Endless chat sessions, long phone calls, about a dozen Skype dates and countless dreams about what we would do when we finally met. Work schedules, university schedules, different continents, life in general and a certain someone’s sheer bad luck when it comes to travel plans and meeting face to face seemed almost impossible. And still we kept on planning. Expectations were kept low to the point where a couple of days before she was to fly to our part of the world, I told her ‘I will believe you are coming over only when you land here’. She did start that conversation with floods in her part of the world, am I really to blame then?
First step was a call from the same continent and I started to feel more hopeful. Second step was a phone call telling me she was on her way to my city. Excitement grew. I would actually see her (unless she somehow missed her connection). No further communication, I took as a positive sign, which meant in my excitement I strapped both the kids in their car seat and drove to the airport to bring her home. And and got to the airport on time. The airline folks has other plans, alas, which meant there was the wait at the airport, followed by lost and found phone calls, till another drive around the arrival area and I spotted her.
As I parked the car and stepped out, the one thing that constantly played in my head was, ‘it is OK if she does not give you a hug, you need to give her her space’, remembering all the conversations where she spoke about being uncomfortable with people invading her physical space. And what does she do? She opens her hands wide and gives me a big hug. Ahh! I could not stop smiling while all she did was gush over the fact that both the kids came to pick her up. hmmp! I get no importance, I tell you.
What followed was me playing awesome host. NOT! One meal was all I cooked for her in the 3 days that she spent with us. She was dragged to Bugz doctor’s appointment, Buzz’s school pickup, an overnight trip with complete strangers (for her, not me), some random stuff D and I had to take care of in town and we abandoned her, all on her lonesome, in the middle of town. She cooked amazing sambhar and dosas for us while D and I sat and ate. She entertained the kids while we drove 4 plus hours for our overnight trip. While most everyone ran after kids (and God knows what the guys did, what did they do, do you remember?), poor soul was left to man the stove. She was made to sleep on the couch. She held on to a crying, wiggling Bugz while I ate my breakfast and fed Buzz and was so good that Bugz finally slept on her shoulder (and that never happens with anyone but me and that too if I am very lucky). She sat through another 4 hour drive and Bugz spitting all over her and then came home to make Biryani while I sat and talked to her. Oh and made enough that it lasted me two days. I so needed that to remind myself that she really had come and was gone so quickly.
I think I lost count on the number of times I cursed her itinerary which has her spend so much of her time on the various airports but I got to see her in person and got to spend three days with her. And the highlight for me was the hour long walk we took along the river, talking about Amma, Jani, Paati, the kids but even more the fact that I could stop and give her a hug when she had tears in her eyes. Full moon and the beauty of it all only added to the reason why that walk was so special.
You know how when we think about meeting someone, we picture things a certain way? I had a similar image in my head. But in my head Buzz and her interaction with her Akka was a big part of my image. I say this constantly (biased Maa alert) and I will say this again, Buzz is a happy, social, friendly kid but one never knows when the shy bug bites kids, so I held my breath on how these two would interact. There was the need for translation every now and then when Buzz spoke to me (Akka we need to teach you some Hindi, you know 😛 ), there was a little bit of being shy on Buzz’s part, there was all her kiddy friends on the trip. But they did spend some good time together and the big ice-breaker came at the tail-end of the trip. D was helping a friend by fetching something from the car, I was busy feeding Bugz, Buzz standing at the edge of the lake while Akka took off her shoes and stepped in. Buzz of course wanted to follow. I told her that she could only go in if she held on to Akka’s hand. Aah the instant looking at Akka with eyes shining and voice dripping with honey, ‘Akka will you please take me?’ What followed was being held from one stone to the other by Akka, laughter galore and some amazing pictures for me to hold on to.
As Akka said her bye-bye Buzz made sure she pointed out that Akka was to come back for her next bacashion, which Akka promised and we will hold on to. Till date Akka’s next bacashion is talked about, the chocolate Akka got is talked about, the dress Akka got is looked at with longing (we are eating well to grow up to fit in to it). On the other hand Bugz stays blissfully unaware, lucky her.
Rev Akka when do you come back? We miss you already.