The Homecoming4 mins 264 4 mins 264
Kannan was coming home after a long gap of nine years. He had left on a Sunday from his home in a small Tamil Nadu village to pursue his Masters in Engineering in Houston. As luck would have it, he not only completed his Masters but also joined a reputed American firm in their research department. In the meanwhile, he met Aparna, a fellow Indian who had joined the same firm as an employee. They fell in love. Amidst objections from both sets of parents, they got married and became proud parents of a baby girl. Aparna's parents came to terms with their daughter's choice and even came over to visit them a couple of times. Though Kannan loved his parents, he had been hesitant to come back home even for vacations as they had vehemently opposed his marriage to Aparna, as not only was she not from their South Indian community but she was a nonvegetarian whereas Kannan’s family were pure vegetarians. What they did not know was that Aparna had turned vegetarian for Kannan's sake, since there was no communication since the marriage. Aparna felt sorry for her husband.
But last week, Kannan had received an SOS call from his mother. His father had suddenly taken ill and had been admitted to a local hospital. She had seemed so unlike herself, the tremor in her voice revealing the tension that she was going through. When he told Aparna about his father’s illness and his mother’s call, she had gone silent for a few minutes. Then she had packed his bag, her own, and stuffed some clothes and essential items for the child. Then she herself booked three flight tickets to Trichirapalli, the airport closest to Kannan’s village.
They were now on their way to the village. Kannan’s brows creased with worry. ‘How would his father be? How would he receive them?’ He looked at his little daughter sleeping in the arms of her mother.
‘How would his mother react when she saw them all of a sudden?’ Seeing his expression, Aparna gave a small smile.
“Don’t worry so much, Kanna,” she said. “At most we will be asked to go back. But at least you would have seen your parents and they would have cast their eyes on our daughter.”
Their cab halted. They had reached his house. Seeing him get down from the cab, Kicha, a man from the neighborhood who knew Kannan right from childhood, went to inform his mother of his arrival. His mother came running out to see her son with arms outstretched to welcome him. Aparna was standing a few steps behind and watching them. But seeing her, the older woman hesitated a moment. Aparna moved forward and put her darling daughter in her grandmother’s arms. That was it! Tears started flowing from her eyes as she held the small bundle of joy in her arms.
“How is Appa?” asked Kannan.
“He is much better now. The day I gave you a call, he was in the ICU with a heart attack. I was scared. He has been discharged today. In fact, we just came home before you, Kanna.”
“Thank God for that!” exclaimed Kannan. “How do you think he will react when he sees us? Will it affect his health? Amma, don’t hesitate to tell us if we have to stay elsewhere?”
“Kanna, your father was mad at you for marrying a girl from outside our community. But with time he cooled down. When we came to know that you had become a father, he got over it completely. But his ego would not allow him to call you over. Now that you have come on your own, I am sure he will welcome you back.”
Kannan and Aparna followed her with their daughter in her arms into the house. His father was lying on the bed. Kannan’s mother placed their granddaughter on his side. He sat up immediately and held the child close to his heart, tears of joy flowing down his cheeks as he saw Kannan.
‘How many years had gone by without seeing his beloved son?’
Kannan ran towards him and clasped his hands in a tight grip.
“Appa, are you better now? You gave us all such a scare!” he exclaimed.
“The scare was necessary my son,” smiled his father. “It needed that scare to push you into coming to see your old parents, did it not?”
Then he saw Aparna standing alone at a distance. Beckoning her he said, “Though late, I take the pleasure of welcoming you into our family, my dear.”
Aparna was overcome with emotion. She was happy.
‘What a homecoming it had turned out to be, after all!’