On our trip to Tawang in September, I was meeting trippers at Guwahati airport. Amidst the introductions came a shyly smiling girl, Divya Damania from Daman. Next few days, I learnt multiple things about her. That Divya puts aside shyness to participate in conversations. That she is a talented painter. That she’d recently suffered & was now chasing happier times.
During one conversation we spoke about birthdays. She mentioned she hadn’t celebrated in the last 2 years; she was gifting herself this trip for her birthday. It was on the 3rd day. We were in a place called Dirang where we couldn’t find a cake. But we had to make her cut something at 12! As the group was playing Mafia, 2 of us excused ourselves and made a cake of chocolates &sponge cake. At 12 we entered the room and Divya flashed her big smile. The music was turned on, the lights were turned off; we welcomed Divya’s birthday in our tiny little disco in a room in Dirang.
In the day we visited Sangti Valley. As we splashed away in the water, I asked the group to sing for our b’day girl on the hanging bridge. We were uncoordinated but hey we sang! For the evening we’d planned a bonfire but sadly it rained. I got after the group to write her messages. Travelling with strangers is a leap of faith and I want to highlight how people become friends with unknown faces in unknown places. 3 days into the trip, 19 strangers wrote Divya notes. Her bright smile returned as she stated she’d keep the notes forever.
Through the week Divya opened up herself in conversations, participated in impromptu dances, fell clumsily ?, chased little kids for pictures, clicked everyone’s pictures, stayed up late each night and made the most of everything. Divya wants to set up an exhibition of her paintings and use the money to fund a child’s education. Here’s a girl who has suffered but selflessly wants to help.
The last day she again came smiling to me at the airport, gave me a little Buddha & a big hug. She will join me again someday. We’ll again play games & talk, laugh as she trips, discuss her paintings & celebrate more. The last image is a doodle by her of her experience! To Divyia Damania from Daman – her strength & spirit.