A Trip Of A Lifetime

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My husband, Ramesh, and I, were waiting at the New Delhi International Airport to board a plane to the United States.

Ramesh has deteriorated so much, and he looks so weak. I thought to myself as we waited there.

Our neighbor’s daughter, Gita, who had driven us to the airport, gave us some information about the flight. She said it would take almost 22 hours for us to reach there. I would have never wanted to fly to the unknown distant land, but, my son, Sonu, lived there. Sonu went to the U.S. when his company sent him on a job assignment there.

“Ramesh, do you want some coffee? Wait, I will get it for you.”

“That’s fine. Don’t trouble yourself. I know how your leg-joints pain whenever you walk around too much.”

“No wait. I will get it.”

He was right. My legs are losing their strength. I am getting old. I thought to myself again.

“Bhayya, can you give us two cups of coffee?” I said to the coffee vendor.

The prices! These days, everything was so costly that we could hardly survive on Ramesh’s pension. So, recently, he joined as an accounts officer for a truck company near our house. But I would keep worrying about him since the job was so demanding. At the age of 70, how could you expect some one to work like a 25 year old?

I returned with the coffee - “Have this coffee, Ramesh. You will feel better.”

After some more wait, we boarded the flight. Ramesh fell asleep as soon as the plane took off. He must have been so tired. He had been working the entire week. Whenever I was alone, such thoughts kept crossing my mind.

Our son left for the U.S. ten years ago, saying he was on a project for 2 years. I did not approve of it initially. I asked him why he could not continue with his job in India. He was our only son, and like all parents, we also wanted him to be near us. But he told me that it was the question of his career. Now how could I say NO? Initially, he used to call us every weekend. Then it became alternate weekends, and now he talks to us once in a month. Once when I called him, he scolded me - “Just because you have nothing to do, don’t keep calling me like this. I am busy at work. I will call you when I get time!”

We had only flown for 7 hours by then.

“Ramesh, the lunch is here. Eat something. I am sure you must be hungry. Oh! Looks like you have fever. Why is your forehead so hot?”

“Let me sleep for sometime. I don’t feel like having lunch. You have it.”

“Here, take this paracetamol. You will feel better.”

Our only dream had been to search for a nice bride for my son. I had bought jewelry for my daughter-in-law when Sonu was still in school. Since he was our only son, I had a lot of dreams about his marriage. Not all dreams get fulfilled. Sonu married some girl from a different caste without even telling us. He told me six months after his marriage with this girl. When I asked Sonu about her, all he said was - “If you trust me, you will trust my choice ma.” We had no other choice, other than to accept her. We could not severe our relationship with our only son. Could we?

The air hostess was on her rounds again.

“Can I get some water beti?”

“Here it is. Can I be of any more help to you?”

“When are we landing at the JFK airport?”

“It will be another 10 hours ma’am.”

“Oh. We are very old beti. This is too long a journey for us.”

“Are you visiting someone, ma’am?”

“Yes! Our only son! He went to the U.S., some ten years ago. He did not come back even once to see his old parents. He does not want to make a single trip to India. He says – ‘India is polluted and populated’. But tell me beti, he spent his first 30 years in India without any complaint. This was the country which gave him food, shelter and education for 30 years. Now he does not like this country? But we cannot stay without seeing our son. I miss him so much. When I told him this, he asked us to come to the U.S. instead. Ramesh missed him even more than I did. He talked me into traveling so far, just to meet Sonu. We had to spend almost all our savings to make a trip to the U.S.”

“Oh. Please tell me if you need any kind of help while we are on the flight, Ma’am. Please don’t hesitate to ask me.”

My neighbor’s daughter, Gita, got so many things for her parents when she returned from the U.S. She kept asking me what our son had sent from there. He never sent anything. When I told him that Gita brought so many things for everyone in her family, he said “Ma, there is nothing available here which is not available there. Everything is so costly here. Do you have any idea?”

Finally the plane landed.

“Ramesh, we are in the U.S. I cannot wait to see our son, Sonu. Where did he say he will be waiting for us?”

“No. He will not be waiting. Your son is a busy man, Lakshmi. You cannot expect him to stand here for hours. He asked me to call him on getting here. He will be here as soon as we do that.”

“Let’s call then. But this coin phone looks so weird. How do we operate it?”

“Excuse me sir, can you help us call our son? This is the number.”

Some gentleman helped us call Sonu. Ramesh said “Sonu beta, this is your papa here. We are at the NY airport. We landed here at JFK airport…”
“Oh is it beta…?”

Ramesh turned towards me. “Lakshmi, your son is busy again. He asked us to take a train from here. He does not have the time to even pick us from the airport.”

I was shocked “But we are new to this country. We don’t know anything. How are we supposed to go to his place?”

Ramesh said “I know where we should be going to... India.”

