Shhhh!!! Do not let anybody in my family know…
Nobody in my family in India knows that I am coming to check on my parents and inlaws. Dad and mom had been asking for some time when my next quarterly trip would be. I kept pointing to the fact that I have an important office project going on and that it would be difficult for me to predict when I might get a few days to go visit them.
Which is entirely true. I was mentally getting prepared to skip this quarter totally and shoot for a June/July visit. Then a couple of weeks back came the news that my dad got some bad lung infection. As it is, he has only 20% of lung capacity left – thanks to all the smoking he did in his life as well as working in a polluted environment of a steel factory. It seems he caught some kind of infection which brought his lungs to their knees. We have gone thru this before and know the procedures to be followed – including putting in quite some steroids in his system to get the lungs cells to revive and fight back. He still does not have the strength to get up from bed and go for his evening walk – which is usually the litmus test of normalcy for him.
When that happened, Sharmila suggested that I look for the cheapest tickets I could find and hop onto a plane. And that is how a few days later (yesterday), I got on to a flight to see my parents. My trips are usually short – this time it is extra short. But the most exciting part is – they do not know that I am coming. Only the driver who is to pick me up from the airport has any clue. Sharmila is half afraid that upon seeing a sudden visage of mine in front their door (or for that matter her parents’ door) they might get a heart attack and beat the purpose of why I go there.
Doing it with this level of secrecy has its own downsides. First, I will miss my brother. My constant companion in India will be in Hyderabad for his office work. I did not want to tell him anything lest he upsets his office schedules and tries to rearrange them. Second, my reception committee at the airport comprising of the two nephews will not be there since do not know either. In any case, this is school time for them. I will go see them for an evening but I will not be able to spend any more time with them. And finally, my brother in law won’t have much time with me either since I did not give him enough time to rearrange his hospital duties.
But I am excited about seeing my parents for three days and my inlaws for a day. And of course, since I am making the long haul there, whenever my parents get busy or take rest (by now you know, we need to get my mother to sleep for over twelve hours so her psychiatric conditions do not flare up) I am going to scoot off by myself to create more intersection points.
Whatever little time I get, my priorities will continue with the same themes I had for the last two trips – first, I will try to meet up with some of my teachers that taught me in my childhood and say Thanks to them. The next priority would be to meet parents of friends and other elderly people and give them some of my time. And finally, see if I can meet some of my old friends that I have not seen for a long time.
Three days of journey and five days of meeting people. Seven flights, four different airlines, eight different airports. Should be interesting…