eyes met. i saw this little boy, and was stunned by the chaotic opposition of his facial expression to that of his bodily expression. physical body and spiritual body were in complete opposition- or was it that his spiritual body was so in harmony, that he no longer had use for a physical one?
i was extremely vulnerable in his presence, and it started as soon as my eyes met his. i really felt a huge desire to help him in some way, while, at the same time, i wanted to be around his wisdom.
Shiva was only about 10 years old but his soul is old and wise, and he made me feel like a child.
i started visiting him every day and i was just sitting there, hanging out with him and his family, and they shared their daily moments with me, and i got to share my western wealth with them by buying food and drinks and chai.
Shiva's job was to keep a little tin box in front of him, for people to donate money. which many did, as they saw his deformed body and pure expression.
he was wearing the same clothes almost every day- but every day they smelled clean and fresh. his mother or grandmother washed all of the childrens' clothes, each and every night. they each had a tiny (in comparison to a western) breakfast and a chai each, and then one more meal in the evening, usually just rice and some dal.
i wanted to help Shiva from the moment i met him. i felt as if i wanted to give something back to Gokarna, where my life had been saved by the local doctor a few years earlier, when i had malaria. i felt strongly that it was my karma to pay it forward.
i started with asking around in gokarna, but no one had any idea where to find one. they all mentioned Bangalore, which is the capital of the state of Karnataka, and quite far away.
i started feeling both guilt and a sense of wanting to get away. i had nowhere to hide- to get onto the main street on the way form my guesthouse, i had to pass their corner. i was with them every day, and i felt as if it was beginning to get to much for me.
i was not able to stay out of the suffering of this boy, and i was under the illusion that i could help him.
i felt guilty for having started this whole project of helping with the gari, and now not being able to finish it. if i had really wanted to, i could have taken him on the train to Bangalore, but in fact, i was slowly starting to feel physically ill by the whole situation. it was intense to be inside the life of this family every day for about two weeks.
the last day we were together i took Shiva and his sister to the town beach.
after swimming and playing, we had ice-cream, and the little god-boy was so sweet with the sunset glistening in his eyes and the melting vanilla ice-cream smeared all over his face.
i realised, that thee is nothing i can do to help this boy.
i can only learn from him, and that thing i can learn, is acceptance of the things that i cannot change, and courage to live as fully as possible within the conditions i have been given.
just like he does.