Happy Dye Valley, I love you, Ma (Prof .Sreedevi Krishnan)

Published on 22 November, 2020
Happy Dye Valley, I love you, Ma (Prof .Sreedevi Krishnan)
Settled comfortably in the aisle seat ofthe aircraft, Lalitha looked around for other sari-clad old women like her. As usual, there were quite a few, some of them with a 'frightened, first- time flyer' look on their faces, who   Lalitha   guessed as the 'proud'mothersflying to various parts of the US for attending  theirt daughters'or daughters in laws' 'delivery ,baby-sitting and cooking elaborate Indian dishes.She always pitied these women,often treated as 'persona non grata' by their children and had to   return to India after months' of hard work, completely disillusioned,  emotionally drained

'Who am I to pity them? , as though I'm going to have a great time. Poor Venkat, he gave me enough warning but, I was adamant to go to the US to see my son after a gap of three long years.Weren't we the envy of all parents who had to wait many years to set their eyes on their NRI children, very often till they fix their 'bride-viewing' and possible marriage? We were extremely lucky, Chintu was as good as his word visited India every year right from his student days till he got married to 'that white  girl'  three  years ago'………….
Lalitha switchedon the movie channel to avoid unpleasant thoughtsbut could not concentrateas memories gushed through her tired brain….

She remembered vividly the day Chintu, their only son, had left for to do his Masters in one of the most prestigious University in the US . That was the first time, he was separated from his close-knit family. Trying hard to control her tears, Lalitha was preparing Chintu's favorite chicken, when he suddenly entered the kitchen and saw her in tears. Wiping her tears and  hugging her close, he called out loudly,  'Appa…. Sangeetha …come and watch ,what Ma is doing in the kitchen, she's crying her eyes out'. Rushing to kitchen Venkat took over ,"C'mon,Lallu, why're you crying like this; we must be proud of our brilliant son , Right Sangeeta?"

"I don't understand,all these days you were bragging about Chintu's intelligence, talents and what not,what happened to your frequent phone calls even to casual acquaintances about chintu getting admission in the US prestigious' university ? What a relief, I thought this'Chintu- going - America-weeks ' are mercifully overChintu  don't bea 'mama's boy,clinging to her apron? Come and sit with us and watch the hilarious ,Malayalam movie which you would not get in the US", that was Sangeetha,pullingchintu's hands and dragging him with her to the little n't room ….

That was the time Lalitha  voiced her worst fears, 'Once Chintu  goes to the US, his coming back and  settling in  India is an impossibility, that's the magic of America.Even during his Student days, he can't come often and even  later ,job, green card and  so many other issues, my heart breaks to think that he won't be with us for quite some time"
'Ma, I promise you that I would be in India every year, even if it's for 10 days, Okay, after about 8 months , I'll be here, most probably for your birthday, just you wait and see'…………..

Chintu kept his words, he came to Chennai, even forgoing the money students usually make doing 'vacation' jobs. He brought a beautiful handbag, his birthday gift for ma, some electronic devices for his Appa's famous 'power -point presentations 'in the University and  makeup- set for Sangeeta. All of them were ecstatic about Chintu's thoughtful gifts, till one day inadvertently, he revealed the source of his income, the pittance he got for toiling at nights as a waiter in a Restaurat ,which had haunted Lalitha for quite some time .
Lalitha remembered, how close she was to her son and how she refused to make chicken and  prawns after his leaving for the US ,till an enraged Sangeethareminded her that she  and   her Appa  too loved Chintu"s favorite home-made dishes, happened to be theirs too.

