Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wrapping up in India - Doing right by the people that helped bring me up

I was a hungry little kid. I loved food and would end up for my second lunch in the one room house that Phulia lived in.  Phulia Dai was one of the maids working in my parent's nursing home. I really do not know much about her family but she lived alone in a room. I know she loved me and I'd eat up half the rice she cooked. She'd add a little oil and salt and mash it up for me. It was the fat, cheap, parboiled rice but there was something about it - something more than just hunger - that drew me back to her place everyday.

I grew up, left home and flew off to the US. Somewhere along the way Phulia Dai retired to her village. She'd come back to my parent place biyearly to collect her pension and then she passed away. I was young and busy in my life to reflect too much on her last years. There were fond thoughts and little sighs of "I should have done more" but they were too little and a little too late.

Over the last few months we have been prepping up to leave India and one of the hardest things has been watching Ashvin come to terms with leaving Lalitha - his nanny and our housekeeper. He wants to marry her so she can come to US with us. This made me think of Phulia and others that were there for me as I grew up. Besides Phulia my thoughts kept going back to SitaRam and Nagendar.

SitaRam has been there in my parent's house before I was born. He was the cook but I remember him being part of my potty training, school pickup and was in fact the 'chaperone' on my first lone trip on a train when I met Peeyush.

I don't know when Nagendar showed up as our driver cum office manger cum backup cook but he is there in my memory as far as I can remember. He believed in me. Full of praises he thought the world of me. There was little I could do wrong - I was the best six year old english speaker in the entire town, my speech in school was flawless and had left him speechless. I know I was not that good but it was great to have a cheerleader all along my childhood.

I am still busy with life but with age comes the wisdom to make time so I am not left with too many regrets. Today SitaRam and Nagendar got onto a plane for the first time in their life and flew from Patna to Bangalore. They are guests in my house in Bangalore for a few days. They were the talk of my parental home and their village. I could have sent them some money but I am going to give them stories. After all they have been a very important part of my story.


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