…the greatest of these is love
I Corinthians 13:13
Ankit nudged me back so he could shut the door. He knocked several times loudly to wake up the father. We finally heard stirring in the room and he came to the door. He partially opened it and smiled at both of us, motioning for us to come in. He and Ankit exchanged a few words in Nepali. I eased my way into the room and sat down on the bed opposite where Manisha had been jumping. There was an awkward moment of silence. I wanted Manisha’s father to put some clothes on his daughter.
I asked Ankit to ask him if he had any clothes for her. Raj, her father, smiled politely and grabbed a pair of blue, ragged looking denim trousers. They were well-worn and dirty, about three sizes too big, but I was glad for anything.
Manisha was playful and warm. Her face was more light complexioned than her arms and legs, which looked dry from lack of good nutrition. She had round, deep brown eyes. Nepalis look more Indian than Chinese. Her father pulled out of his pocket what appeared to be a small bottle of oil and stroked some of it into her short, straight, dark brown hair. I wondered why he had done that.
She turned her attention to Ankit and they played a silly game. She pretended to hide something she had made into a toy. I felt left out but enjoyed watching them, impressed at how happy and content she was.
There were no toys or snacks in the room. There was nothing for her to entertain herself with, but she had made a toy and was happy to share it with us.
After a while, I got up the nerve to ask if I could hold her. Her father smiled and nodded. A warm and engaging person, I would learn later Manisha was much like him. He was about my height in stature with curly dark hair and glasses. His glasses were the most noticeable feature besides his smile. I immediately took a liking to him.
Ankit passed Manisha over to me and I held her in my lap. I couldn’t believe how light she was. She was tiny for three years at twenty-three pounds. She laughed and giggled as I bounced her on my knee. Ankit and Raj watched intently which made me nervous. I asked if I could walk around with her outside. They both said, “Yes, that would be good.”
I picked her up and we walked down the stairs. As we stepped outside, the sun’s rays enveloped us in a severe brightness after being in the dark building. Some nearby birds sang a whimsical melody of enchantment. I was smitten by love! Alone at last with my new daughter, I was overcome with emotion. I walked over to some flowers and pointed to one and said “flower.” I picked it off and gave it to her. We walked around the building several times. I pointed to the chirping birds and said “bird.” The few minutes with her in my arms seemed like a dream from which I didn’t want to awake. She was content and beaming.
Because she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Nepali, I gazed into her eyes and tried to imagine what she might be thinking. Did she have any idea who I was? I did not know what her father had told her. I longed to talk to her but I would have to be patient. Most of all, I wanted to remember how special the day was.
On this day, as we picked flowers, admired the birds, and basked in each other’s company for the first time, I realized that God had heard my cries for a daughter.
“…what hath God wrought” (Numbers 23:23)!
After a while, Raj and Ankit came outside. They had been discussing plans. I started to realize how late it was in the day and how hungry I was.
“Could we get something to eat?” I asked.
Neither Ankit nor Raj seemed particularly interested in food. They were talking about documents and legal things that needed attention. Tiredness was on the verge of sapping the last ounce of energy within me. I needed to eat something.
After much discussion in Nepali, Ankit translated.
“We’re going to go to my house and get some papers and documents signed.”
I acquiesced without any more mention of food. At least I could use the bathroom. He flagged down a taxi for Manisha and me to ride in and Raj rode behind Ankit on his motorcycle. Manisha seemed content to stay with me rather than her father, so I was happy to keep her.
We arrived at Ankit’s house and he took us up some stairs to one of the bedrooms. I sat down on the wooden floor and they sat on the bed. Ankit was holding a folder with some papers. Manisha, like any active three year old, wanted to run around. So I set her down and she ran out into the hallway.
I could hear a woman’s voice talking to her. It was fretful that I couldn’t understand so much of what was being said.
Ankit spoke English well and would translate for me when I looked at him questioningly. Apparently Manisha didn’t like the picture of the white monkey in the hallway, so it was promptly removed.
Now that we were here and things had settled down, I told him again I needed to use the facilities. He called for one of the ladies in the home and she came and took me to the bathroom.
“Thank you,” I said politely, not knowing whether she understood me or not, only to discover as I closed the door there was no toilet paper.
Sheepishly and somewhat embarrassed, I went back to Ankit.
“There isn’t any toilet tissue.” I would have preferred to have told one of the women, but I didn’t think they spoke English.
In typical Nepalese inflection, he translated into Nepali for one of the women to bring me some toilet paper. By now my stomach was really hurting. So I asked if they could also bring me some food.
After I used the facilities, I saw they had brought me a couple of crackers and a glass of water. I focused on the water and all I could think was what I had been told before I left home. Don’t drink any water unless it’s in a bottle.
Again, I went back to Ankit, “Do you have any bottled water?”
“No,” he said. “We don’t have any bottled water.”
There ensued a great deal of discussion in Nepali. I felt like I had caused everybody a great deal of inconvenience, but after a while, another young lady showed up with some bottled water. I thanked her as best I could.
I thought to myself, Lori, try not to cause any more trouble. You have caused enough for one day.
On a more personal note, I wondered, do they not use toilet paper around here? What about when it’s that time of the month?
I know, too much information.
After a few bites of food, I made myself comfortable on the floor. Ankit handed me what seemed like volumes of documents. Unfortunately I had never been good at filling out papers. I made several errors and could tell he was a little upset. He left the room to retrieve something akin to white out to blot out all of my mistakes, mumbling something to the effect, “It’s important to not make mistakes on the documents.”
There were too many papers. I did not feel like answering any more questions. I was preoccupied with watching Manisha and her father. Everyone was talking in Nepali as I continued to fill in blanks.
There were a lot of personal questions.
“Do I have to answer all of this?” I asked.
Ankit explained, “You did the American side in the States. Now you have to do the Nepali side.”
I had no idea what was in store for me. This was just the beginning.
After what seemed like a long time, I finished answering everything.
Ankit asked me, “Would you like to take Manisha with you? It’s okay with the father.”
I glanced at him who nodded approvingly.
After a few seconds, however, I realized how stressed and tired I was. Jet lag was beginning to take its toll and I knew I needed another day.
“I think I should wait till tomorrow. I need a good night’s sleep.”
I am offering a special edition signed copy of my adoption memoir, Children of Dreams. To learn how to get a copy visit: http://lorilynroberts.com/donate_christian_books_to_nepal.html