Urmila is eagerly waiting for tomorrow. Her excitement is making it difficult for her to fall asleep. She is constantly tossing and turning on her bed and thinking about Rohan. Urmila have seen photographs of Rohan, plenty of them. She also interacts with Rohan through skype daily. In last two years, Rohan have become a part of Urmila’s daily routine. Urmila has never loved anyone more than Rohan. She is dying to hug and kiss Rohan for the first time tomorrow. Rohan’s parents Kishore and Amanda will accompany him tomorrow. However, Urmila is not thinking about Rohan’s parents, it is only the anticipation to meet Rohan that is keeping her sleepless and impatient.
Rohan is the two year old son of Kishore and Amanda. When Kishore married Amanda, Urmila was strictly against the match. It was unthinkable for her to accept a beef eating American girl as her only daughter-in-law. Urmila had always wanted a pretty looking girl for Kishore from her own community. But, Kishore wanted to marry a girl not only outside their community but not even from their own country or religion.
When Kishore, first told Urmila about Amanda, she stopped talking to him and kept cursing herself, for sending Kishore, to the United States of America, for higher studies. Urmila regretted that she should have sent Kishore to USA after getting him married to a nice girl of her choice.
Urmila always imagined a sari-clad pretty and fair girl who followed all religious rituals to be an ideal match for Kishore and her family. Well, Amanda was fair. In fact more fair than Urmila’s liking. Kishore still keeps telling Urmila that Amanda is very religious; she goes to the church every Sunday and reads the bible daily. However, even if Aamnda is religious, she is not a Hindu, so it hardly matters to Urmila what she does on a Sunday.
Urmila had stopped talking to Kishore the day he got married to Amanda. Kishore had first sent an email about his marriage. Urmila didn’t know how to use the computer in those days. Her email account was created by Kishore and he had shared the password with her. However she lost the password. Urmila honestly was least bothered to use or learn the computer. Therefore, later Kishore had to send her a letter along with his wedding card by post. When the postman came to deliver the letter Urmila instinctively felt by looking at the airmail envelope that it was some kind of a “bad news”. Her hands shivered while she tried to open the letter, Urmila found the wedding card below the letter. Her fingers trembled when she held the card in her hand. She didn’t feel like opening it.
Urmila took the letter and card and sat on the swing that hung from the ceiling of her veranda. She already felt exhausted. The calligraphy of her son’s name with an alien woman was something she couldn’t digest. She felt abandoned by her son. She remembered all the sacrifices she had made for her son. Since his birth Kishore had become the world for Urmila. Her relatives and neighbours even felt that she was a helicopter mother always hovering over her son.
After looking at Kishore’s handwriting her motherly heart melted for a while. It reminded her of Kishore’s childhood when Urmila struggled to teach him the alphabets, word formation and sentence formation. How every evening Urmila used to finish all her household chores and sit with Kishore to teach him. She always helped him with his homework. She used to sit with him when he studied till the time he went to USA. Urmila always felt proud of her son and many of her neighbours and family members envied her. After Kishore went to USA to study Urmila’s respect within her community increased. She was given special treatments in all community social events. The parents of many girls were hoping to please Urmila so that they can marry of their daughter to Kishore. Urmila understood all this and secretly cherished the privilege. However she was looking for the best girl for Kishore, she couldn’t have married him to any girl next door.
She had never allowed Kishore to play beyond a certain time in the evening. She monitored his friends, monitored his homework and his extracurricular activities. She used to go along with Kishore wherever he went often making it embarrassing for him. Urmila always dropped and picked up Kishore from school and never put him on school bus. She feared that Kishore would have picked up bad habits from school bus.
When Kishore hit puberty Urmila had almost gone into a panic mode. She feared that he would start smoking or drinking or worse fall in love. She became extra vigilant with Kishore, often making it suffocating for him. Urmila almost became like a military school principal who left no space to breathe for Kishore.
He had to follow a stringent routine. He woke up at 5 am in the morning. He had to immediately take bath. Urmila believed that early morning bath made the mind and body clean and pure. After his bath Urmila always insisted that Kishore pray for at least half an hour. She taught him how to chant Hindu mantras. After his prayers he had to sit and study for couple of hours. Then, Urmila served him pure vegetarian breakfast before he left for school. After school he had to attend extra reading classes so that he never stayed behind other students in his class.
In the evening Urmila personally sat with Kishore and supervised his homework. Kishore studied till late in the night while Urmila always sat with him, often getting late for dinner. Urmila’s husband Santosh was a timid person. He was subtly afraid of Urmila. He never did anything that would upset Urmila. After Kishore was born Urmila’s entire attention had shifted to Kishore, she almost became obsessed with Kishore, especially his studies when he started growing up.
After receiving Kishore’s wedding card Urmila was devastated. For few days she didn’t eat anything and kept herself locked in a room and kept crying. She didn’t even cook meals for Santosh. Her husband himself had never even boiled water, so when she stopped cooking the poor chap had to depend on hotels and restaurants for his food. Something that Urmila later regretted. Urmila hates outside food and she considers it a failure on the part of the wife or mother if the family eat outside. Even eating outside for pleasure is a sacrilege for Urmila.
