If the Guiness Book of Records took entries for Aamaas who had rarely left their villages in Nepal and had the most friends living in the U.S., our Aamaa would win by a landslide. I don’t even know how many people have been to Kaskikot to eat in Aamaa’s kitchen in the last decade and a half, but it’s an impressive cohort of my friends and family, even if you don’t count all the tourists that Prem bhinaju brings by. We wanted Aamaa to get to see as many of them as possible here in their natural habitat. I put out a call for visitors.
My friend Jackie drove all the way down from Maine to meet Aamaa in Connecticut. We went to a hot air balloon festival and ate ice cream.
“We should go. It will be dark soon,” Aamaa clucked.
“The whole point is to see the balloons lit up in the dark!” Bishnu and I objected.
“It’s night,” Aamaa countered logically. The fact that everyone isn’t basically inside by dark is one of the features of American life that Aamaa seems to find continually alarming. As a side note, she has been busting my chops for being out after dark in Kaski for fifteen years.
We had dinner (after dark) with my friends Heather and Abigail and their son Teddy. Heather was in Nepal with a group of my friends in 2010 for a big hiking trip. I took Aamaa to my IMT clinic, where she was received like a celebrity by all of the therapists. Of course, Aamaa knows all about IMT because in 2013 we did a major manual therapy project in Kaskikot based on the model we use in our oral health program, and three of my IMT therapist friends spent a few weeks in Nepal.
For the weekend, we went shopping in a grocery store (what?), got our nails done, did our hair, cooked an insane amount of Nepali food, and had an all day Aamaa-Rama party. Will, Lissa and Catherine, the therapists who’d come for the IMT project in 2013, came in from Boston and D.C. Dr. Keri, my cousins Robert and Audrey, and my friends Mona and Todd all made long drives to meet Aamaa. I set up a slideshow to play through photos and we sat around all afternoon seeing friends.
The next morning, Bishnu and Aamaa packed their things to drive down to D.C. to stay with Bishnu and my parents. Will and Lissa came over for breakfast, and then we put everything in Catherine’s Mini Coop and I stood on the sidewalk. Aamaa got in the car an buckled her own seatbelt.
At last, it came…that withdrawing feeling that I am used to having in the front yard of our gentle orange house in Kaski. Like a fishnet has been tied around my insides and is being pulled away by the force of a world that cannot come with me. The thing is that usually I am on the other side of it, moving away from an anchor and feeling that world slip away as I leave.
This morning, I was the one standing on the porch, watching the color and sound move out in to the road.
“This is no fun,” I mumbled. I would be going down to Maryland down to my family in a week. But suddenly it felt like I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been alone.
“No kidding,” said Aamaa in her matter of fact, unsentimental way. “That’s what I do. Everyone leaves and it’s not fun and I sit and cry.” And it’s true. Every time a group of us come to Kaski, we leave.
“Nice job with the seatbelt,” I noted. “See you guys next week.”
They pulled off in Catherine’s car, and I waved, like Aamaa always does, and went back in to my house to think of something to do.