The day after she landed she woke up to a couple of unfamiliar faces next to her. Then, enlightened, she ran to get cream to put on the faces of our mosquito-bitten, puffed up kids. Megha, true to self, refused to climb down from her hip in an unfamiliar environment. By mid-afternoon Pratibha couldn't figure out if her back hurt more from carrying Megha or her head from Sona's constant whining. Sona, you see, is daddy's girl. She hadn't come to terms with the fact that she wasn't going to see me for 3 months. And then, that evening, there was a power cut that scared the living daylights of Sona. By the end of the first week, Pratibha's bubble hadn't just burst, it had exploded spectacularly into a billion pieces. Meanwhile, with the last box moved, I was stretched out in the balcony of our new apartment catching up with some long forgotten books. I had just come back from badminton. Lemonade next to me, songs on the laptop, cool breeze, lazy life. In the back of my mind I was debating whether to catch the late night show of "Inception", a new movie that was out that weekend, or to just hit the sack early. Somehow, from halfway round the globe, Pratibha sensed this. She picked up the phone and called me.
"Nikku, you get on a airplane and come down"
"But Sonu ... we had a deal"
"I need to renew my passport"
"I have no money"
"I'll send it"
"I'm planning a hike to Yosemite"
Suddenly the tables were turned. Sona settled down as soon as she heard I was coming. Megha got used to the new faces around her and started playing. I, meanwhile, was stretched thin. My hikes got cancelled, work in office got hurried as I tried to meet deadlines before I left and to top it all, my application for a passport renewal got delayed in the consulate. After much wheeling and dealing and a last minute trip to San Francisco to get my passport, here I am at the airport waiting for my flight. The fact of the matter is I'm happy. There's nothing logical about feelings. I look forward to holding my babies and my wife. To seeing my parents and my sister after two and a half years. To seeing my brother's kids for the first time. I'm glad she forced me to buy those tickets. Creature comforts are well and good, but they cannot replace a family.