Kishore had tried calling Urmila numerous times before taking the vows with Amanda. In fact his mind was thinking only about Urmila when he was reciting the holy vows prompted by the Church priest in the presence of Amanda’s family and friends and only couple of colleagues of Kishore who were the only witnesses from his side. Kishore even felt guilty as he understood that his act of marrying Amanda was not only hurting his mom but also shattering her long cherished dream. Indian mothers start dreaming about their child’s marriage the day they are born and shattering that long cherished dream was no less than a criminal offence.
After the wedding ritual was over Kishore called his home’s landline number in India once again. For the initial couple of times the phone just kept ringing and nobody picked it up. The third time Kishore’s dad picked up the phone. His dad didn’t sound very happy but was courteous. He especially spoke nicely when Kishore gave the phone to Amanda. When Kishore asked where his mom was Santosh replied she had gone to the temple which Kishore obviously didn’t believe.
Urmila had vowed that she would never ever speak to Amanda. Initially she even denied speaking to Kishore. Urmila stopped picking up the phone and Santosh was the person who interacted with both Kishore and Amanda. Earlier it always used to be Urmila speaking to Kishore and then hanging up, often forgetting to give it to Santosh. Kishore also never asked to speak to his dad. Santosh always played a side role in their family however post the marriage Santosh started getting preferences, thanks to Urmila’s angry vow. However, whenever Santosh spoke to Kishore Urmila always sat next to him. Later on the dining table she always enquired thoroughly about every bit of their conversation. Santosh became a bridge between mother and son. In a deeper level Santosh enjoyed this importance. However Kishore’s fever changed all the equation and things became like before.
One day when Urmila overheard the conversation between Santosh and Kishore and found out that Kishore had high fever she couldn’t control herself and snatched the phone from Santosh and the story immediately became like before. Santosh was again sidelined. So was Amanda. Urmila never spoke with Amanda or even asked Kishore about her. Ironically, Santosh and Amanda developed a secret bonding. Amanda started calling Santosh whenever Urmila went out of the house either to the temple or market or to some neighbour’s house for bhajans. Santosh always wanted a daughter and due to Urmila’s strict vigilance on Kishore he never developed a proper relationship with Kishore either, however Amanda fulfilled his desires. He found a daughter and a friend in Amanda. He used to eagerly wait for her calls and whenever she called they chatted for a long time. Santosh never discussed Amanda with Urmila because he knew she hated her.
One day morning Kishore called and gave a real good news to Urmila after which she spoke to Amanda for the first time. Urmila wanted to make sure that the descendant of her family should be born under proper rituals. Over the next nine months Urmila started to speak to Amanda and gave her numerous instructions, few of which Amanda found absolutely ridiculous. She often discussed this with Santosh and he always asked Amanda to ignore all these stupid rituals and take care of her health.
The day Rohan was born Urmila’s happiness knew no bounds. She distributed sweets in the entire neighbourhood. She went to the nearby temple and donated clothes and blankets to the beggars. She also kept a special puja at her home on the fortieth day. Apart from all this Urmila also joined a special computer class to learn how to send emails. She started sending and receiving emails not only from Kishore but Amanda as well. The emails from Kishore and Amanda always carried the attachments of the recent photographs of Rohan. In some photos Rohan would be taking a bath, in some photos he would be strolling or sleeping peacefully in his cot. Urmila always felt like touching the baby through the photos.
Urmila always requested Parents of Rohan to make her hear his voice rather the noises that he made. Soon Urmila became familiar with the noise of Rohan’s burps, cries, laughter, babbles and even farts. Urmila always suggested some home remedies for whatever small ailments Rohan suffered. Soon Urmila learnt how to use skype. Now everyday in the morning Urmila and Santosh sat in front of their computer to have a skype session with Kishore and Amanda where nevertheless the star attraction was always Rohan.
One morning during one such session Rohan said something similar to ‘ daddada’ which Urmila and Santosh presumed as his elementary attempt to call them ‘dadu’. Urmila started crying after hearing this innocent sound from her only grandson from across continents.
Tomorrow is the day when Kishore will come home after three years. When last time Kishore left home he was a bachelor who had just started his life in a foreign country however tomorrow Kishore is returning to his home as a well established corporate executive, husband of a beautiful foreigner and father to a beautiful child who has inherited the blue eyes from her mom and jet black hair like his grandmom. Even though Urmila cried when Kishore married Amanda however now she feels proud especially when she meets the neighbourhood women who always ask her questions about her foreigner daughter-in-law. Urmila knows that the ladies are jealous of her for having a white daughter-in-law. Urmila now feels happy and content with her life. Amanda is not as bad as she presumed and Urmila is sincerely looking forward to meet Amanda and shower her with blessings. Urmila feels grateful to Amanda for gifting her best thing of her life, her grandson Rohan whom she will hug for the first time tomorrow. Slowly, Urmila closed her eyes and fell asleep with happy anticipation in her heart and a beautiful smile on her face. Tomorrow is going to be the grand family reunion.