By Beliz Yilmaz
(From March 3)
After visiting two completely different temples of different religions in Delhi, we were on our way to Akbar’s house in rickshaws. Akbar is the owner of the rickshaw company we used to get around old Delhi; he is Muslim. After going to a Bahá’i and a Hindu temple, it was time to explore the Islamic culture in India. In Akbar’s house, they sat us down in a small, dark room with brick walls where we were going to have our meal. The moment we sat down, Akbar’s entire family welcomed us with great hospitality.
Then I met Ikra. She is one of Akbar’s six children. She must be around 4 or 5 years old. When she came into the room we were in, her smile immediately brightened the room. I don’t speak Hindi; she doesn’t speak Turkish. But when we held hands and when she smiled at me, we could communicate. I think she understood me as much as I was able to understand her. For a girl of her age, she is unbelievably smart. How do I know? Besides the fact that she figured out how my phone worked and she took 300 pictures on it, she figured out how to cross borders–the borders on the way to building relationships.
When we were walking around the village, Ikra held hands with Julia and me. Sometimes I carried her in my arms. As we were building trust in Ikra, her father also trusted me and Julia to take care of his daughter. The relationships among these people are stronger than the ones in the United States. In the family, they are closer, more sincere and more trusting. When walking in the streets, people stare at you, don’t say “sorry” or “please” as much as Americans do, but they are surely nicer. When you get to know them and make friends with them, there is not one conversation without a smile on your face.
With Ikra, we had no boundaries. We were just two Muslim girls who happened to be friends in an instant. I will never forget the moments I shared with Ikra: the memory I have of her is a precious one, a strong one. Her small body deserves the happiness worth the whole universe. I hope to meet with her one day and see the wonderful Indian woman she becomes.