Why is dust? It is not pretty or useful.
Why is illness? It is not pretty or useful.
And yet here I am. Dusty with illness and that ubiquitous meaningless word - pain.
And yet here I am, loved.
I am kintsukuroi, broken pottery joined by gold dust and laquer. Where the break joins, there is no seamless transition. You can see the suffering and the mechanism of healing. A friend of mine sent me an image of such a bowl made more beautiful by its interesting narrative; she hoped to inspire a poem. But the kintsugi philosophy made me want to write more words than a poem might permit. It has made me think of my broken pieces joined not by stitches and scar tissue, but by the gold dust of love and friendship.
I have always been hesitant to return to India since my diagnosis of lupus in 1997 because I didn't want to return ill. But I am ill, and I am here, and both must be joined somehow. I say I am kintsukuroi not because I am made beautiful, but because I hope such beauty can be possible. Are we all broken and scarred in some places? Then are we not all beautiful? I sat outside for a few moments yesterday, and a cluster of sari and bangle clad women gardeners wove a little circle around me. They were off in the distance one moment, and the next were crouching inches from my feet. One lady asked me the time - maybe she really needed to know. Maybe she just wanted to hear me speak, make a connection. We don't speak the same language - I am in the south of India, where the pace of life is very different from Bombay. But the smiles are the same.
The only difference now is the smiles are not for me - two small figures fascinate their passers by. I am just in the shadow of their smiles. But shadows never looked more beautiful.