Many Hands

It is the day before the start of the school year. Hovered around an empty table with a group of young girls in their shelter home, I listen to them sing Hindi and American songs. Their voices are gentle, lulling with the heat of the afternoon. Their vibrations humm in heavy air, so thick with humidity it could be sliced. The girls play with a gold, beaded necklace, reminiscent of their new year festivities. Brushing the surface of the table with its rolling beads, they form an array of shapes – a heart, an elephant, a pair of lips. Not one child working in isolation; they are not “taking turns.” The girls move together, many hands working simultaneously. A web of limbs weaving over and under, sliding around and through. This sequence is intuitive, familiar. Below the cluster of intermingling bodies, golden forms emerge. Admired for a short moment, they are lost again – on to the next. Busy and quickly moving as they sing, their bodies dance with the beads. Reverberating, sensational and eternally familial, here the individual does not exist.

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