Dear Amy,

Today’s photo comes courtesy of writer, blogger, and photographer Arvind Passey– check out his IG account @arvindpassey for his work 🙂

TO Amy
Photo Credit: Arvind Passey

Dear Amy,

I’ve arrived in the Mumbai. I don’t know how I let you talk me into this. Wish I was doing just about anything else with my vacation, but here I am.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Today I went to the shop you told me about. The one with all of the sarees. The one I bought is emerald green with gold stitching in a really amazing pattern. I enjoyed the day since I know all the fun ends tomorrow.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

As you requested, I went to the Patels. Though I’m not looking forward to the next two weeks, they were very nice to me. Mr. Patel made sure I got to try vada pav because you said I had to if I ever came here. You weren’t exaggerating when you said it was one of the most amazing things you’d ever eaten.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Mr. Patel told me this morning about your work. How many lives you’ve touched here. When we went to the shelter, one woman came up and told the story of how you had fed her and her child when they were near starvation. She says she’s only alive today because of you. Hearing that, I’ll admit to feeling both pride and, much as I hate to say it, some jealousy. If only I could be cool enough to do the kind of stuff you’ve done. Even so, I’d still rather be chilling on a beach in Maui right now.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Khup divasāt bhetalo nāhi. I know, I know, it’s not written in Marathi, but Mr. Patel told me that’s at least the Romanized version of it since it’s going to take me a lot longer than a day to learn how to write it. The language is beautiful, just like you said. I know I was pretty bad at high school Spanish, but maybe Marathi will come a little easier to me… Ha! Maybe I can learn to fly, too! There would be one benefit to actually applying myself this time, though.  If I learn, I can hear the stories about you in another language, and I think that would be worth some time and effort. And there are so many stories! Do you even know how many lives you’ve affected here?

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Do you remember when we were young, maybe ten or eleven, and Mom asked us to go help out at that soup kitchen place downtown? I threw a hissy fit because it meant I’d miss Becky’s birthday party. I know you were disappointed too, but you said it would be good for us to learn to put others first. Why were you so perfect even back then? I knew you were right, but I still remember sulking the whole time we were serving spaghetti lunches. When Mr. Patel asked me this morning if I wanted to serve lunches at the shelter, my first inclination was to throw a fit like I did way back when. But I didn’t. I went and served. It might not be much, at least not compared to what you’ve done, but know that I’m changing, or at least trying to. Even though you couldn’t come on this trip with me, I pretended you were right there next to me, encouraging me with every scoop of food I ladled out.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Went to Alibag today, and it was glorious. Now, before you start to judge me too harshly, it was Mr. Patel who encouraged me to go for the day. He said you love the beach there, so I had to at least see the place, right? That way we can compare notes when I get home. I took a bunch of pictures so you’ll know how it’s looking these days. I promise that tomorrow I’ll help out at the shelter again. Mr. Patel says my attitude seems to be improving every day. Cool, right? I’ll admit, there’s this kind of warmth that comes with helping these people, like seeing their faces light up at a small plate of food – something I take for granted every day of my life. And the kids! Oh my goodness, they’re about as perfect as perfect can be. Beautiful, brown eyes and these gorgeous faces that light up when they smile. As you know, I don’t normally like being near kids, but I got roped into reading a story to a bunch of them yesterday. They were mostly just interested in the pictures, but I was, too, so I don’t blame them. One little girl even climbed up into my lap and laid her head against my shoulder as I read. I thought my heart was going to melt. Maybe this whole thing isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be…

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

My heart is the lightest it’s been in a long time. The last three days working here, I’ve not even thought of Maui once! I think maybe I’m starting to get why you do this kind of stuff. I went with the Patels to the orphanage today. Though it was hard to see so many young ones without families, the joy they manage to have despite the way their lives have turned out is humbling to say the least. I played a game of soccer with a group of them, and they kicked my butt! One of the boys, Jignesh, moved so fast that he was usually down scoring before I could even figure out where he was. Despite my less than graceful attempts at the sport, there were only a few outburst of laughter at my expense, and those well deserved. Oh Amy, I wish I could bring all of them home with me! We could all squeeze into my two-bedroom apartment, right? And I know you’d tell me how to be a good parent to them, right? Okay, maybe I’d have to upgrade my living situation, but I think it would be well worth it. Only three more days here. I thought I’d be counting down at this point, but honestly, I’m sad it’s coming to a close so quickly. I’ve already checked next year’s calendar to see when I can fit in another trip. Mr. Patel says I’m more than welcome to stay with them again. They really are the nicest family.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Mom and Dad called. What can I say? I feel broken. I know you wanted me to come here, but couldn’t you have held on until I got back? It feels like my heart is being ripped from my chest.

Ellie

———-

Dear Amy,

Today, I walked down an ally and found myself in front of a dilapidated house. Do you remember that barn at Mr. McTuff’s that always looked like it was about to fall over? This place didn’t look too different. An older gentleman sat on a little stand under the house’s awning. He was selling only two things: umbrellas and various glass objects. Vases that probably held roses once upon a time. A big container that may have once held animal crackers or cheese puffs. One of those round bowls like the one Bubbles used to live in. When I saw all of those glasses, Amy, I started crying. Right there in the middle of the street. You always said people were like glass. Able to be recycled over and over again. Never losing clarity or usefulness. More than that, though, you said the biggest similarity was that humans, like glass, can be filled and then poured out as many times as necessary. That we were meant to be filled and poured out. Because what’s the point of life if we don’t pour ourselves, our energy, love, and abilities, into the lives of others? And where’s the joy if we don’t also let others pour their energy, love, and abilities into us? The man at the stand looked so sad. So broken, just like I felt. There was a woman sitting near one of the upper floor windows of the house. She, too, looked beaten down, as if some great tragedy had fallen on the house. She stared out the window as one who had given up all hope. I walked away, Amy. I turned and just walked away from that sadness. From that house. You never would have done that. You would have gone up to that man to see what had happened and how you could help. I’m ashamed that I walked away Amy, and I’m so tired. These last two days since I found out you left us, I’ve been empty. I think all my life I’ve been empty. But I don’t want to live that way anymore. Before I go home tomorrow, I’m going back to that house. I’ll go back, and I won’t break down when I see those pieces of glass again. Instead, I’ll remember your words and your life. Though I feel completely empty right now, I know I’m not. I have more to give. A lot more. I’ll pour out everything I have for others, just like you would have done. Thanks for showing me how to live beyond myself, Amy. I’ll miss you every second of every day.

Ellie.

 

 

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