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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thank You, India

A few weeks ago, my family (in the United States) got word from my family (in India) that something terrible had happened.

A cousin of mine, whom I call, Mukesh Bhaiya (Bhaiya means brother), had passed away.

His death was a tragic one. He was a cameraman for a news crew and on the way back from an assignment, the car which he was traveling in (along with a reporter and driver) was in a terrible, terrible accident.

He left behind a wife and a one year old son.

Two weeks later, my parents called me to tell me that another uncle of mine in India had also passed away.

My parents did not cry as they told me the news on the phone. But I could tell that they were devastated by the loss. The distance. The memories.

I didn't cry either.

Not because I'm not sad. I am terribly, terribly sad.

It's more because I don't feel like I have the right to cry.

In many ways, I feel like I have let my family in India down.

Actually, it's not something I feel, it's something I know.

I have cousins I have not seen in years. However, some of my happiest childhood memories were spent with them during my summers in India.

I have aunts and uncles who I ran to with open arms as a child, who showered me with love and candy and sunshine and laughter.

But I can't remember their faces anymore.

I have family in India, who don't have "much" if you just consider possessions. My family is from the Northern villages of the state of Bihar, which is known to be one of the poorest areas of India.

Which, I guess you can imagine, says something.

However, they would give you the shirt off their backs if you went into their homes. They would feed you food that would not be easy to afford for them, but they would do it with joy and love and complete and utter affection.

Even if it meant they might have to go without something later that week, to give you something they could be proud of today.

My sister, her husband and my niece recently came back from a trip to India. They had a whirlwind trip, but they made an effort to see ALL of the family, which means a whole lot of travel and a lot more hecticness.

But my sister thought it was important. She wanted to make the time.

To make the effort.

As she told me about how everyone was, emotions swept through me and clenched my heart tighter than I knew possible.

How was Lal Didi?
I asked.

Did you get a chance to see Hema and Reshma? Did you see Mala? Are they still as beautiful as I remember?
The tears had started to fall.

What about Nidhi? Is she going to college? She was always so smart!

My sister answered all of my questions. I could tell how much the trip had meant to her too. She answered as I asked about everyone I could think of. What were their children like? Were they happy?

She told me that she had never laughed harder. That she forgot how much joy our family had in them.

That she laughed and laughed and they laughed and laughed and she will never, ever forget that sound of their laughter.

I have never forgotten the sound of their laughter.

My children will know where my parents come from. They will know their distant aunts and uncles. Maybe not today, but I have to do this, not just for me, but for them.

They will understand the opportunities that they have. That perhaps their own cousins have never had.

They will understand what it means to have plentiful food, heat and air conditioning.

They will understand what it means to love with such openness and joy that it could make your heart break.

I can't wait to take them to India. It is one of the strongest legacies I can give them.

To my family in India - you may be far, but I will never, ever forget you.

You are a part of me. You are a part of my children.

I am humbled. And I will see you soon.

Thank you.



Aastha said...

Very touching post, Kiran. Loved reading it.

gurkiran kaur said...

Heart warming words! its the story of thousands of people who have some part of their families living in distant countries. Yet, the love that you have for family BACK HOME?!?! did not fade away with time, and thats all that matters!

Love reading your blog!

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

Kiran - this made me well up with tears. I always saw so little of my father's family. Only on holidays and it's been years since I've made it there to see them. Granted Alabama and Pennsylvania are not nearly as far away as the US and India but still I understand your feelings and your need to get back to your roots.

When the time is right, go and soak it all in. I know it is something you'll not regret doing but forever regret if you don't. Family is our greatest treasure, I learned that too late. Now that our family is so small, it's time that matters most.


Rebekah @ Mom-In-A-Million said...

This is lovely. I hope you write about taking you children to India when it happens.

Mama Taylor said...

Reading this made me think about my own family. Now that I'm older and have a family of my own I really need to make a bigger effort to keep in touch with everyone. A lot of them live within a 30 mile radius... Family is important and I need to work on showing my kids that.

Great post.

MiMi said...

Beautiful, girl.
I can't wait for you to get to visit these sweet people.
Makes me wanna go too!

Salt said...

I was never very close with my father's side of the family as a child. I have a lot of extended family that I have never met. It's always made me feel a little weird to know that I have blood relatives out there that don't even know me.

I'm so happy that your children are going to have the opportunity to meet the relatives in Indian and visit there and gain a full appreciation of their roots.

KLZ said...

Thanks for sharing - this was so beautiful and touching.

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

That was lovely, Kiran. And don't be so hard on yourself. You will get there one day soon. Sometimes life just happens and time flies by, you know?

Use this blog as your reminder to make your travel pans soon.

Amy said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss Kiran. No matter the distance and time away, when someone you had a connection with passes it is just devastating. Keeping your family in my prayers.

When did I become my Mom said...

Kiran, keep them always in your heart honestly and truly and it will show in everything that you do. And they will know that you love them.

I wish you safe and speedy voyage back home, and to express that love in person once again.

AngieB said...

Thank you for this post! I, too, have not seen members of my extended family for many years. In fact, I know it has been twelve years, because I was newly pregnant with my eleven-year-old the last time I saw them. He has never met them. I hope he will, and I hope I can make it happen. I want him to know where his roots are, because that is where your strength lies :)

Caroline said...

Kiran, this was truly beautiful! I hope you make that journey SOON

Sara said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the losses your family has suffered.

As always, I love how you celebrate your family and your culture.

The Only Girl said...

So sorry to hear about your family's loss.

Your love of India and your family is obvious. Whatever distance is between you can't change that.

Everyday Goddess said...

Great Post!

Please stop by my place to pick up your Goddess Award!

Who loves ya?!

lakeviewer said...

Hi. I came from Everyday Goddess to congratulate you and to meet you. This post is very touching; and as an immigrant myself, I understand exactly how you must feel with the distance and the legacy you hold. Good luck to you.

Irish Gumbo said...

A tree cannot deny the soil from which it sprung...go, put your hands on the earth that nurtured you.

Beautiful, beautiful post.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Very touching post, full of poignancy, longing, love, and wisdom. Congrats on your Goddess award!

foxy said...

This was a beautiful, but sad post. I'm so sorry for your loss, Kiran.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry for your loss kiran, this post wass amazing, and so many young ppl don't truly know what they have, and how lucky they actually are here in america.


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