The best laid plans of mice and men…
First of all, please help me in keeping this a secret. Do not let my immediate family in India know of this for another 36 hours.
Second, let me share with you something that I had not made public for a few weeks. You probably recollect my trip to India to see my parents from mid August. Well, my plan to see them next was Dec end. In fact, the daughters wanted to come too. Excitedly, I started the process of getting all passports renewed and new Indian visas stamped around the end of Sep. (still waiting the daughters’ visas).
In the middle of all this, my dad decided to have a brain stroke. His right side is paralyzed and he cannot speak!! To cut thru the last four weeks quickly, after a long stay in the hospital in Kolkata, my brother has successfully moved him back to home in Kalyani. He and the entire family supporting him are going thru a very tough adjustment process.
Thru all this, my brother, who is quarterbacking all the ground level realities there has been actively dissuading me from coming to India right now. He is worried that this might disrupt our December plans (and he would rather we all go to see my dad in December). He also thinks that at this juncture, I might add more work for my mom than actually be helpful. (She is undoubtedly going to worry about what I am going to eat). Finally he thinks, I should preserve money during an “off year”.
All good points. Except, a week back, Sharmila and I discussed and I decided to override my brother. So, here I am – at the familiar Atlanta airport international terminal again – headed to India to be with my dad hoping he can recognize me and say a couple of words.
Regarding my brother, while I am sure he is going to be very happy seeing me, I have also prepared my excuse codes…
(*) I will be landing at my parents place on Diwali day – the biggest festival day in all of India. I have not been with my family for Diwali since 1985.
(*) Saturday is “bhaiphonta” for us. I am not sure if there is something equivalent in the Western world – but this is where sisters celebrate their brothers with all sorts of ceremonies. (For college goers, this is like an anti-Valentine Day. If the girl tags you as her brother, you have pretty much reached the End Of File on that budding relationship 🙂 ). Anyways, my younger brother always goes to my sister’s house for this celebration every year and sends me pictures. Guess who is showing up this year?
(*) My brother and I have not had a drink together for way too long 🙂 I have to say thanks to him for the inhuman effort he has put in for the last four weeks.
I have my doubts if I can achieve much more than be with my dad and more importantly my family who are having a tough adjustment period getting used to a semi-invalid patient. But, if I can, highest on my list is visiting a couple of teachers from my early school days and say Thanks to them before I lose my chance. Most of them, I have not seen for 40 years or more.
Soooooo…. we have a deal, right? No breathing of this trip to my family in India. In fact, I am blocking them temporarily on Facebook so they cannot read this either…