I had thought I would never see him again.
It had be months, maybe even years since I’d seen him last. An eternity had passed since I’d received a letter. Not that they had come like clockwork previously. I’d never be expecting one on a certain date or hanging out for a particular time of month. But they came eventually, oh yes, they came.
Carefully handwritten and sharply folded, they shared the news from his day. The ins and outs of his life, the melodies and harmonies that made up the music of his world. Precious details I so wanted to hear when miles and miles stood between us.
But it had been a long time. A very long time. No news. No new photo. Not a word.
I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I saw the envelope – square and white with the all-identifying orange swish in the corner. A typewriter-written address. An Indian stamp.
Yes, that’s right. Today I finally received a letter from my Indian sponsor child (who were you thinking?!)
Actually, not so much a letter than a mini booklet. There were details about his school, his favourite activities and his family. Clearly, much of the booklet had been filled in by a project worker – the neat, black cursive, in English, gave it away.
But on the last page was a box, entitled ‘My expression to you’. An opportunity for my sponsor child to draw or write a special message to me, his sponsor.
Of course, you can imagine my surprise when I turn to this page and find two carefully drawn swastikas. Yes, that’s right. No scribble of a family and their house, no Indian scrawl, not even a drawing of a car or bike or tree or anything.
Two of them.
It was then my ever-creative imagination kicked into overdrive — “My $43 per month is not building wells, or implementing agricultural training, or providing education, but being used to run an Indian Nazi training camp – what was I thinking?!”
The realisation of the impossibility of an Indian Nazi group then hit and I calmed down. And like any confused soul, I turned to Google. Which kindly and calmly informed me that in Indian culture, the swastika is used to refer to universal welfare. My kid is no Nazi, he just wants world peace.
World peace. I sighed a sigh of relief.