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Off To Paris


By Savitri Narayanan

It was still early morning but Mahesh was getting ready for office. Usually, Mahesh left at only around nine or ten. Over the years, his business was established and the staff handled the matters well. On that particular day, an early morning meeting was scheduled with a client so he was leaving early.

His mother was already in the garden plucking flowers.

“Maji, it’s not even eight o’ clock and here you are working in the garden!” said Mahesh as he stepped out on the verandah and looked for his shoes.

“You’re out early too!” she smiled fondly, “My hardworking son!”

“You know that I have to work hard and make lots of money!” he said. “Chetan is yet to complete his course and things are so expensive out there, not like here in India!”

Priya came out with her bag over her shoulder and a folder in hand.

“What’s the matter? Mother and son engaged in money-talk!” she said. “Thanks to God’s blessings and our elders’ foresight, we’ve enough money, isn’t it?”

Priya, her daughter-in-law, was an executive in a corporation. In the mornings, she went to the office and, in the afternoons, worked from home.

“There comes the car!” said Priya slipping into her sandals. “Maji, see you by lunchtime!”

As she opened the car door, she turned back and called out, “Maji, please don’t wait for me, start eating on time; I will join you!”

Mahesh too picked up his briefcase.

“I must be on my way too, Maji”, he said getting into his car. “Both you and Pitaji have a relaxed breakfast and enjoy the day; see you later!”

“If Chetan beta calls, pass on my love and blessings!” called out Maji.

After finishing his Class XII exams, Chetan had passed some entrance test and was pursuing some course in some foreign country. It was more than a year that he had been gone.

“When will Chetan beta be back?” Maji often asked during dinner time. She was missing him a lot.

“When his course is over!” said Mahesh and continued eating.

“What is this course? Where is his college?” sometimes Pitaji was full of questions. “Isn’t this course available in our country?”

“Times are changing, Pitaji,” said Priya thoughtfully. “The world is opening up and children have their own plans; Chetan’s doing fashion designing at a university in Paris, while his classmate Sharan is in London School of Economics!”

“Oh! He’s in Paris, that’s good!” Pitaji cheered up, “That’s where the Eiffel Tower is!”

“Let him do what he wants, whatever makes him happy!” said Maji as she got up to wash her hands. Priya too got up to clear the table.

Her phone on the side table beeped.

“It’s Chetan!” she said as she grabbed the phone and sat back in her chair. All the others sat around too waiting to hear about the update from Paris.

After quite a long conversation Priya put the phone down.

“Guess what!” Her voice was full of excitement, “Chetan will complete his course in September. Then there’s a ceremony to felicitate the outgoing students. He wants us to attend the ceremony!”

“You must go!” said Pitaji, “Such a proud moment!”

Maji agreed, “Good for both of you! You need a break too! Take time off for a week or two, do some sightseeing, attend the event and come back with Chetan!”

Priya’s joy and pride reflected in her voice as she said, “Chetan says bring along Dadaji, Dadiji, Nanaji and Naniji, too!”

“Chetan’s still a child,’ laughed Dadiji. “Imagine old people like us boarding a plane and going abroad!”

Priya quickly called her parents to tell them about the conversation with Chetan. They too were reluctant to travel so far. Moreover, her mother had never ever boarded a flight before!

“Leave us alone!” said all the grandparents. “You both go with our blessings and join the celebration!”

The conversation continued for the next few days, both at home and also with Priya’s parents over the phone.

“This can’t go on, we need to come to a decision,” said Mahesh. “To travel abroad, there’s lot of paperwork to be done! Forget the visas, you don’t even have a passport! Let’s drive down to Dharampur this evening!”

Soon they were in the car to meet Priya’s parents. As they all sat around with cups of tea and snacks, Priya said, “It’s Chetan’s wish that you all come with us to Paris. Last evening he said, ‘I’ve come this far thanks to their blessings! I still remember all those games we played and stories they told! Please bring them along!’”

“There’s a lot of paperwork like making passports and visas and also booking tickets,” said Mahesh. “You all just say ‘yes’ and I’ll do the rest!”

After a lot of discussion and reassurance, the grandparents said, “Chetan’s our only grandson! It’s his wish, let’s go for his sake!”

Then followed a period of excited phone calls, planning, shopping and other preparations. There was a smile on their lips and spring in their steps as they proceeded to board the flight to Paris.

(Savitri Narayanan is a retired educationist at present in Bangaluru. A mother and grandmother, loves readig, writing and travelling.)