LETTER HOME, written on November 2, 1984
Sacram is my favorite person in this village. I met him on the night of my arrival, a big event on my host-family street. All the neighbors came and welcomed me with a barrage of questions: What is your name? Where are you from? Are you married? Tired from the long bus ride that day, their rapid-fire questions may as well have been Chinese
Only one person in the throng realized why the foreigner was so bewildered. Sacram came forward, sat beside me, took my hand, and proceeded to translate the questions into slow, simple Nepali. His gentle patience enabled me to introduce myself properly to the villagers.
A slight man, though strong as the bamboo, Sucram comes to visit me every day. He gladly explains his culture. Without embarrassment he explains the difference between my high-caste host family and himself, a low-caste laborer.
He shows me the tiny hut where he lives. He points out the fields he is employed to plow, and laughs when I mention how hard his life must be. He produces a rupee from his pocket and insists on buying me tea. Hospitality is more important than money. From Sucram, my cross-cultural guru, I am learning how Nepalis innately find their lives worthwhile.
A few days ago he surprised and shocked me, as he told me why he would not answer my letters from post. Sucram doesnt read or write! Of course he never went to school; he has always worked in the fields. But how can a man so sensitive, thoughtful, and helpful be illiterate? Another American assumption is shattered!
Yesterday he surprised me again. Instead of visiting me last night, he went to a class, he said, to learn to read and write! I went with the boy next door to meet Sucram, and arriving before the session ended, we saw the students reclined in the yard, writing by the light of a single kerosene wick lamp. Sucram was working diligently, learning the script of his beautiful language.
Oh Sucram, my friend, Nepals unsung hero. Amid your life of low position you find room to laugh. Amid your life of little money you have a generous heart. Amid your life of little opportunity you strive to better yourself. What a privilege and blessing for me to know you. I know not how to thank you for your friendship, but it is truly a wonderful thing.