19 July 2024

Of lemons and lemonades

The original idea was that after giving her the surprise on her return from Uganda, she would go to her friend’s place and I would go back to work. Next day, we were going to fly home sitting next to each other. Me listening to all her Uganda stories.

Except, when I woke up at 5AM, FAA had grounded all flights due to the IT issue. Systems were so badly down that I could not even get thru to the airlines’ website or phone calls.

So, we made the best of the situation. Canceled our flight tickets and instead got ourselves a rental car!! And hit the road for a 12 hour journey to hear all the Uganda stories. On the way, we stopped at many rest areas to sit down and some fresh air. And, of course, more stories of a foreign land I have never seen.

18 July 2024

The jaw drop and then the ear to ear grins!

From the previous post you would have gathered by now how I was lurking behind the pillar as Nikita came out of the immigration and customs area in Washington DC airport after two long flights from Uganda.

Keeping a safe distance of a few feet I kept weaving thru the crowd. And then when she reached a less crowded spot, quickly paced up, approached her from her rear right and said “Excuse me!” like I was trying to pass her.

She instinctively said sorry and withdrew to her left.

I made eye contact.

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.

And that is when the jaw drop happened. I caught a part of her face (you can see in the top part of the picture).

Spent a few minutes with her fellow interns returning from Uganda, took a group picture and came back to my hotel to start my day. She is staying with her friend tonight. And we will go back home tomorrow.

18 July 2024

She still has no idea!!

Nikita was in Uganda doing an internship for the summer working with “Set Her Free” – an organization that focuses on creating a future for very young pregnant girls and mothers. (Nikita mentioned some of them were 12 and 13 years world).

She had a bit of a rough time the last couple of days of her stay there with extreme tiredness, catching a cold and all that. From Uganda, she flew to Qatar and then to Washington DC. Originally, she was to come back to Atlanta in a few hours. But because of her health and tiredness – especially after two long flights, she opted to stay with a friend for the night in DC and come back home the next day.

You can see her walking out straight from the customs and immigration in DC airport.

What she had no inkling of is that right behind the pillar was her dad with his iPhone camera on!!

12 May 2024

Life does not come with a user manual. But it does come with a mother.

It has been three and a half years. I no longer pick up my phone involuntarily after getting in my car every morning. And I do not spend any more hours looking for the most inexpensive tickets to India every 90 days. I would have thought by now I would have unpacked most of my grief.

Yet, once every month or so, I wake up in cold sweat and panic attacks after a dream involving my mom. (Usually I have to stay up in a cool place or walk incessantly to calm down after that). I have learnt how to listen to her favorite songs again but only if nobody is around – because I break down quickly and profusely. I have not yet reached the stage where I can listen to the songs she herself sang. I get excited planning India trips for Sharmila and the girls to go see my mother in law but I feel less than zero urge to go to India any more. Instead, I use that time to go see people of other countries that I have not been to.

I will refrain from calling her the best mom in the world. That would cross my obstinacy for logic and proper grammar.

What is true though is that she was the only mom I had. And that is what made her unique and extraordinary to me. It was the blind love that she had (like every mom) that made the relationship so special and unparalleled to me (like every son or daughter no doubt feels).

For three and a half years I have been trying to live by my own advice – Do not regret a death but celebrate the life.

Like hell I have been to getting any close to practicing what I have ever preached on that!!