Refueling for the long haul
After about 7 years of seeing my parents and inlaws every three months, I had to go on a long hiatus. Unfortunately, we lost my father in law this year. So, Sharmila made the trek two times in the last two quarters. Now it is my turn again!
I have not seen my parents in 9 months. Like I said, the last time this happened, it was 2011. I am very excited. But I also am very confused. Let me explain…
Getting to see my old parents so often – one who got felled by a brain stroke and one who is a psychiatric patient – is one of the best memories I will ever have long after they are gone. I distinctly remember sitting at our Sunday evening bar in Milton, Sharmila had asked what was the big idea about earning money if we could not utilize it to see our own parents. Point made.
But the visits do not come without complications. The condition my mother suffers from, ironically, makes my trips somewhat of a curse. It shoots up her stress levels. Over the years, I have learnt the art of telling white lies. First, I just don’t tell them I am coming. Second, I always tell them that I have eaten outside or that I have some other engagements and cannot eat at home. The overwhelming desire for a Bengali mother to cook food for her son plays havoc with her obsessive compulsive disorder to a point that she just freezes up. But my brother and I have developed a routine around those white lies – that everyday culminates with “We need to order dinner in tonite”. I think my mom is still convinced that the local guy will not sell me wine for the evening if we do not buy dinner too!
That is the routine I look forward to. Last time I saw my dad in April, he was able to grip a ball with his right hand and throw it a few feet. He was walking few feet too with his walker (duly followed by my mom with a chair in hand in case he collapsed).
But here is the confusion. Experience has taught me that when it comes to visits from their son, frequency beats length. Four trips of two days each is exponentially more enjoyable to them than one trip of eight days.
This is one of my longest trip to India. Actually THE longest trip to India by myself. Instead of staying with my parents for eleven days, I intend to make it three tips of a day or two each. Which leaves me with some time to visit places, create intersection points etc.
Except that my ever reliable partner – my brother – is out of town for work and won’t be back till a a few days before I leave. That puts a big cringe on what I can do.
Outside of visiting my parents, I would like to meet old teachers, relatives, friends. old classmates, elderly people – like I always do to remind myself of my roots. And also see if I can dash to a quiet place for a day or two just to reflect on the year that was and how I can be a better person next year.
Do you folks have any ideas on what I can do while in India?