Sangeetha's settling down in Bombay, after her marriage, was a real blow to Lalitha;she missed both her children, felt terribly lonely . Though Venkatalso lovedand loved hischildren, his extremely demanding jobas a faculty in the Maritime University,kept him too busy to miss them, like her….
One evening, when Lalitha was busy making a mental 'to do list ' for  Chintu's arrival in a week's time, that too ,as an Engineer in a reputed company,Venkat came from his work and  said excitedly,'Lallu, I've great news for you, remember  Captain Menon, &Prasannamenonwho,visited our ship in  'Darling harbor,  Sydney`? Menon joined my class for the, 'Refresher course for captains' today and….."
Before he could finish,Lalitha interrupted "Oh, I remember them very well; they came with their beautiful daughter Swetha, who wanted to be a Doctor and remember we'……
Before she could finish her sentence ,Venkat said in an irritating tone, "Be patient Lallu, I'm talking about his daughter Swetha, she's doing her third year In Madras Medical College and also preparing for USMLE exams for going to the US.Menon wanted us to consider Swetha's marriage to Chintuand  as she's onlya student now, at least an engagementwhen Chintu comes next week,what do you say?"
"EnteGuruvayoorapp !Venkat ,He's, answering all my prayers, justlike Siddharth and Sangeetha, SwethaandvChintu too would make an ideal couple, I'm sure Chintu would be only happy with Swetha, just like him a bubbling ,bustling personality ,not a dumb beauty ,beauty with brains Chintu is lucky , can't wait to break the news to Chintu, in any case we must insist on conducting the marriage in Guruvayur Temple"' Lalitha whispered, raising her eyes  towards ceiling……..

"Drinks, Ma'm?', the sweet voice of the air-hostessand  the noisy opening of bottles, brought Lalitha back to the present .
Sipping her apple juice slowly,Laltha deliberately brought her mind to the day, when Chintu confided in her the shattering news of Kerry, that 'white girl', as Venkat always referred her…
At first Lalitha thought,  it was one of Chintu'susual bluffing, even when he pulled the picture of a beautiful blonde with blue eyes from his wallet, Lalitha brushed it aside as a joke.
'C'mon Chintu, be serious, this must be some film star or model's picture, look Chintu,    Swetha'sbeautiful, talented& comes from a very respectable family, we've plans for a grand engagement in Taj".Before we could invite Swetha for lunch, Appa wants me to find out about your convenience, that's all, no time for jokes now."
That was the time, with a serious expression, Chintu confided in his mother about Kerry, the details of her family, her trying to get a job near his work place, their decision to get married that June, as their combined savings was good enough to start a family etc..
Lalitha was aghast, she could not believe her eyes, the young man sitting in front of her with definite plans of his future where his parents had absolutely no role to play was her child, their only son………….
The following week crawled by with Venkat trying to convince Chintuthat the expected disaster of a marriage to a girl with  totally different culture, andChintuarguing that his  Appa  was quite unreasonable ,as he too loved and  married ma,who belonged to a different caste & even State, against the wishes of his family, at the  age of 24……….   
 Later, at the airport whenChintuhugged his Appa,while taking leave, Venkat with quivering lips, said, "All the best son, you're right, your Appa jumped a State ,now  you're jumping a Continent, Anyway, you know we both love you and would be happy ,if you find happiness in Kerry' ; our blessings are always with you"
That was the last time Venkat spoke to his son.
 But,Chintu kept in touch with his ma through  weekly phone calls, emailsand even a picture of them ,he in a fashionably embroidered Kurta, pajama and Kerry  looking like Angelina jolly in red silk sari,Lalitha's gift
Lalitha knew only too well that deep down ,Venkat  loved Chintu very much and  his difficulty in coming to terms with Chintu's marriage was only because of the inevitable divorce which would destroy him, emotionally as well as financially.
Finally, after three years which seemed an eternity to Lalitha, she voiced her deep desire to visit Chintu,just a couple of weeks before Diwali  And Venkat shocked her by making all arrangements for her perfectly timed flight to reach Sanfrancisco on the eve of Diwali…..

At the Departure lounge of the Chennai Airport, Venkat held Lalitha's hands and  in a voice choked with emotion, said, "Lallu, I  really doubt the wisdom of your going to Chintu's place ,that too without me, I wonder how you would face the hostile reactions of that white girl, in any case be prepared, the moment you feel that you are not welcome, come back immediately, instead of gulping down the insults.okay?',ignoring the curious look of the onlookers , Venkat kissed her gently on the fore-head.
Wiping the tears at the thought of her loving, caring husband of thirty years, Lalitha sighed deeply.

