On the second morning of my arrival at Mother Miracle in Rishikesh, India, a school for the poorest, smartest kids, I’m already deep into scribbling one of the many stories I will write. Suddenly standing before me is Kalpana, the 14-year-old girl I sponsor at the school. Where else in the world would I want to be? In Hindi, the word is darshan, seeing and being seen by the holy. Truly a holy moment for both of us.
Among the little gifts I’ve brought Kalpana is a cardboard Wonder Woman picture frame with a photo of Marcia and me, and Wonder Woman lounging in a corner in what once had been skimpy shorts and bra. Now, for this occasion, she is properly clad in a demure navy blue sari designed by Marcia.
But Kalpana, as it turns out, is the true Wonder Woman in this real-life Mother Miracle scenario.
Children’s Day festivities at Mother Miracle are the highlight of the school year. Who is the girl dancing up a storm to Indian pop music with her best friend Sadhna? Who is all over the dance floor, even dancing with teachers? Who is everyone watching? Kalpana!
Who declares to me, “I can teach you Hindi, and Sanskrit, too, also some computer languages: Scala, Python, Java Script?” Indeed! All Greek to me, but not to Kalpana. “And when I get a really good job, I can support the children at Mother Miracle like you do,” Kalpana says.
Who shyly whispers to me that instead of sneakers or a warm winter coat, she’d rather have a lehenga, a two-piece floor-length sari-like dress, a vision in floaty tulle and satin? Who enters the dressing room 14 years old and emerges at 21, in a pale purple silky dream cloud?
Who, arriving with me at her one-room house, introduces me to her parents, points to Wonder Woman already on the cinder block wall, and draws back the curtain of her family shrine, reverently picking up and naming each god and goddess for me? Kalpana.
When I emerge from a holy experience, from being in a holy space, how wonderful it is that I can bring home a gift to be shared with the world! What is my gift to share? It is Kalpana.