POVERTY in the RUINS…

POVERTY in the RUINS…

Beautiful sunrise
Clear blue skies clouds breaking away
Near complete stillness
No pollution
Pedi cabs, elephants roam
Little morning noise.
Kandy

I awake to tea on my patio
5am

1982

My plan to walk
Down the road
To the Hindu Temple.

Void of traditional yellows, reds, orange colors….
This temple has open grounds with grass.
Grey statues of stone.
Ornate.
Not what I expected but what I want to visit first.

I walk.
I talk to merchants.
More smiling and laughing than talking.
I speak no Tamil.
I speak English.
We have ‘eye talk’

I arrive at the Temple…
Serene feeling.
Calm.
Grass less lush than I expect for tropical environment.
No people
Emptiness of the morning.
Surprise.
Puts me in cautionary mode.
To be safe.
As a woman walking alone.
Streetwise San Franciscan never takes risk.
So my ears are clear to listen for danger.

Turned corner
A woman walks towards me.
She in rags
Barefoot
Dark
Dirty
Something not right.
Something different, even in the distance.
I can’t make out why.

She strides to me
Assertively
Not afraid
Not with any fear
But alone.
She smiles, as she gets close enough for me to see her
Face to Face
A Hole in her nose
Half the mouth missing
Finger tips amiss….
But her eyes alive.
In spite of her condition,
Her soul still beams
Through her

I don’t know what to think.
I am taken back but I by instinct and training do not step back
I understand to be sensitive
I know she is suffering.
However, it hits me….

Leprosy
1981
Real not in a text book
Female
30’s

Second woman appears
Hand out stretched with soiled glove
Money please…

Glared eyes radiating on me.
I walked with no money —-no bills
I always walk with only coins, less than one USD.
I wish for more….

Easy to hand over so little.
Harder to know what to do for these diseased burdened women.
How does one alleviate this?

Poverty in the ruins…

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