Then, she was two years old. You were 26. Travelling abroad, alone for the first time. Her father had a thousand instructions, “Keep your eyes on the bags – Bombay airport is dangerous.. Hold on to her, she’s a kid – she’ll just wander off with a stranger..”
Knowing him, I’m sure he sent you a drawing of Sahar Airport in a blue colored aerogramme. Drawn to scale in blue ink.
You’d tell her, “.. must hold on to mummy’s mundhani and not let go.. ok?.. Ever!” She’d bob her head vigorously, wide eyed with excitement. She was bustling about the house on the last few days. Running upstairs and downstairs while you were trying to get the packing done. She would tell Thatha that she was going to a new city where the roads were lined with Gems and all cars were Toyotas. And she would bring back one for each relative who came to see you off.
She held onto your pallu tightly throughout the trip. At the noisy airport where you couldn’t find a trolley for the bags, when you were checking in, at the security check when she saw the metal detector for the first time. All the way till baggage claim at Seeb International when she saw her father waiting outside. She ran to him with a shriek. Customs officials and Immigration counters be damned.
Today, she insists you carry a cellphone and calls three times before you board the flight. “Have you taken your tickets? Keep the boarding pass safe okay? Shall I get you some coffee? A sandwich?”. She asks you to message as soon as you land in Bombay, and again when you get home. “Don’t carry the bags okay Ma, just ask someone standing nearby to get it off the conveyer belt for you..”
She sounds exactly like her father, you think to yourself..
For my mom, for an awesome weekend and for everything else over the past 22 years
*Mundhani(aka Pallu) : the part of the saree draped over the shoulder
*Thatha : grandfather