Rakmet (thank you)

May 24, 2010
7:00 a.m. Beijing time

I am at a loss about what to do with myself this morning. Grandmother has begun to stitch together felt, and I feel a little strange about watching her work again. I try to smile at her every once and a while, and sometimes she returns a quick smiles, albeit uncertainly. I understand neither the language she speaks, nor the language in her eyes – I don’t think she knows what to make of me; perhaps we are too much outside of one another’s experience. Mother smiles at me without prompt and laughs at my helplessness.
I go for another 45 minute walk and return to see mother, father, ?, and the little boy by the well with the lambs. Strolling over, I see that a pit has been dug approximately 30 ft. away from the well. The pit is lined with blue tarp and filled with water to which is then added a [chemical] solution. Father and ? take the lambs one by one and unceremoniously dip them in the bath. Mother is keeping the lambs from wandering away. The little boy is trying to help and attempts to drag a lamb to the pit, but it is struggling and putting up a good fight. Mother motions to me to head off some of the lambs near me that are trying to make a trot for it.

Midday:
We are having milk tea and balsak when Dr. Z, Chalkhar, and Omar arrive to pick me up. I greet them at the door and ask if they would like to come in. We all sit for tea and another male guest arrives. The men stand up and greet him, and I abandon my seat to go outside. Not long after, I load my belongings back into the truck and return to the house to say my goodbyes. I’m not quite sure what to say to Grandmother, but Mother and I clasp hands warmly and I say “Rakmet” effusively, she gives me a great smile. Father also takes my hands in both of his and says his farewell, and as has been my experience exchanging pleasantries with men here, he does not look me in the eye. I get into the truck and I look to see Grandmother, Mother, and Father standing in front of the house to see us off. The little boy is standing at the door. I take one last picture and wave as we drive away.

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