The Middle Girl

Aamaa talks often about my departure now. She’s worried about being left alone when Didi also leaves to join Bhinaju in Pokhara, which will be happening any day now.  And of course, Bishnu will stay in the city as long as she can, to study for her 12th grade exam.  It’s so strange to think that when I first arrived a year and a half ago, Aamaa and Didi and Bishnu were so intimately bound here in Kaskikot, and now Didi is married, and Bishnu is studying, and we are all wondering what Aamaa will do when I leave for the U.S. in a few weeks.  It’s strange that despite everything, it’s my departure, of all things, that will thrust her in to real solitude for the first time.

The wheat harvest, with the lack of fanfare it has produced, has been a kind of seal for us.  It’s fun to be exotic to one another.  But as crazy as it sounds, one day we looked around and found that something had tipped over.  Today I did housework on my own most of the day, with no direction: watering the buffalo, doing dishes, pounding wheat, moving goats.  Just because it was there and needed to be done.  The fact that nobody’s all hot and bothered about these feats anymore feels…strange.  It’s an entirely new reality, for all of us.

“Everyone is saying to me, ‘Don’t let your mailie go,’” Aamaa said in the late afternoon, while Didi and I were lying on the beds inside, writing, and she was on the porch pounding wheat.  Mailie means middle girl.  “Your maile does all this work around the house,” they’re saying.  “She brings you good food, she helps you all the time.  Don’t send her to America.”

Didi interrupted Aamaa mid-sentence to ask me something from her book, but Aamaa doggedly re-commanded my attention.  She wanted to make her point.  I looked at her through the doorway.

“Other people have said that?” I asked.  Despite myself, I was delighted. I realize I had no business being here, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve taken some knocks.

“A lot of people,” Aamaa sighed. “When you go, I won’t be able to say anything, so I’m saying it now: raamro sanga jannus, eh?

Go well, okay?

I lay on my tummy on the bed with my head near the door, where Aamaa resumed pounding wheat.  I was writing a poem and story and speech I’ll recite at my school farewell if I get one.  And then where will I go?  Where on earth does a person go from here?



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