Friday, May 25, 2012

All Too Soon

All too soon, the day arrived where it was time for me to return to Chennai. My Srinagar family urged me to stay longer, asking me if it was possible to change my flight. How nice not only to be welcomed, but asked to stay longer! The mother had already prepared some Qahwa tea when I came down to the kitchen that morning. Along with the usual visitors including the local imam (the youngest son had Koran lessons), some other relatives came over. One cousin who spoke English very well exclaimed how she had been looking forward to meeting me, ever since I had arrived. It was such an honor and privilege, she added. While I was giving the youngest son some portrait drawing lessons, the mother was busy preparing a special early meal for me. In addition to the usual rice, she had purchased a special long, narrow sausage normally reserved for wedding celebrations.  The family gathered around as I ate, reminding me of parents who nostalgically watch their college age child’s last actions before departing for the semester. Knowing how much I enjoyed the Qahwa, the mother presented me with a bag of whole almonds. I thanked her but said that the carpet I had purchased had filled most of my suitcase, and there probably wasn’t room for it. To that, the daughter went to my suitcase and ensured that it did fit. Then the uncle came and brought me a second bag! Such generosity. After some hugs and kisses (even from the generally solemn grandmother) and invitations to return soon with my parents, I bid my Srinagar family adieu. What a wonderful, unexpected experience I had. In a span of less than a week, this family in a narrow alley of Srinagar had etched themselves as one of my favorite memories during my four years in India.

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