I don't know her name, I don't know the name of her village. I remember it was a small village when I was walking from Kutumsang to Ichowk on July 10, 2015. I saw her carrying her baby in front of her broken brick house from the Nepal disastrous earthquake in April. Her face was painted with a little shy smile.
I stopped and said Namaste, quickly grabbed my camera, looked through the viewfinder while I was asking if I could take a photo of her. She smiled and I fired the shutter. Any smile means "yes" to me.
At that moment, I felt a similar soul.
I too could be born in a small remote village. I could be married at young age and helped my family work in a rice filed and fed goats and cows. I wouldn't have a chance to go to school, and I would have to raise 4-5 kids of mine in the hope that they would grow up to help me work. I thought, my life would be miserable.
I had a small chat with her, and to my surprise, her English was beyond my expectation. She told me she learned it from school. I told her she spoke English very well and that she must have been a very good student. Then I asked why she stopped going to school. Silly me for asking her that stupid question.
Poverty, tradition, landscape of Nepal that you have to walk two or more hours to the school, or even her own decision; any of these would be a reason for being unable to continue with her education, but who really knows and cares.
Feeling so stupid with my own question, I thanked her for the photo and said goodbye.
I continued with my walk thinking she could have a better life and be happier only if she had more education. With more education, she didn't have to work hard in the rice field and feed animals, on the other hand, she would have more money to support her family and fix her house.
Being exhausted from a long walk, I suddenly realised I put her in my mindset and in my standard of "happy life".
Though I felt I have a similar soul to her, she wouldn't feel the same. She's happy with her kid, her rice field and her goats and cows, and the freshness of the air in her top-of-the-hill house. She might be a bit delightful to see a foreign girl whose face and skin looked like her kind of people, though, in her sense, also looked funny in long grey trousers with a pair of big black shoes covering all the feet. No Nepali women wear something like that. They wear colourful long sari and a pair of sandals.
She would laugh at me if she knew I was wishing her to have the life I thought it was better for her. She wouldn't want to be like me who doesn't have a kid and a stock of animals with a rice field, but having a big black camera walking from one hill to another to take photos of her people and her country. I could be a crazy one in her eyes.
Above all, she doesn't have to carry a camera to collect beautiful memories with photos like I do. She's been carrying her baby and her farming tools to witness and to touch the beauty of her people and her country all her life. How happy and simple her life is!
We were born in a different place and opportunities come to us in different ways. She's happy in her way of life, and I'm happy in mine. Nevertheless, We can still have a similar soul in terms of acceptance. We can be happy and stay content from just accepting other human beings' happiness and not interfering with it when we learn that it's different from ours.
Happy Thai Mother's Day.