Swagatam

By , Larkspur, CA
I walk the dirt-covered streets of India, captivated by the remarkable setting, immersed in the startling culture. I’ve dreamt about visiting a country with such compelling diversity and such elegance ever since I made my very first Indian dinner. Legs aching from beneath me, I find myself sitting in a small restaurant, fragrant aromas dancing from the stovetops. A woman comes from behind the counter, her eyes swimming with possibility, her face overworked and tired. I smile and give her my order. She nods and turns away, her frail body escaping to the clattering kitchen. I would have been jealous of the emaciated body, and I would have envied her. Moments later, a plate returns, bursting with smells so rich and alive with culture. Every spice working in perfect balance, as each bite glides gently in mouth, and awakening each one of my taste buds. The flavor was undeniable and beautiful. My mind was immersing itself in the culture of where I was. The music playing from outside, the dirt covered roads, the majestic buildings standing tall out in the blistering sun, and the people, living a life so different than mine. I was different from them, and today, I was no longer ashamed of it. I embraced my uniqueness. At long last I felt connected through my mind to my body. For the first time in a long time I felt alive. I finished the meal because I wanted to, and not because I was forced to. I ate without E.D.

The saddest part was that I loved him. I loved E.D. He understood a part of me that even I didn’t understand. He was thin, forceful, and beautiful. I thought he was the perfect man. He almost killed me. He no longer controls the reigns of my life. He ceases to exist within every bite I take. I stand tall, and proud. I finally left eating disorder.

The cool breeze running wildly through my hair, flip flops in one hand, camera in another. Soft and potent waves break delicately on the beach while the sun yawns from behind them. My feet are being tickled by the cold sand. I stand up straight; I stand up on my own. It’s just me, the wind, and the waves. The waves tumble to shore with such elegance. The waves are their own being, singing songs in the water that can be heard faintly from ashore. A melodic chorus pours over every grain of sand, but are only heard if you are really listening. I never realized there was such beauty in places like the beach, and I never realized there was such hope in waters so daunting and mysterious. I never knew there was hope in me; much less beauty. I am living hope, I too break and disappear into the sand, and I too sing quiet songs only I can hear. I am strong and forceful, I survive harsh winds. I am hopeful, and inside, I am beautiful. Every night there were two things on my mind. I longed to live underneath the water, where I moved with such gracefulness that only the fish can judge me. I dreamt of escaping to a land as foreign and mysterious as India. I never thought being different was something to be proud of.

Who are you? What makes you unique? Why do people like you? Look at me, and ask me the same questions. My reply will simply be, “I don’t know.” I don’t know who I am, I’m still learning more and more every day. Every day is faced with new challenges and obstacles that have yet to define me as a person. People see me, they hear me, they live with me, and every day, I pray that they love me. Every coming day is my future; every breath I take is moving my body forward in time. Sometimes, I’m scared of what is to come. My future has possibilities. I have freedom to live a life without fear of myself. I’m not scared of the reflection in the super market window anymore, and that in itself is a future that I longed to have.





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