Finally, the day of absolute celebration had arrived. I got a mail from the Canadian Embassy stating that all the formalities were finally cleared and we as a family had gained permanent residency to Canada. Out of sheer excitement, we started making all kinds of permutations as to what date should we choose to fly, how soon should I resign from my current job, what to carry with us and so on. Dad and Mom were equally excited but seemed to hide their emotions. I began calling my close friends to break the good news, happily gathering joyful wishes from them. My wife, though initially reluctant on moving abroad, was excited too. She immediately called up her sisters and parents to convey the good news.
‘’Congratulations Jiju’ said my sister in law happily on the telephone.
‘’Thanks”. I stated with a big smile.
‘’So when are you taking us with you”.
‘’Don’t worry it will be as soon as I am settled”. I said gladly.
I belong to a middle-class family with the usual dreams and aspirations and live in Delhi in my parents’ house with our four-year-old son. Dad had retired from postal services. Both, Dad and Mom in Delhi, kept themselves busy in their sweet little social circle. They also took tuitions, which besides, serving, as an additional source of income, was a healthy pastime.
‘’You should carry all warm clothes; I heard it is very cold out there. ”My Mom said. ‘’ Let’s visit Sarojini Nagar. We will find good and reasonable stuff”.
‘Just wait Mom.’ I said. ‘’ Let’s not hurry up. We will go on Sunday”.
It had been almost ten years of slogging in Delhi. We always longed for a quality life and wished the same for my family. I was working in a finance company, and my wife taught in a reputed public school. Four years back we had visited Calgary City in Canada and stayed with our cousin who later helped with the sponsorship. The feeling of visiting a foreign land was fabulous. Clean Roads as we see in movies, low population, clean, fresh air, crystal blue skies and glistening snow clad mountains in the far distance. It was like a dream come true. The grocery and food were of the highest quality due to strictest controls. My cousin told us that the Social Security system and health services for citizens in Canada was worth mentioning. Few of the old age homes were almost like a five-star hotel, and many located in the heart of the city. It surely seemed that the government takes good care of old people, which is somehow missing in India. The children’s education till high school is free of cost. And I was fascinated by a large number of luxury cars in the city. At that very moment, I made up my mind to move to this place.
‘’What a paradise!” was my instant reaction. In India, I was shelling out more than ten grand per month for my son’s primary education. And what to talk about medical services? Forget about it. I remembered a day when I saw a man who met with an accident and was lying on the road unattended. He perished since the ambulance was late by more than an hour.
The list of all positives of a foreign land kept on multiplying in my mind, convincing me further for settling down abroad. Further, those earning in dollars was something to cheer off. Even if I sent one thousand dollars every month to my parents in Delhi, it was little more than sixty thousand rupees in conversion. This amount in addition to my Dad’s pension was enough for them to lead a comfortable life in their old age. So no more tuition for them. It was a win-win situation.
Meanwhile, our neighbors had already started showing us lot of respect, as if I was taking every single of them along with me to Canada. My next-door neighbor Bedi Uncle came to meet dad and me.
‘’Son, you won’t find the same taste of chicken curry and fish tikka in Canada. And all the household cleaning has to be done yourself.” He said jokingly.
‘’No problem Uncle, after all, you have to sacrifice at some point in your life” I said with a lost smile.
It was the month of March and I, and my wife finally decided to leave for Canada in May as the weather would be little warm and suitable for my son as well.
But as the time to travel to Canada was approaching, a strange feeling engulfed me. Every passing day was like a lost stranger. Bedi Uncle was right in saying that the services of housemaid in India were a big relief. There was enough comfort available to mother and my wife as the Kaamwalis handled the entire household work. In Canada, only the filthy rich could afford such a luxury. Even the local Presswala in India did all the tiresome ironing that too on such negligible rates. My cousins also told me that winters in Calgary were long and bitter with temperature even touching minus 15 degrees centigrade. At times frustration sets in to see snow everywhere for at least six months at a stretch.
My mind now gradually started pondering in reverse order.
‘’So what was wrong here in India?” I introspected.
India is perhaps one of those fortunate countries that experience varied geographical and climatic conditions. One can visit Rajasthan to see the vast desert. You wish to experience sea, visit Goa or those unlimited coastal locations down South. To enjoy the snowy winters, we have Kashmir valley or enchanting Himachal. The entire Himalayan ranges stood there to be further explored by trekkers. Not to forget bright sunshine throughout the year which was limited to only typical English summers outside. Which country would offer such a vast variety of seasons, fascinating cultures and festivals dating back to the time of oldest epics of the world ‘’Ramayana and Mahabharata”? India just seemed like a complete package.
So is it a big house or a big car that’s pulling me.
‘’No!” I thought.
With the modernization of India in last ten years, a luxury house or a big car are only an EMI away. Gone the days when people used to flock to foreign countries for imported goods. Even the people we were befriending in a Phoran land were mostly Indians. Every year we would take some time to visit India to meet near and dear ones who were otherwise only hours away if we were here. And with the Indian economy growing at such a rapid pace, there are ample of job prospects within the country rather than starting afresh with all kind of odd jobs in an unknown land. As we grow older, the desire to be close to our kith and kin would only increase with passing time. Besides, the thought of leaving my old parents alone and somewhat helpless haunted me.
Finally, my wife and I made a decision and dropped the idea to settle abroad. We silently conveyed this to my parents. They were a bit surprised at our decision since most of our relatives and friends were already informed of us going abroad.
Next morning the day started as usual. As I was getting ready for office, Mom asked.
‘’What would you have for dinner tonight, should I make your favorite chicken curry”?
Mom usually asked me such questions only when in a happy mood. I could feel the cheerfulness in her voice. From the other room, I heard my Father calling me out.
‘’Do come back on time, we will enjoy a couple of drinks together”. I could feel a childlike happiness in his voice.
It was time for some serious soul-searching. After a long time, I saw my parents so delightful and happy. In my race for ambition and competitiveness, I was missing out pleasures in simple things of life. Nevertheless, I was happy. Maybe, the thought of me not moving out of the country was the result of strong Indian values imbibed in me. And I was proud of it.