Hands. His, holding mine as we hit our first speed bump with more speed than Schumacher.
Hands. Hers, with palms facing upwards, singing joyfully.
Hands. Theirs, clasped together as they shake their heads and greet “auntie”.
Hands. Hers, opening the curtains in the doorways of the three-month old hospital she runs to proudly show it to us.
Hands. Hers, spooning rice into the tiny mouth of a schoolboy at break time.
Hands. His, making us feel at home with an enthusiastic western wave.
Hands. Hers, cupping mine as her eyes tell me a thousand stories.
Hands. His, pushing a cart three times his size in a brick factory he was born into.
Hands. Theirs, holding pens and pencils fiercely running through homework lines.
Hands. His, without fingers, leaving him rejected by his family.
Hands. Theirs, working tirelessly to support a family of 9 in one small hut.
Hands. His, taking through piles of waste to find something that will sustain him.
Hands. Hers, pulling palm leaves off trees to make brushes to sell.
Hands. His, dancing as he tells stories of transformation and hope and dreams.
Hands. Hers, lifting the phone 3 times during our ten-minute chat over tea in her headmistress’s office in the school of 2,000 children she runs.
Hands. His, frozen in just the right position to sound his car horn as any and all moving vehicles approach.
Hands. Hers, enjoying a cold splash from the water tank as she resources a campus of over 100 people.
Hands. His, giving a large bag of food to the leprosy colony, run by people of a different religion to his, down the road.
Hands. Hers, waving a stick at her flock grazing in a luscious green field.
Hands. Hers, writing “Jaba” on a crumpled piece of paper as we realise our names sound the same, kind of.
Hands. His, holding his classmate’s pinkie finger on their way home from school.
Hands. Hers, pounding soap into the kids’ clothes under a scorching midday sun.
Hands. Hers, taking notes as the patient’s blood pressure is read out.
Hands. Theirs, handing out specially selected treats for the visitors.
Hands. His, carefully choosing vegetables from his stall to give to the orphanage; “pay me when you can”.
Hands. Hers, carefully manoeuvring her new sewing machine as she creates a beautiful yellow sari and supports her village in the process.
Hands. Theirs, pointing to what is different about us and mine, trying to build a bridge over it.
Hands. His, punching out numbers on his calculator and charging us 200 rupees (£2) for six one-litre bottles of soft drinks.
Hands. Hers, holding her little sister’s fragile frame in the room she shares with her two siblings and mother affected by leprosy.
Hands. His, pushing the ‘take’ button on the first camera he had ever held (and taking one heck of a photo).
Hands. His, grabbing the collars of two smaller boys as a car approaches before dinner at the orphanage.
Hands. Hers, showing me her microscope in the hospital lab.
Hands. His, weathered and wrinkled, guiding his cow home past shops and fields and houses.
Hands. Hers, clasping what the village merchants gave her for dinner, in the absence of family to take care of her.
Hands. Hers, quickly weaving copper wire through colourful beads she sells to support her family in the slum.
Hands. Theirs, on the handles of motorbikes as they visit the villages in their care.
Hands. His, pointing to a goat (or a ‘sheep’, here) and laughing as I “baaa” in response.
Hands. Hers, writing in English and Tamil on the blackboard children from the lower casts will learn from that day.
Hands. His, motioning for a photo as he stands next to a tree he has planted.
Hands. His, breaking a carrot into three to share with her and me.
Hands. His, replacing a tire in the same attentive way he has driven us for miles, to support his four motherless children.
Hands. Hers, handing out food she has made for the whole hungry church gathering.
Hands. His, taking out books out of his schoolbag to tell us what he learning through his sponsorship.
Hands. His, elegantly pouring sweet milky tea into one cup and back into the other at his roadside stall.
Hands. Theirs, writing and drawing in the red dirt.
Hands. Hers, taking off three rings from her fingers to give to me through our car window as we leave the slum and parts of our hearts behind with it.
Hands, theirs. Working hands, holding hands, giving hands, praying hands, creating hands, talking hands, healing hands, begging hands, loving hands. Hands of India.