The Seemingly Perfect Life.
Lawanda means “little wanderer”. Lawanda is not a common name. Her kids thought the name did not suit her because they had never heard any travel story form their mom.
Her friends thought she had a perfect life. A loving husband, beautiful kids, a cosy little home in the suburbs and a thriving career as a food blogger. School , home and work kept her busy. Weekends were fun filled with picnics, games, guests and some restaurant visits for reviews. She couldn’t have asked for more. Her food blog was awarded one of the most read blogs. Her entrees and desserts were equally popular.
But, there were days when this seemingly happy woman would spend hours locked up in her room. Her husband, James took care of everything else during those times. James knew that Lawanda needed that time to recoup herself and get on with life. Kids thought momy was not well and was sleeping in her room.
Lawanda, The Little Wanderer.
Lawanda and her brother Devon had travelled around the world with their parents. Their mom had written down the recipes from across the world in a little red book. When her parents passed away, that was the only prized possession they had left behind. Their travel obsession had left them almost bankrupt and Lawanda had to work two shifts during holidays to finish college. And that little red book was her inspiration to start the food blog.
Lawanda’s parents’ wedding vow was to travel the world. Expansion of the family did not stop them from traveling. Some trips were planned and others were impromptu. They would pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere and eat whatever they could lay their hands on. Life was clearly a journey from one destination to another. Formal schooling did suffer because of their extensive traveling. But that would be a concern for someone who thought schools taught more than life. Lawanda’s parents had no concern.
The Last Destination.
Africa was the last travel destination for the family. Lawanda loved the way her parents planned the trips. There would be an overall plan but no specific ones. A lot was decided on the go. There would never be a dull moment. The family was a close knit team and each one knew what their role was. Lawanda also knew that she had to settle down at one place and finish her college before she could go on her next trip
The trip to Africa was super exciting with various experiences like kayaking on the Nile river in Egypt, visit to the Madagascar island, wilderness experiences in South Africa and Kenya etc. They were excited to camp on the banks of the Nile river. Though some of the locals had warned them against it, they went ahead. Nile river is the longest river in Africa. The two tributaries White Nile and Blue Nile originate in Lake Victoria and Lake Tana respectively and flows a distance of close to 6900 kms before joining the Mediterranean sea. It contains treacherous rapids, and large rocks which can get dangerous.
It was the last day of the trip and they were busy packing. Usually Lawanda and Devon spent the last day filling up their travel diary with all the memoirs they could collect. Their travel books were filled with the most interesting goodies from around the world. Lawanda had the hair strands and feathers of the most exotic animals and birds. She also had pictures of the many monuments that she had been to. Devon found nature’s varied colors more fascinating. His book was filled with sand and mud samples from around the world. He also collected unique leaves and twigs from different trees found in these places.
Next morning, as all of them got ready to leave, they realised that Devon was missing. They looked everywhere. They kept searching. But they never saw him again. Later they found his travel diary and slippers on the river bank. He had probably gone there to collect some soil sample. He never came back and that was the end of the little wanderer’s wandering!
Lawanda never travelled anywhere after that. Her parents decided not to travel but that was like caging up free flying birds. Eventually both of them succumbed to their illness and loss. Lawanda found an anchor in James and she settled down after college.
Lawanda still calls out to Devon in her dreams. Infact, all her dreams are about asking Devon to be careful with water current and about telling him to become a a better swimmer. Her nightmares never stopped. James could tell from her mannerisms when she was nearing a breakdown. He gave her ample space to get over it and come back to normalcy.
The Turning Point.
The new yoga teacher was an instant hit among the gym goers. The weekend yoga class was something they all looked forward to. He connected very well with Lawanda and James.
Lawanda could not close her eyes and sit idle. Her inner turmoil had left her incapable of any inward looking. The yoga teacher was quick to observe it and handed over a couple of books to Lawanda. She realted to a lot of things that she read in those books. She found solace in those books when she woke up from her nightmares.
It was a gradual process but she got hooked on to the books written by yogis from India. That in turn led to a strong urge in her to travel to an ashram(hermitage) in India and experience that oneness with the supreme. James also read these books and liked them. The yoga teacher added fuel to their desire by narrating the spiritual journeys of his students. They finally decided to make a trip to an ashram suggested by the yoga teacher. James was very happy to see that change in Lawanda. He was hopeful of getting back the little wanderer in her.
Kids were dropped off at James’ parents place . Lawanda and James travelled to India. They stayed in an Ashram with a group of foreign tourists. The group had a well planned stay with meditation, yoga, team games, farming, cooking and cleaning in the schedule. In the mornings they would go out for a walk in the neighborhood. The nearest town was a couple of kilometers away.
One day, Lawanda came across a very familiar face. That smile, and those twinkling eyes were known to her. It was like a face that was so etched in memory and still so forgotten. As the little boy came near her, they looked into each other’s eyes and there was an immediate connect. She stopped to ask him his name. “Namastey didi, I am Smaran ” he said. Those eyes pierced her. She felt the same emotion that she had felt years ago on the banks of the river Nile when she picked up her brother’s diary and slippers. Lawanda ran back to the ashram.
She remembered her first conversation with guruji. He had told her that she was at the right place at the right time and that she was nearing a big closure in her life.
Lawanda looked at the picture of her brother. There weren’t any similarities between Devon and Smaran. But something was connecting the two of them. The next day she went to the town in search of this kid. She found him near the river. Lawanda had never gone near a river after that incident. So she stood away from the river and called out to the boy. He came running.
Smaran said” Didi, I have been wanting to meet you since yesterday. I came to the ashram for the satsang (prayer meeting). But you werent there. I wanted to tell you that I am fine and I have learnt swimming. Now I shall not drown.”
Lawanda couldn’t believe what she heard. “What? Why are you telling this to me” .
Smaran said in his very innocent voice ” Because you come in my dream everyday and ask me to be careful. You tell me to learn swimming and to learn it so well that no river can carry me away.”
He picked up a strange shaped banyan leaf that had fallen down and put it into a bag that he was carrying. He said, ” My friends tease me for collecting strange leaves and twigs”. He pointed to the plastic bag that he was carrying.
Lawanda almost froze. She felt a zillion emotions within her. There was anger, there was pain, there was joy, there was longing..But after the waves of emotions subsided, she felt a strange relief. She felt as though a big piece of luggage had been offloaded from her chest. She had never felt lighter. She ran to guruji and told him ” yes guruji, I experienced closure!” She sat there with her eyes closed with a stream of water flowing out of it. This was the first time she could near-meditate. She sat still in guruji’s presence.
Once back home, Lawanda took out the two travel diaries and went through them. She showed it to the kids and told them all about her adventures. She told them about their uncle Devon who would have been a fine young man had he been alive today.
She laminated the pages of the diaries and used them as coffee table books. She bought a similar diary and and posted it to Smaran. She sent a note which read” Dear Smaran, This is a small token of appreciation for learning to swim so well. You can stick all the knick knacks that you collect into this book. I would love to see it during my next visit. Love, Lawanda. “