The Daily WORD is SUWARTA

Suwarta is a Marathi word meaning “good news.” I was reading a report about an unfunded project named Suwarta and wondering where the suwarta is in a slum that has no schools, populated with children who have no shoes and have a high risk of being sold into the sex trade. “No more India today,” I promised myself.

But suwarta sounded as welcome as tomato-basil soup on this snowy day. (Yes, I went to India to get out of snow, but I attract it like people who hate dogs attract canine affection.) I turned on the news, hoping for some suwarta. Ha! Suwarta doesn’t sell soap or Viagra, so the news is the usual grim.

But during one commercial, the corners of my lips twitched upward, and soon I was laughing. It was that bouncy commercial for Jamaica “Come to Jamaica and feel all right.”

My Jamaica memories, despite the work assignment nature (okay, once I spent four days in a resort between a week in the slums of Santo Domingo and a week in the slums of Kingston, because I NEEDED it) are mostly suwarta. So here is the best.

My colleagues Joan, Liz, and I decided the three blocks between a mission hospital and a mission school did not merit a taxi despite the fact we were in a rough part of Kingston. We set off confidently, although Liz clutched her rosary beads and Joan put on her “I’m from the Bronx” face.

Liz rounded a corner and bumped into a Rastafarian so hard she bounced off him. He was nearly seven feet tall, wearing pounds of beads, and his dreadlocks hung to his waist.

JESUS CHRIST, Liz screamed.

The Rasta man looked down at us from what seemed a great height, raised an index finger, and said in a cool, calm voice: “Tell no one thou hast seen I.”

He walked on.

And so did we.



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