Heart pain, ii.

Read “Heart pain, i” here.

© Noelle Garnier, 2012

One afternoon, the secondary school boys entertained us (and themselves) by pouring water over their heads and spiking their hair into fauxhawks, which they deemed “American.”

I told Pavi how much I liked his hairstyle. “Will they let you wear it like this every day?”

He shook his head. “No… I’ll try!”

I told him that I have a brother his age who also spikes his hair and wants be an engineer.

“Will he come to India?”

“He should sometime.”

“Will you come back next year?”

At this point, I could already sense that I would be unable to stay away from this haven of love and simplicity for long. But I tried not to make unstable promises.

“I hope so. I’ll try hard.”

He shook his head emphatically.

“No. Not try. Must you will come back.”

And the question was no longer how or when or whether I could return, because I knew as well as he did that I must.

The question was how I could leave.

Because availability of power is limited in some parts of India, “current” outages were an expected occurrence twice daily in our village. (If you’ve never been in the middle of a crowded street and watched an entire town black out at once, it’s strangely enchanting.) These outages temporarily halt you wherever you are, especially in rural areas where generators are not waiting to be switched on. So our last evening before leaving Semmandakuppam found me in the middle of a handful of secondary school boys, faces outlined by blueish cell phone light. The sun had set long ago, and stars shone above the coconut trees like dust shaken off celestial sandals.

“Count the stars,” Pavi urged, as he had several times that week.


“Good exercise for the eyes!” There was an echo of affirming voices.

“Okay.” I started counting, then quit like a typical American. “You count, Pavi! I cannot count all those stars!”

He laughed and began tracing a trail.

“It is all like, grace of God.”

The current came back on.

In that village, that moment, that life, when the lights went out too soon, plans were set aside for heaven-knows-how-long, and expectations couldn’t bring the current back, he looked at the stars and saw the grace of God. 

Maybe we understand when we no longer know.
Maybe we find strength when we start being weak.
Maybe we enter the kingdom of heaven when we become like children.
Maybe we behold glory when we stop shielding our eyes from the least of these.
Maybe we see light in the absence of current.


7 thoughts on “Heart pain, ii.

  1. Americans are notorious for hating even the slightest of inconveniences. If only we learned to live like this… to exercise our eyes and see the grace of God whenever the lights go out indefinitely, instead of wasting our time grumbling and making ourselves feel worse.

    “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
    ~ G.K. Chesterton

  2. I liked the way you described the emotional part of the post.. And I totally appreciate your effort to share it to the world ..!
    But here I’ve something else to say..
    Sorry for commenting like this(so long).. You can ignore this (delete it)-if you feel like this person is speaking out something senseless !!
    India is not just limited to the places where you have visited.. Its a vast country..
    I agree that there are many places in India where people are still suffering from the curse of darkness due to the lack of sufficient power plants.. But that doesnt mean that everyone is having “current outage” daily?? There are places in India where “current outages” are very very rare like any other developed nations..!! The way you mentioned below reflects like the whole nation is facing a similar problem?? Doesnt It ?? Remember that Your blog posts are mostly read by Non-Indians! And this gives them a real bad impression about our country..!! Pointing out our deficiencies are always welcome..! But before citing them, please make sure whether they are true to all extents!
    -may be “current” outages are an expected occurrence in the place where you have visited.. And that certainly is a disgrace to the nation..But you should’nt mention it in a sense that the whole nation is having same problem! I am not telling we are developed.. But we are not under developed either!!
    And let me tell you that I’m currently sitting and reading this blog in a deep rural village situated at Wynad-a hilly district-in the state Kerala.. Which is indeed a part of India..! And even in this place the phrase you mentioned “current outages” has sometimes turned out to be a rare phenomenon..!
    Thank You..!

    Due to insufficient availability of power in India, “current” outages are an expected occurrence twice daily.

    • Sanju,
      I appreciate your comment — thank you for reading! The towns I visited (especially Dharmapuri, Salem, and surrounding villages) had power outages twice daily, and someone explained it as conservation of limited power resources. Of course, there was no such problem in Mumbai, and I’m so glad to hear that there are even portions of rural India where you don’t lose power. (I have re-worded the quoted sentence for clarity.) India is sublime and I cannot wait to return.


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