26 Apr, 2015

an earthquake and student voices…

Sehba Sarwar
26 Apr, 2015

Sagar’s apartment ceiling

After a sleepless night, I wake up to read a text message by Hemangi, a Westbury High School student who participated in my storytelling workshop: Did you hear about the earthquake in Nepal?

In just a few hours, I need to be at the apartment belonging to another Westbury High School student Sagar, where he and his family will host a gathering for fellow students to share their parent interviews.

Unsure of how the earthquake is affecting his family, I email Sagar: Are we still on for the gathering? Is your family in Nepal okay?

When I don’t hear back from him, I load up my car with a tray of samosas and head towards southwest Houston. Whether the social gathering takes place or not, I can at least drop off the samosas for him and the other students who are supposed to participate in the program.

But once I reach Sagar’s apartment, a group of students and their family members have assembled. We talk about the earthquake, and we listen to the students share stories in Nepali to their parents and in English to us.

The gathering closes with a meal: Nepali chow mein, jalebi, pakoras and samosas.

On May 9, the students and their families will join me at my final production What Is Home? at Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center and they will participate in more storytelling.

But today, as we celebrate Sagar, Purnima and Barun, I am thinking of the thousands dead in Nepal. I’m also thinking Sabeen Mahmud. Today is the one year anniversary since she was murdered.

Even as we gather to live our days, share our stories, we are surrounded by loss.