"Ladies & gentle men, this's Captain Smith…'……..   
The announcement of landing in San Francisco brought  Lalitha back to the  present. Clutching her hand -bag ,Chintu's birthday  gift and patting it gently to feel the necklace set for Kerry,Lalitha's walk turning into a run ,her anxious eyes searching for Chintu……
Before Lalitha could realize, Chintu enveloped her in his bear-hug. Then Kerry looking stunning in her simple outfit , a sleeveless light blue  top and jeans ,handed her a huge bouquet of lovely roses and asked in a barely audible voice, her luminous blue eyes reflecting guilt, fear, anxiety and nervousness , 'May I…..I mean… can I …..hug you mom, no ,no ma?'

Suddenly,Lalitha saw in Kerry ,a confused young bride from Kerala trying to touch the feet of her Brahmin in-laws and  their moving off their feet ,saying 'not necessary' thirty years ago …..,,.,

The next Lalitha remembered ,was her hugging her daughter in law  closely, both of them trying unsuccessfully to control their tears …
During their two hours' ride, both of them chatted like long-lost friends, exchanging the details of the family,job, their totally different culture etc ,ignoring the comment of Chintu, 'what a chatter  -box, she can beat you hollow ,ma!'

Next morning, Lalitha was woken up  from her deep sleep by a clumsily sari-clad ,beautiful blonde ,with  'Happy Dyevalley Ma'.

The lit diyas adorning their  balcony wall, the marigold garlanded picture of Lord Krishna in the Puja room and the grand finale, attending the Diwali celebration of Tamil Sangam ,gave  Lalitha the impression of their Diwali , back home …

On the  way back from Diwali celebration,Lalitha could not help admiring Kerry's blue eyes, Kerrysmiled and  whispered in Lalitha's ear,'well….well…don't know how to tell you , eh….eh….'do you think our child will look funny with Chintu's black hair and my blue eyes, my pregnancy test was positive, you want a grandson or granddaughter?"She laughed, her child-like ,innocent laughter………

That evening, Lalitha's chat to  Venkat was a monologue narrating every single detail . Finally Lalitha concluded, "So, she's not just 'that white girl', she's our daughter-in- law and…and ''She's going to make  us grandparents this July and no excuses , you're coming with me  to help our sweet, good-hearted daughter in law, so make arrangements right now for your twenty day's leave,okay?"
Laughing away, Venkat said, " Are Chintu and Kerry there ?put them onlet'me congratulate the children"……………

 The End
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samgeev 2020-11-22 15:18:06
Beautiful story. It depicts how this country has become a melting pot of different races and cultures. Congratulations
Sudhir Panikkaveetil 2020-11-22 18:00:10
This story suggests the power of cultural assimilation in USA. The protagonist in the story has accepted cultural acculturation but hesitant to fully adapt to the American way of life. But to her surprise the turn of events at the end make her a happy person. Prof. Sreedevi madam has a unique narrative style and presentation. Best wishes.
Sringara nicklas 2020-12-17 16:14:24
Shakespeare once said "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind. Therefore is winged Cupid painted blind". Neither Chintu nor Kerry looked at each other with "eyes" but with besotted minds and allowed blind Cupid to aim his arrow of love on target! Caste, culture, religion were all thrown to the winds in disdain when this couple fell in love and Lalitha and Venkat (though dissapointed and hesitant initially), put their own fears aside decided to support their son wholeheartedly. Indian parents, please take a cue from these loving parents, it is your children's life and their happiness that matters, not your standing in society nor your opinion! Dr. Sringara Nicklas
SHARILA.KRISHNA 2021-01-04 18:45:51
Perhaps you should do a sequel to this story titled 10 years later...!!
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