A gesture of Thanksgiving! Its Christmas Season :)
"The best moments in Life are those that are not Photographed in a Camera but in the Eye of one's Memory"
This part of my experience is something I would cherish forever. It is the best moments of my life in Zambia. I found pure unconditional non-judging love during my period of stay. A love that expects nothing but love in return, a love that doesn't judge or read between the lines of your never ending conversations, a love that is as pure as the streams of water in the Himalayas, Unpolluted, non-corrupted. You must be wondering why I named my archive of experiences in Zambia as ‘BRAI’.
BRAI in Zambia is a celebration. A celebration of togetherness and friendship. It means African Steak Barbecue. Brai is a celebration that happens occasionally in families among friends, where a Barbecue is set outside the house and steak is cooked. It is a celebration with food, wine and Music. As they get immersed in the influence of wine and the delicacy of steak, the members of the celebration forget all their inhibitions and enjoy the music and express the joy of togetherness by dancing and playing games..
That was my first truly Zambian experience. The freedom to let your body dance to the combination of Man’s and Nature’s Music. To dance forgetting all inhibitions and to not be shy is one great feeling of Freedom that only an Indian Girl can relate to. Having come from a so called cultural society that controls natural feelings of a human to let one’s body loose, dance and feel one with nature out in public during anytime of the day, the day I experienced my first perfectly planned BRAI was exceptional and its something I will cherish as a lifelong memory.
It all began when I broke the rules of my “Prison” and went out to be friends with my students, Oh wait! They were technically not my students. I never taught them and they were out of school by then. So let me call them my dearest Friends. Yes. The day I started having the best moments with my Friends. The day all my inhibitions were broken. The day all my judgements were crushed down into pieces. The day I felt that I could receive non-judgy Love of friendship.
I went to meet my friends around 14:00. We had all the ingredients and all participants ready for the Brai. I must appreciate that my friends were skilled in the household chores unlike me. The culture of the land teaches their children to be self-sufficient and do all the household chores on their own. Even during my lecture sessions I have exchanged views about this aspect of Zambia.
Most of us in India spend time appreciating or criticizing our Mom’s Culinary skills. While most girls learn Cooking before or immediately after Marriage, and most Men learn only the basic cooking necessary for survival and it is the mother of the family who always takes care of feeding each and every person in the Family, even after the Changing trends of Gender Roles in the present scenario this concept of rearing children to be self-sufficient in house-hold chores has not yet come to practice and I sometimes doubt it it will ever be for our culture is imbibed of Patriarchy at all levels.
My dear Indian readers, please don’t get offended that I am letting you down, lets face it, how often do we help mothers in Kitchen or we take responsibility of the house-hold chores and give her a long holiday to sit back and rest? I can say only a countable hands will raise for an Yes. I do appreciate that changing attitudes of our Millennials. However, it is going to take a whole lot of time for a complete change of attitude. This culture of Zambia literally made go awestruck, especially when I noticed kids of 6 and 7 years making their own Nshima or when they walk all by their own in the roads not expecting Mom to carry which I have rarely done during my childhood.
My friends were excellent cooks with almost a decade’s experience. The Brai was set up in the open area outside our room in their boarding house and the coal was added and the fire was lit. The fire for letting my spirit free was lit! It was as if even Mother nature wanted to join us in the Party when it started Pouring. What best combination can you find for a life-long memory? Friends who show non-judgy Love, Non-Veg Food (for a TamBrahm), Wine (or was it Liquor? I leave that to your imagination :P), a combination of heat from the Brai Stove and the Chillness of the Weather, Music, Dance, Games and RAIN. I don't know if my words can walk you through the exuberant experience that I had that day.
Shots after Shots, Dancing for the music of Rain and Electronic Speakers, Listening to your heart for the best of times, the day was a mixture of realizations of realities in life. I was fully engrossed in the feeling that the day should never come to an End or I am not going back. To add on to the fun, I got Tipsy (Lol!) and broke my CURFEW. The only doors that can lock me back into the judgmental, loveless, barren, lonely, shackled life was finally for once Broken. That was the ultimate of the Freedom. I knew of the problems I would face for breaking rules. I have always been fond of Breaking Rules and Stereotypes. It is a crazy energetic feeling. This day was added to the list or perhaps one of the Kind, in the Craziest things I have done in My life. I look forward for many.
I was drawn into mixed feelings of fear of getting caught (though I didn't want to be a spoil sport!), the best of happiness, the hard and painful realization of the Temporary nature of life. The bridge I crossed to see the mature me with Acceptance to anything that comes by and Appreciation to the Present Moment to the fullest. I did have a few Brai times after this first one, but this one is something that is special and close to my heart.
Every death of a friend, relative or a stranger (Especially in the Floods, Accidents or any other reasons) keeps teaching me of the uncertainty of Life, where you have nothing but Hope to see a tomorrow, that also calls for an extreme strength to whatever may happen which is beyond our levels of comprehension, to think of tomorrow and not be too attached to it, not knowing if there is life next minute, or a life after death, all that my heart says is enjoy this very moment to the fullest. If you are not pulled down by guilt or regrets, follow your heart and there you are! on the right track. Just keep it going. Set your own rules and Live by it. Brai is one mixture of meaningful moments that gave me happy realizations of what I want from this Gift of Life.
Love and Gratitude