Good. Good.

IMG_1257.JPG

As I combed the lice out of her hair, I repeated “Accha. Accha.” because I only knew a few Hindi words and ordering dinner or paying for a cab or hello and goodbye just didn’t fit as I watched the tiny bugs jump from the comb.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

She was dying. The freshly changed dressings on her legs were starting to soak again. With blood and infection. Each time I slowed the comb, she reached for it. She held my hand and the comb and placed it where it itched the most. I kept combing.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

She turned her head to the sound of my voice. She knew she was dying. I could see it in her face. Not in a hopeless way. She just wasn’t fighting anymore. I could tell she had fought quite a bit in this life. Poverty. Illness. She had a story to tell, but not to me. Not today.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

She couldn’t see me. She didn’t know I was white or 19 or American or there in India as a missionary. I thought I was there to teach about Jesus. I was really there to comb this woman’s hair.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

She knew that her head had itched for so long and the dressings would need to be changed again soon. She knew the repeating sound of my voice.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

I don’t remember how long I sat with her. I don’t remember what the rest of the room looked like. None of it mattered then. None of it matters now. I think of her often. I wonder how soon she died after I left. Was it days? Hours? I think of her face. The lice. The cot she was on. The stained white sheets. I think about how I looked death in the face that day. I think about how I wasn’t scared. I learned that what I think I know and what I think I need or you need or we need is usually wrong. I learned to let a dying woman put a comb in my hand. I learned to listen. I learned what is good.

Accha. Accha.
Good. Good.

Author: Casey

Share This Post On