She has big hazel eyes
that stare back at me
with mesmerized wonder
through my camera lens
Later I’ll learn that she’s never seen such a thing before.
Her long black hair is tied into a braid
but little curls fall out next to the baby hair
framing her deep caramel skin
half-covered by a stunning orange silk dupatta
Later I’ll learn that the silk is covering a terrible scar.
I stare at her tiny hands
as they beat effortlessly on the drums
she was always meant to play
because she was just born that way
Later I’ll learn she may never know how to read or write.
The smile that stretches across her face is miles long
and little lines line her eyes
with the mischievous laughter
of little children
Later I’ll learn her marriage has been arranged.
I kiss the dimple on her cheek and say goodbye
and she whispers in soft Hindi in my ear
that she wants to be a doctor too
Later I’ll learn that her name is Asha. Hope.