May 20, 2006
I know Om Parkash from my Malaysian friend, Lam Li. They met for the first time in World Social Forum in Karachi. Om told Lam to come to Umerkot, as it’s a special place in Pakistan, where most of the population are Hindus instead of Muslims and has desert culture.
Lam Li couldnt go to Umerkot due to her visa problem, so I ‘replaced’ her instead. When I came to Umerkot, it was around 12 pm on May 8, 2006. I was completely exhausted. When I arrived in Parkash’s office, he was not there. He is working in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat, a local NGO, and he was out to the ‘field’ so I waited him.
I was completely exhausted, that I suspect my hepatitis A came back again. When at last Parkash came I was sleeping on the desk of the director’s room, with my saliva everywhere on the desk. I felt embarassed. He took me immediately to his house. His house is big, there are 52 people living there. The interior resembles a hotel with many rooms in rows surrounding a square ground.
Later I found that it was really my hepatitis coming back, due to the heatwave and taking antibiotics in Punjab. I had to take bedrest. A complete bedrest, that I even had to give up my plan to visit the far flung desert villages. I was disappointed, but I was completely weak.
52 people in a family? In Hindu system of extended family, it’s common. Everybody looks after each other. Half of the family members are children. Parkash and two other brothers work by themselves, and in total they earn about 26,000 Rs, which is used to raise the three families together. There were three kitchen, each for one sub-family.
The extended family systems extends to further relations. Parkash uncle is a homopaetic doctor. He gave me a traditional medicine, white powder, and tastes overly sour. He said that this was magic powder. I could be recovered, completely back to white urine and white eyes, in just few days. Parkash also motivated me, by saying that my eyes were normal, not yellow at all. I was sure my eyes were yellow, but this suggestive message also supported my recovery. Hepatitis made me also picky with the food, I only can eat bland food. Parkash thaught her wife to cook Chinese soup, tomato soup with potato, for me. There is a boy, Parkash’s nephew, who served me. His father, Parkash eldest brother, Soresh, was proud of his child as very serving. Everytime I said I was hungry, Madan (the boy) suddenly ran away to the kitchen to tell the women to prepare tomato soup. When I was thirsty, a pot of water in cooler was ready immediately. When I slept, Madan asked other boys to get away from my room (otagh).
In the caring family, I recovered very fast. Not until 10 days, my yellow eyes turned to be white again. Parkash family had a mini shop nearby, selling everything for daily needs. I also often bought stuff from there, with Madan helped me to take everything to my room without me even getting out of the room. In my first days of disease, Parkash even provided TV and DVD player in the room so that I couldnt be bored.
The boys and girls of the family, mostly were very active. One of the boys, was born during the total eclipse. He was the naughtiest boy among the others. They could play football with the pillow in my room when I sleep, or taking pictures with my mobile phone.
At night, when the temperature cool down, Parkash took me to the office to have internet. He never allowed me to go out during hot days, as he worried about my hepatitis. He also suffered hepatitis B before, and it was very heavy that he had 6 month bed rest, his yellowness even turned his clothes to be yellow, and the yellow colour still remains in his eyes until now.
Parkash has spiritual gurus, whom he meets regularly. One of the gurus even has not eating and drinking in last few years due to the success of controlling breathing. Parkash once also did complete fasting for 3 months, but now he had come back to food again.
Soresh, Parkash brother, is the vice director of the NGO. He had broad knowledge about politics and situations of his country, and every night we involved in discussion about the future of Pakistan. At that time we saw on BBC Benazir Bhutto was interviewed after the accord signing with Nawaz Sharif. Soresh was fans of Benazir. He hoped that democracy would really come to his country, as now the military government of Musharaf didnt bring anything good.
At night, the 52 people slept under the open air of the central ground. It was cool, much better than sleeping in the room. After a week of my disease, I also considered to sleep outside. The stars were fantastic, and the cloud in desert area moved very fast, seemed that they were in hurry of chasing something. The wind was very strong, and it’s the reason that sleeping outside was very comfortable.