I was on my way to Kentucky in USA to visit my daughter's family. It was my first international journey and obviously I was a little worried, as I was travelling alone. I had to change my flight from Amsterdam and then again from Detroit.
I was able to make a friend in Mumbai International Airport, a Dutch girl, who was also going to USA, but her destination was Minneapolis. When we were landing in Amsterdam, my newly found friend came closer to me. "I've found a companion for you to travel to Detroit. She too is an Indian. She'll help you," whispered my friend like a dutiful friend with a smile, and introduced me to her friend.
An elegant middle aged lady gave me a welcome smile. "You can come with me. I'm also going to Detroit," said the Indian lady in Hindi. She wore a grey jeans and brown top. Her short hair was tied neatly with a clip. Her small white handbag rested comfortably in her left arm.
I sighed with a great consolation. I was really worried about finding my way to the proper gate and getting through the security check at Amsterdam. My children had booked my ticket in the earlier flight which was to leave after1 1/2 hours of my landing in Amsterdam. Since they were apprehensive whether I will be able to make it on time, as a preventive measure they had also booked another ticket for me in the next flight, which was scheduled after 5 hours.
As we were hurrying to the security check I was looking around for a telephone booth to make a call to my children, to let them know about my status, which they had asked me to do, to ensure my safety. Suddenly I saw a telephone booth and told my Indian friend about my urgency of making a call. She reluctantly agreed and stayed with me. I tried using my credit card, but I was not able to get connected. I then tried with another credit card which was also not going through.
"Doesn't matter. Your children will know about the situation here. Moreover, we have to hurry to catch our flight. See, I'm also not making a call from here and wasting my time. C'mon. Let's hurry now." I heard my friend's voice at the back. Grabbing my carry bag, I rushed with her disappointedly. As we were waiting at the security check she enquired more about me, as to where and why I was going.
"I'm going to spend some time with my daughter and son-in-law in Kentucky. Since the climate is warm there now, they wanted me to make this visit so that they can take me around to see the tourist places". I just whispered, and looked around the crowd. Though I spotted few Indians among them, not a single lady in sari, like me.
I suddenly remembered that there was no response from my friend. "Perhaps, my reply doesn't deserve a response," I thought to myself.
After a while, I turned to my friend, whom I saw was wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, and when she met my eyes, heaved a sigh. I wondered whether I said something wrong. Or did I do anything wrong that made her suddenly upset?
"What happened? Are you okay?" I couldn't suppress my anxiety any more.
As she moved her steps to catch up with the moving line of people waiting for security check, she whispered -
"Your daughter is so lucky. She is able to bring you here. I am so unlucky. I couldn't do it myself to my mother. How much I wanted her to come here and see this place! I'm an unfortunate daughter!" She closed her eyes in despair.
"Don't worry. You bring her during your next visit to India," I suggested.
"No, it's impossible. She is no more in this world." She continued her weeping.
"I'm sorry." I said.
"I'm now returning from Mumbai after attending to her final rites. I will never have the joy of bringing her here. That will always remain in my mind like a stubborn wound," she continued.
"I had repeatedly told her to come with me at least once, but each time she said she can't leave Papa and others alone at home and come. She used to think that they can't manage without her. Now see what happened? Could she prevent her last journey leaving them all behind and go?" She became a bit hysterical.
"Please stop crying now. See we are almost reaching the end of the queue." I made an attempt to divert her attention from her painful memories.
As we stood in the queue for boarding the flight, she kept on telling me her regrets for not being able to bring her mother, at least once. Even after her seventeen years of stay in USA she could not fulfill her desire.
We suddenly realized that we were the last two to board the flight.
As she was walking towards her seat which was about ten seats away from mine, she said, "Tell your daughter that she is a lucky girl, and''.you're a lucky mother." Her voice faded.