Hey guys! This month, I would like to introduce a very special guest blogger, my daddy. His name is Ashraf Saeed and he has some very touching moments to share about his mother, a.k.a. my dadi. Show him the love, people. Peace, Hera.
It was a cold forenoon of January 9, 2011 when I left my brother’s home in Aligarh to come back to my home in USA with a heavy heart. My mother, Ammi, is 75 years of age. Like most past 70 year olds in India, Ammi was old, dependent, and frail. Ever since Ammi turned seventy, I tried to visit India almost every year to meet her, even if it was only for few days. However, this time I visited after two years and I could see the difference that little of time could make.
Two years ago in December of 2008, I travelled to India and was very excited to meet Ammi; I wanted to see her as soon as possible. She lived in Lucknow with my sister at the time, a city that is an overnight train journey away from Delhi. I landed in Delhi at night and luckily had a place to stay at my brother-in-law’s. The next morning, I left for Aligarh, a neighboring city, to see my eldest brother who was accompanying me in my onward journey to meet Ammi in Lucknow. Even though it had been only a year since she last saw me, she was impatient to meet me. Several times during the road trip, my sister called us, on the insistence of Ammi, to find out how far we had gotten.
In the afternoon we finally got to Lucknow and took a taxi to go to our sister’s home. As I entered my sister’s home, I saw Ammi’s eyes pointed at the door waiting for me. Right after seeing me, she started a quietly sobbing within herself. Seeing her wet eyes, I got close to her and put my arms around her shoulders. She started crying as usual and we stood still in that mode for the next several minutes. I greeted the rest of the family and started telling them about my usual plans about my trip. I only had ten days and many places to visit. By the time I finished all the travelling; I had visited everyone on my mother and father’s sides of the family. It was time to head back to the US, where my wife and kids were eagerly awaiting my arrival. As my time to leave India came closer, Ammi became more and more quiet. Her eyes followed my every move. I took Ammi with me back to Aligarh, where she intended to stay for next few months with my brother. Finally, the time had come and I had to leave her. I sat next to Ammi and tried to comfort her, saying I would be visiting her again soon, God willing.
“Don’t come alone next time,” she told me, “I want to see your whole family.” she said.
“Yes, I will bring the whole family,” I replied.
It was around 9:00 AM when I heard the taxi that would take me back to Delhi honking. As I asked for her permission to leave, she hugged me and started crying. Several minutes went by and she was still crying. I freed myself from her grip and said, "I have to go now.” She followed me to the door, still in tears, and would not take her eyes off me until I was inside the car. She watched the taxi drive away in the distant. This moment reminded me of the time when I last saw my father. I knew then that I had to come to India again and visit my mother for my and her sake.
Time went by quickly when I returned to the US and all the memories from my trip to India started fading. But I knew I had to go back to India to see my mother again. As December approached, I started planning my trip back to India again. But sometimes things do not go as you plan. The company that I work for announced a possibility of laying off thousands of people in a couple of months. Under the cloud of job uncertainty, I could not plan for any expensive trips. “Well, my mom is in fine health I can postpone my trip to next year,” I told myself in comfort. Three months passed and I got the good news that I had survived the cut announce by my company. That was a big relief for my family and me. These three months were very long and I could not think of anything other than my job during this period.
It has been now almost two years and I was ready to visit Ammi again. During these two years, I spoke almost every week to Ammi. I told her that I was coming with Zaid, my son, to see her. She expressed her happiness about it on phone. Finally the time came and I left Indianapolis to visit my Ammi. Not any different from my previous trips, I came to Aligarh from Delhi where my brother joined me and my son to Lucknow. The six-hour train ride from Aligarh to Lucknow went smoothly. My brother-in-law came to pick us up from the railway station and in about half an hour we were close to home. As always as I got closer to home thoughts of my last visit ran through my mind very quickly. I was making myself ready for that warm hug from my ammi and for her tear filled eyes.
As I entered home, I saw everyone’s happy faces but my eyesstarted searching for Ammi and unusually did not find her.
My sister read my face and said, “Ammi is in next room.”
“This is odd. It was never like this before,” I thought.
As I entered the next room, I saw Ammi sitting on her bed. Being aware of us entering the room, she looked at the door. I saw her smiling face and eyes welcoming us but I felt there was something missing. I saw emptiness in her eyes and a question on her face trying to work out who I was. I got close to her and hugged her but this time it was my eyes that were wet not hers. I did not lose my mother but I realized she has lost me. I was dead for her.
For the next fourteen days, I did what I used to do on my every visit, taking my mother with me wherever I went. My family was trying to remind Ammi that I was her son. Sometimes I felt as if she remembered me but the very next moment I realized she didn’t. The rest of my days in India were a seesaw of contrasting emotions. It was time for me to get back home to Indianapolis. I left India with heavy heart with a hope to see my mother again. I do intend to come back and see her again. Although I may be dead for my Ammi, she is still alive for me.