It’s still there.  The scar from the fall that made me slip under the row boat as it docked on the shore.  I was feeling victorious after closing out a visa fraud investigation in a hilly area of Bangladesh. (Did pride come before the fall?) After carefully descending the hill to get to the river, crossing the water and ascending the hill again, I walked about 5 miles through rice patties near the Indian border in a lush part of the country known for tea plantations.  I was not alone.  I was with my Bangladeshi fraud investigator and Embassy counterpart.  He had done his best to protect me throughout the trip from all the risks in the field.

When we had almost made it back to our armored vehicle, and I was laying face up in the damp mud, leg trapped under the boat, and the fabric of my shalwar kameez ripped, he felt like he had let me down.  I got up from the incident as if it didn’t not hurt as bad as it did. I didn’t want to offend him.  “Now, your husband will never let you go out on an investigation again,” he remarked. I smiled, understanding that his concern was a reflection of his culture and not indicative of the issues women who looked like me suffered since my country’s inception.  We don’t just stop, because we get hurt.  We were never granted such privileges.

I did not expect the scar to still be here, reminding me of that day, but it is, and it makes me smile.  Like every woman I want beautiful legs, but I want my freedom, my character and my courage so much more.  On that day, my scar released me from the fear of falling, which was keeping me paralyzed and overly calculated in my decision making.  Once I fell, I realized it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.   Sometimes you have to take risks instead of being so afraid to get hurt that you never step foot off the shore.

I have been back from Bangladesh for more than two months now.  The first few weeks, my husband and I visited family and friends throughout the country, and now we are in Washington D.C.  My new lifestyle, which I like to call “housewife” has frequently brought about new scars on my hands that I have never had, but neither have I ever been so invested in my household.  Between cooking, cleaning and cutting, there are hazards in the kitchen I was not prepared for, like when the metal edge of the aluminum foil falls from the top of your refrigerator across your pinky finger or the sharp knife you forgot was in the dishwater slices your knuckle.  (Don’t even get me started about cutting vegetables.)  I hope the more adept I become at certain skill sets, the fewer scars I’ll get.

People always ask me about how life was in Bangladesh, and I try to summarize all that happened in two years, but I know it doesn’t do it justice.  I tell them about how I struggled to clear my face of scars that plagued me for months, while I dealt with stomach illness from taking far too many risks with the food in rural parts of Bangladesh.  The physical evidence of that struggle has faded now, but memories of the shame it brought to speak to people face-to-face still linger.  I am careful now about what I eat, because I don’t want to go back to that place and those small clusters of brown spots on my cheeks and forehead.

When you’re living your life vigorously, scars can happen.  I have accepted that, and I am not hiding them anymore or living any less.  I let my scars speak, in hopes I can prevent someone else from falling.  My scars are a testament to the simple truth that I lived, I tried, and I survived.

                                                                                                                                                – Kindall