Today was hard

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today was hard. It’s about 100 degrees and there’s no way to escape the heat. You're constantly drenched and dripping in sweat from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, which for me has only been a few hours each night because I’m hot and restless and stressed and itchy and sweating so much. The kids all got hit with viral fevers and they’ve been dropping like flies. I wake up to them tossing and turning next to me in bed and douse them in cold water. I sleep under a blue mosquito net and can hear the hundreds of mosquitos buzzing on the other side of the net, so loud and so close that I wake up and swear they must have gotten inside. I turn on the light and scour the net. Sometimes I find a few mosquitos that got inside and sometimes it's just my imagination. The cycle repeats itself all night long. Bugs don’t usually bother me. Not even the big flying cockroaches or the spiders. I’ve gotten used to them over the years. There’s a sweet little family of geckos that live in my room. I don’t have TV so my nighttime entertainment is reading and watching the geckos go after the bugs on the ceiling.

As clean as we keep the house, I swear we’re always fighting an infestation of sorts; scabies or lice or roaches or mice. The flies and mosquitos are so constant, I don't even notice them anymore. But this week the bugs crossed a line. Bedbugs. They’re everywhere.They’re embarrassing.They're nearly impossible to get rid of and they’ve gotten into all the kids mattresses and bedding in every single room in the house. I really don’t know what to do. We’ve tried natural cures, and putting everything out in the sun, and fumigating with chemicals. It’s been feeling like a hopeless cause lately. I'm tired and grossed out. We’re taking it on again this weekend, moving all the kids out, floor by floor and going after them once again.

I really just wanted to get caught up on work today. I sent the kids off to school and showered and found lice in my hair and sat down at my computer only to realize that the internet was out. I walked over to the school office, drenched in sweat, and tried over and over again to get on the internet, while one by one people drifted into the office and Tope and I problem solved. By noon, I hadn’t gotten anything on my list done and I was feeling discouraged and sweaty and itchy so I walked over to school lunch which was a hot plate of rice and lentils and mushy eggplant that I just couldn’t stomach, so I walked home. On the walk to and from my office I got stopped three times by people telling me sad story after sad story and asking if I could help. I try to be patient and listen. I tell them I’ll think about it and do what I can, but the truth is, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t feel like I can take in any more kids or any more cases right now. It’s all too sad and it's one of those days where the problems feel like too much.

At home the internet comes back. I send the email I’ve been meaning to send to our architect for days and fill out paperwork for Nisha, and don’t let myself go on Facebook because I swear it feels like every single one of my friends is either at a bachelorette party or just had a baby and I don't want to compare today. I finally get into my inbox and boom just like that, my computer shuts off and crashes for no reason. The sweat is dripping down my face. My entire body is sticky. I’m miserable. I miss my baby and I'm angry at the world, so I give up.

I go into my room, fall into my mattress and fall asleep. I wake up to the sounds of my children coming home from school through the gate and getting their snack, the homework bell, and a fresh cup of tea. I go at it again. I have a meeting with a government officer about a partnership to create for a safe house for girls because I just lost another student to child marriage and I’m so. sick. of. it. I'm sick of a lot of things.

I’m watching my neighbor die. She lives a few houses up the street under a piece of plastic the size of a closet. She has six daughters, 4 of whom have gone to our school. I've watched them grow up. I see how numb and scared they are. The three little ones come to eat at our house every day so they aren't hungry. It’s been a long battle. I’ve tried everything from blood transfusions to medications, treatment in India and Nepal Ganj but it’s officially the end. It’s a matter of hours or days. I know this because her face is turning black, and she can barely breath, or stand or move. The hospital sent her home. She is suffering and shaking and in tremendous pain. She weighs 40 pounds and can’t eat food anymore and the only thing I can do is get her an oxygen tank and sit there and hold her hand and look into her terrified eyes and promise it’s going to be okay. For the first time in a very long time I look at her and know it's time to stop fighting. I just want her out of pain.

Sitting there and holding her hands while she rests her forehead on my shoulder I realize just how little everything else seems to matter now. The heat, the bedbugs, the lice, the mosquitos, the internet going in and out, my unanswered emails, the bachelorette parties. I’m still here. I still have a body and I have my children and I can hear them breathe as I write this. I got home from my dinner meeting tonight and found them all huddled together in the little kids’ barbie pink room telling stories and giggling. I laid down and listened and laughed and breathed them in before turning off the light and singing them to sleep. The line between life and death is so fine and while I'm standing on this side I just want to love and love and love and love some more. I really don't know what else to do. -Maggie

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