I’m sitting in the kitchen of the program house in Chokati, watching Pembadaai make his signature spaghetti to feed us for lunch at 2. Everyone loves pasta alla Pembadaai, in part because it reminds us all of home, the other part being that its simply spaghetti and tomato sauce, but it is some of the best tomato sauce that is nowhere to be found in the United States.
I miss my mom, this is a PSA. I’m so excited to see you, mom. I was thinking about you a great deal during the trek , and how much I wanted just to hug you and have a short conversation with you. I have no idea whether you would have enjoyed the trek or not, but there’s no way you would have been okay with carrying a backpack with all of your belongings in it for eighteeen days. However, I do not know you as well as I’d like to at this point in our lives either. That is the strangest phenomenon, isn’t it!? I came out of your belly almost nineteen years ago, yet I don’t know you as well as you know me. I know how independent and strong you are, as I’ve taken after these traits, but I’m not sure if you would go trekking for eighteen days.
I remember you told me little about your time in Kathmandu before I left; only that you saw like three fortune tellers, at least one of whom told you the year you would die. I made sure to steer clear of the fortune tellers of Nepal after hearing that. That story was one of many of yours that caught me off guard-one of the ones that you tell myself and my brothers from before any of us existed. These stories are those of a Moosh who was still completely free in the world; a Moosh without a single child, or even the idea of one. Everytime you share stories of this time in your life, I feel a barrier of your motherhood crash down, and I begin to understand what your life might’ve been like before I came into it. I feel closer to you.
My homestay mother in Chokati has been greatly warm to me, yet I can tell she has high standards. This aspect of her reminds me of you. She has this unforgettable tone of voice when she yells down to the neighbors, or when she summons her two sons for breakfast and dinner; a tone of voice that somehow makes me feel closer to her, despite a land of a language barrier. Her smile is another aspect of my homestay mother that I find uniquely warm as well, and that makes me feel safer than I’ve felt since arriving in Nepal. Much like all of the women in Chokati, and in villages in Nepal, she works all day-whether it be to cook, tending to her animals, or walking an hour to work in the fields. It has been a privelege to be able to call this woman my “didi,” the Nepali word for “older sister,” and I hope you know how much she reminds me of you given all of the aspects I’ve listed. She told me I should bring back some spices to the United States for you; clearly she knows you as well as I do. See you soon, Moosh!