Picture Credit: Google Images

Author Says: This story is inspired from some real life incidents that I have seen actually happen. Our parents sacrifice everything in life to make sure we get good education. But funnily, so many of us find it hard to extract time from our busy schedules for the same parents!

Kadzilla Says: So what is the differentiating factor between the two kinds of families? Why does one kid become a “Sonu” after going abroad, and the other one a “Gita”? Head over to our Change Makers section to explore the answer to this one: ‘Debt to Debt’.

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Avada Kedavra said...

Thanks for posting it Kaddu :)

August 16, 2010 at 9:12 AM
Kaddu said...

U r welcome yaar! :D

August 16, 2010 at 9:14 AM
Manjusha Sinha said...

Very touching post but I'm afraid a spellcheck should have been done when u're featuring and highlighting an issue/post. Lots of spelling errors.

August 16, 2010 at 9:47 AM
Kaddu said...

Manjusha, I just double checked it in MS Word... it doesn't mark any spelling mistakes other than the Indian names & the words 'beti' and 'paracetamol'. I usually make it a point to correct all spelling & grammar mistakes before I publish them (at least as much as I know). So if I have missed out anywhere, plz do let me know... will correct it right away.

August 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM
Kaddu said...

Oh forgot to mention - I mostly use the American spellings of words in the posts ('neighbor' instead of 'neighbour')... just a habit I guess, 'coz my freelance writing work involves writing for US clients.

August 16, 2010 at 9:56 AM
Phoenixritu said...

Heartrending :( I have seen cases like this too

August 16, 2010 at 2:30 PM
Kaddu said...

Hey Phoenixritu! That Wordless Wednesday on your blog - the motorbike one - classy! ;-)

You've got a pretty neat layout, and a totally customized sexy bookmarks toolbar! Loved it! :D

If you feel like sharing anything here, do feel free to drop me mail ok. C ya round.

August 16, 2010 at 2:47 PM
Shobhit said...


I could very well relate to that. Wonderfully written, Avada, as is always expected from you. :)

August 16, 2010 at 4:16 PM
Anonymous said...

Thanks Shobhit :)

August 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM
Anonymous said...

Thanks Ritu :) Glad you could relate to the post.

August 17, 2010 at 11:10 AM
Nikki... said...

This is my first visit here and the first story I reached touched my heart.. You are just amazing.. The picture you have painted through your words brings to fore the ugly truth of parents being forgotten by their children.

August 18, 2010 at 1:36 PM
Kaddu said...

Thanks Nikki! :)
Avada will soon be around to reply directly.
If you'd like to share any of your work here, please write to lounge@kadzilla.com.

August 18, 2010 at 1:46 PM
Avada Kedavra said...

Thanks so much Nikki :) I am so glad you liked the story.

August 18, 2010 at 3:29 PM
Gyanban © said...

You ve touched upon a a very sensitive topic. the story is well woven and the sentiments are just right.
The ending was predictable,wanted it to be different,though not for the sake of a twist, however, the focus as I understand is not to have a twist - but to depict the pain humiliation and resolution.

Overall - I liked your story.

August 25, 2010 at 12:07 PM
Avada Kedavra said...

Thanks GB :) I am so glad you liked it!

August 25, 2010 at 1:34 PM
Abhiroop Banerjee said...

Your story hits home.
As an only son to a very accommodating mother, I hope I never come anywhere close to becoming a 'sonu'. The more understanding and liberal our parents are, the easier it is to take them for granted.
Thank you for a quick, crisp read :-)

Children. Seriously, why have them?

November 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM
Kaddu said...

@ Abhiroop: Hmmm... one can always adopt yeah

November 19, 2010 at 12:33 PM
Abhiroop Banerjee said...

If I ever, I'd rather pay an NGO to do it. Stay 'anon'. Emotional attachment >> setting oneself up for lifetime of expectation and disappointment and/or watch the child I father bending down under the weight of gratitude and emotional bondage to me, for having raised her, imprisoning her in the worst kind of attachment, the kind which she can't let go of out of fear of hurting me.

November 19, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Kaddu said...

@ Abhiroop: My personal experience with people... those who worry too much abt hurting others are the ones who end up hurting them the most.

The way I see it right now... life is just about setting priorities for yourself... what you simply cannot live with, what you can live with, and what you'd really enjoy living with. And then you make adjustments in life accordingly. Also read Shobhit's post linked above for the point you've mentioned... regarding the burden of gratitude etc.

November 19, 2010 at 12:56 PM
Abhiroop Banerjee said...

" those who worry too much abt hurting others are the ones who end up hurting them the most..." -Kadduspeak

Ekdum sahi bolin aap. For a change, I couldn't agree more ;)
Applies big time to me, actually.

November 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM
Kaddu said...

@ Abhiroop: Watch out for the TV show of "Kaddu maata"! ;-)

November 19, 2010 at 2:44 PM

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