Freedom Days

My last days in India. I was in the Ellora caves, sitting against a rock pillar when I saw a foreigner walking towards me with a camera. He asked to take my picture. And I smiled.

After having the summer of a lifetime, I’m back at Penn. Feeling grateful. Feeling stronger. Happy to have good people in my life. They told me there would be the reverse culture shock of returning, but I think that only happens when you haven’t come to terms with the reality that you are returning to. I am the Himalayas even at Penn.

PC: Caro Kee

PC: Caro Kee

There is something so sweet about remembrance—to know that you have experienced something so fully that there is nothing left to experience. I ate more bal mittai than I ever thought I could, I walked uphill so much that I no longer feared it, I let my hair grow so knotted that I stopped caring, I laughed enough times to know that my side would ache, and I saw so many stars- so many nights- that I thought the constellations were imprinted in my brain. But that is nothing and everything at the same time.

I want to paint an image of the truth—but anything less would break my heart. So I haven’t tried yet. To explain to people what I really learned this summer and how I really felt. I tell them about the work I did instead and the fun I had and the places I went because I know that is what they will relate to—even a little before they go back into their own lives and leave me to mine. I keep the secrets to myself…

2 thoughts on “Freedom Days

  1. What a beautiful and poetic post. I hope your semester at Penn is filled with many more of those meaningful moments you had in India 🙂

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About Aardra Rajendran

I'm a recent Bioengineering graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. I will be headed to Chennai, India over this next year to conduct public health work as a Fulbright Student Research Fellow. My interests include Eastern spirituality, medicine and contemporary approaches to healing, hiking, being part-lion/part-owl, and watching the stars at night. Peace.