ulfilling the dream of most parents, I acquired a degree in software engineering and joined a company based in the United States, the land of opportunity. When I arrived in the USA, it was as if a dream had come true. I decided I would stay there for about five years in which time I would have earned enough money to settle down in India.
My father was a Government employee and, after his retirement, the only asset he could acquire was a decent one-bedroom flat. I wanted to achieve something more than him. As time passed, I started feeling homesick and lonely. I used to call home and speak to my parents every week using cheap international phone cards. Two years passed…
Eventually, I decided to get married. I had only 10 days of holiday, so everything would have to be done within that period. After reaching home, I spent one week going through the photographs of various girls and, as time was running out, I was forced to select one candidate.
After the marriage, it was time to return to the USA. After giving some money to my parents and telling the neighbours to look after them, we returned to the U.S. My wife enjoyed this country for about two months and then she started feeling lonely. The frequency of calls to India increased to twice a week, sometimes three times a week. Our savings started diminishing.
A few years later, two lovely children, a boy and a girl, were gifted to us by the Almighty. Every time I spoke to my parents, they asked me to come to India so that they could see their grandchildren. Every year I decided to go to India, but work or monetary constraints prevented me.
Then, suddenly, one day I got a message that my parents were seriously ill. I tried to get time off, but couldn’t. The next message I got was that my parents had passed away and, as there was no one to perform the last rites, the society members had done whatever they could. I was depressed. My parents had passed away without seeing their grandchildren.
After a few more years, much to my children’s dislike and my wife’s joy, we returned to India to settle down. I started to look for a suitable property, but to my dismay my savings were short and the property prices had gone up over the years. I had to return to the U.S. My wife refused to come back with me and my children refused to stay in India. I returned to the U.S. with my two children after promising my wife I’d be back for good after two years.
Time passed by, my daughter married an American and my son was happy living in the USA. I decided that I had had enough, and wound up everything and returned to India. I had just enough money to buy a decent two-bedroom flat in a well-developed locality. Now, I am 60 years old and the only time I go out of the flat is for a routine visit to the nearby temple. My faithful wife has also left me and gone to her heavenly abode.
Sometimes I wonder, was it worth it? My father, even after staying in India, had a house to his name and I too have the same, nothing more. I lost my parents and children for just one extra bedroom! I get occasional cards from my children asking if I am all right. Well, at least they remember me. Now, perhaps, after I die, it will be the neighbours who will be performing my last rites. But the question still remains, "Was it worth it?" I am still searching for an answer.