Monday, May 15, 2017

Crow 31 Days: A Gift from a Shop Keeper at the Rambagh Palace

Her name is Siddhakshi. Her name was sent to me over Facebook Messenger from a friend I met in the beautiful little jewelry shop inside the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India. The owner of the jewelry store knows Siddhakshi's family.

She was heading to America, enrolled as a Freshman as an international student at Southern Methodist University. Her parents were hopeful to find someone in Dallas for Siddhakshi to have as an anchor here. I was honored to be her anchor, to ease--even just a little bit-- the unimaginable worry of sending a daughter overseas for nine months.

Baker, my ten year-old and I ventured out to the International Arrivals at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in August of last year. I regretted not making a clever sign for Siddhakshi, but we were there, with flowers in hand, ready to receive this adventurous and curious young lady. After too many hours of travel (alone), she walked through the doors just outside of customs and into our arms: relieved and exhausted. We quickly texted her parents--who were up in the middle of the night waiting for word of her safe arrival.

Siddhakshi was quiet and reserved: I tried to give her an orientation to the city without overwhelming her. It was Sunday afternoon and due to flight schedules she was arriving two days after the international students at SMU, so we enjoyed the unexpected adventure of finding the off-hours welcome desk. As it does, it all worked out, and a couple of hours later, the luggage, which eclipsed her tiny frame, was all moved into her new home.

Today, nine months later, I helped Siddhakshi move some items to our house for storage over the summer while she goes back to India. I marveled at the blossoming in her over the academic year. She was completely at ease as we stood in the place we unloaded her luggage in August. This young lady is nine months and some years older, wiser, even more amazing than the day I met her.

She excelled in her course work--taking 18 hours in the fall. She joined clubs and organizations, offered to stay with our boys, helped me at the museum and attended some of our Compassion Dinners last fall.

She is everything: smart, curious about the world, enterprising and fiercely determined to get the most out of her opportunity to be in college in Dallas, Texas. I wish I could say she needed me this year, but she really didn't. She coped with homesickness, culture shock, rigorous course work and the complications of being an international student in 2017 with grace and ease: Siddhakshi never asked me for anything.

So the irony in all this is that, while I didn't get to see her as much as I hoped to, she became my anchor. She taught me what real courage looks like. She shared her fearless heart with all of us. My dear husband will take her back to Terminal D (the International Terminal) in a couple of days and she will fly home to a family waiting for her most anticipated arrival.

How grateful I am to have walked into that jewelry shop before boarding our bus back to New Delhi in January of 2015. The real jewel I got that day is Siddhakshi, a young lady we plan to treasure as part of our family for a very long time. 

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