This is my first attempt at fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to any person, living or dead, is just a coincidence.
My husband, Ramesh and I were waiting at the New Delhi International Airport to board a plane to US. Ramesh has deteriorated so much and he looks so weak. Our neighbor’s daughter Gita who had been there, gave us some information about the flight. She said it will take almost 22hrs for us to reach there. I would have never wanted to fly to the unknown land, but my son, Sonu is there. Sonu went to US when his company sent him on a job there.
“Ramesh, Do you want some coffee? Wait, I will get it for you”.
“That’s fine. Dont take trouble. I know how your joints in the leg pain whenever you walk”
“No wait. I will get it”
He was right. My legs are losing their strength. I am getting old.
“Bhayya, can you give us two cups of coffee?”
The prices I tell you, these days everything is so costly that we can hardly survive with Ramesh’s pension. So recently, he joined as an accounts officer for a truck company near our house. But I keep getting worried about him since the job is so demanding. At the age of 70, how can you expect some one to work like a 25 year old?
“Have this coffee, Ramesh. You will feel better”
We boarded the flight. It is such a long journey. Ramesh dozed off as soon as the plane took off. He must have been so tired. He was working for this whole week. Whenever I am alone, these thoughts keep crossing my mind. Our son left to US six years back, 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 is our only son. But he told me that it was the question of his career. Now how could I say NO? Initially, he would 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 have just flown for 7 hours now.
“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 it. You have it”
“Here, take this paracetamol. You will feel better”
Our only dream was to search for a nice bride for my son. I had bought jewelry for my daughter-in-law, when Sonu was just in school. Since he is our only son, I had lot of dreams about his marriage. Not all dreams get fulfilled. Sonu has married some girl, from a different caste. He told me after 6 months of his marriage with this girl. When I asked Sonu, he said “If you trust me, you will trust my choice ma.”. We had no other choice, other than to accept her. We cannot severe our relationship with our only son. Can we?
Here comes the air hostess.
“Can I get some water beti?”.
“Here it is. Can I be of some 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 US, some six years back. 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 25 years in India without any complaint. This was the country which gave him food, shelter and education for 25 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 US. Ramesh missed him more than I did. He talked me into going to US, to meet Sonu. We had to spend almost all our savings to make a trip to US”
“Oh. Please tell me if you need any kind of help, while on the flight Ma’am. Please don’t hesitate to ask me”.
My neighbor’s daughter, Gita got so much for her parents, when she returned from US. She kept asking me what our son sent from there? He sent nothing. 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 US. 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 has given his number. He will be here, as soon as we call him”
“Let’s call then. But this coin phone looks so weird. How do we operate this?”
“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”.
Inspired from some real life incidents I have seen actually happen. Your parents sacrifice everything in life to make sure you get good education. But funnily, people find it hard to extract time from their busy schedule for their own parents.