Friday, June 25, 2010

So Chaya

In the midst of dozens of photo albums in my Multiply inbox is interspersed a series of blog posts from my recently Vancouver-based cousin Chaya (pronounced Key-a), who is currently spending her summer in Uganda. Yes, Uganda. Chaya is part of a UBC (University of British Columbia) program that sent her and a couple of other students to Africa to live amongst the locals, learn their culture, and conduct research. She is sharing a home with a village pastor and his family, and on days when she gets Internet access at the public library, she posts journal entries recounting her experiences in Uganda. Some are happy, some are heart-breaking, and they all reveal as much about the writer as the world she's discovering.

I first found out about Chaya's intentions to join this program when she emailed me asking for help to collect funding for her trip to Uganda.
I was impressed with the program, but more importantly I knew it was very much her thing, so without hesitation I made an online donation myself. When I spread the word among our cousins and aunts, a couple of them remarked, "That's so Chaya!" And it certainly is.

There are some people described as "old souls", people who are wise beyond their years, or act maturely for their age. Chaya is an old soul, but she's also more than that.
She maintains a purity, an innocence about her-- no jaded angst, no "emo" tendencies as too often seen in her contemporaries. For someone so young, she exudes an aura of someone at peace with herself, and everything around her. It's this extraordinary quality, this grace of character, that sets her apart from all the twentysomethings I've ever known. And it's this serenity that shows the kind of beautiful soul she has, the kind of beautiful soul she is.

My Multiply inbox alone is telling: while the rest of my contacts are posting photos from vacations abroad and barkada outings, Chaya is posting heartfelt and thought-provoking blog entries about religious intolerance, violence against children, race perception, and poverty in Africa. Reading them, I am struck by my cousin's capacity for empathy, her generosity of spirit, her passion for life, her basic human goodness, and her awesome reservoir of love. She is able to find poetry in the prosaic, meaning in the mundane, and the blessed in the most basic things.

I have a grand total of 35 cousins on both sides of my family, and while I'm close to only a handful, I reserve a special affection and admiration for Chaya in particular. There's just something about her that draws me to her, a warmth and a genuineness that's easy to open up to. I suppose it's hard NOT to be drawn to someone who radiates such positivity. For several years now, Chaya's been based abroad (Singapore, then Canada), so I get to see little of her. Right now as I'm writing this, I'm missing her infectious, crazily loud laugh, and everything else that's "so Chaya". And though I know she doesn't want to rush her time in Uganda, I look forward to when my remarkable cousin comes home.


At Friday, June 25, 2010, Blogger dizzyme said...

Sounds like she's a wonderful person. :)

At Saturday, June 26, 2010, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

She really is. :) There are times I marvel that we're related, hehe.

Added links to her blog. If you have time, try reading some of her posts. :)


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